Harpootlian assesses the 2012 Republican field
April 19th, 2011
10:24 AM ET
11 years ago

Harpootlian assesses the 2012 Republican field

(CNN) - With Republicans controlling almost every lever of government in South Carolina, Democrats are left with a shallow bench of leaders able to respond to the field of GOP presidential candidates dropping into the early primary state hunting for votes.

This is where Dick Harpootlian comes in. The former state Democratic Party chairman, who presided over the election of South Carolina's last Democratic governor in 1998 and has close ties to the Obama White House, is now seeking his old job back.

He faces a challenge from Charleston political consultant Phil Noble and Marion County chairman Lee Walter Jenkins, but is considered the frontrunner in the race and has been endorsed by a spate of Democratic leaders including Rep. James Clyburn.

The oft-quoted Columbia attorney is perhaps best known for his sharp-tongued one-liners and frequent appearances in the media. Whether he wins the chairman's race on April 30 or not, South Carolina Democrats will undoubtedly be turning to Harpootlian throughout the presidential primary season to throw some elbows at the GOP.

He sat down with CNN and previewed how he plans to frame each of the Republican candidates:

Mitt Romney: "He was Obamacare before Obamacare. I think he is going to have a hard sell here and everywhere else to Republicans that is he is not just some liberal Republican yankee who backed socialized medicine in Masschusetts and will carry on the tradition of Obamacare.

Tim Pawlenty: "Who?"

Donald Trump: "He is leading the polls. That should speak volumes about what's going on in the Republican primary. Donald Trump who has been bankrupt three times, gone through three wives. Not the guy you want with his finger on the button. That's scary."

Haley Barbour: "If I were looking for a good place for ribs and barbecue this afternoon, I'd follow Haley. I think at the end of the day he is a fat jovial guy, and if we were electing Santa Claus, he'd be your guy."

Herman Cain: "Herman Cain? Who is that?"

Michele Bachmann: "We got Nikki Haley here. We don't really need more of that coming to the state. Bachmann is here this week. I suppose if she heard them fire on Fort Sumter she'd have thought that was the Shot Heard 'Round The World."

Sarah Palin: "Sarah Palin had her 15 minutes of political fame. She is making a lot of money now, I don't think she is going to run. She is a celebrity now. She is a not a political candidate."

Mike Huckabee: "He has his own TV show. He probably needs to take some time and concentrate on getting back on that diet."

Rick Santorum: "If Darth Vader could be elected president, he would be my first choice."

Newt Gingrich: "He got run out of town the last time he was in government. He will say anything and do anything to get elected. I don't think the Republican base is going to get excited about 'Newt II: The Sequel.' And what wife is he on?"

Chris Christie: "Christie is an affable guy. He has made some promises to the people in New Jersey and I think he needs to keep them. He is a Republican in New Jersey, though. That would be a liberal Democrat in South Carolina."

Jon Huntsman: "If we wanted Barack Obama to pick the nominee, someone who worked for him, Huntsman would be it. I think he has the same problems Mitt Romney has, and that is he ain't one of them. That being Tea Party Republicans, South Carolina Republicans. He is much too reasonable."

Filed under: 2012 • South Carolina
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. ConservaFascists/FUBAR

    I suppose if she heard them fire on Fort Sumter she'd have thought that was the Shot Heard 'Round The World."

    LMAO. This guy is a comedian. I like him already.

    April 19, 2011 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  2. The Day of Financial Reckoning is HERE - The Great Democrat Welfare Society Ends

    Wonderful... The best the Democrats can do is roll out the clowns and comedians??? It appears the Republican Party is the only party willing to be the adult and address the serious financial problems facing this country.

    April 19, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Harpootlian? Never heard of him. Former state chair in SC? Okay, I guess that's why. But, I've heard of him now.

    April 19, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    So far, the best choice is still Mitch Daniels, if he runs.

    April 19, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  5. Jeff in Virginia

    Please send Hamby where he belongs- to Fox.

    April 19, 2011 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  6. john

    Harpootlian, Anyone can beat Obama in the 2012 election; Romney, Palin, Pawlenty, Trump or Gingrich will easily beat Obama in a massive land slide win. After two years of the Obama administration,
    We the American people want to:
    Repeal every law passed by the last Democratic-controlled congress!
    Repeal every regulation put into place by the Obama administration!
    Remove every “zar” put into place by the Obama administration!
    Stop funding NPR!
    Stop all funding for Planned Parenthood!
    Stop all US Aid to other countries for 5 years!
    Getting the government out of private companies and our lives and pockets!
    Cut taxes!
    Close the border!
    End ear marks!
    investigate, prosecute and put those people in the Obama administration in prison.

    Obama, the Democrats in the house and the 23 Senators up for election in 2012 better understand their jobs are on the line, we are watching how they vote, they will be replaced. We are at depression levels of employment in America our government debt is at crisis levels.

    April 19, 2011 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  7. CNNLover

    John is living in la-la-land.

    April 19, 2011 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  8. Doug

    @CNNLover. Absolutely.. Heard they mix the california stuff in their tea at tea party events these days, and I tend to believe that with all the comments.
    John sounds like the guy on the wrong side, but believes he is in the majority. Just like the bully in my elementary school, who was not liked by anyone but his sidekick.

    April 19, 2011 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  9. Rudy NYC

    I bet I'm funnier than he is. Mr. Harpootlian, I hereby challenge you to a Republican debate.

    April 19, 2011 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  10. Wes B.

    lol@ John. So misinformed.

    April 19, 2011 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  11. Rob

    @john.... wow... so angry. Take a chill pill, and realize that if you stay this angry towards everything in your life you are going to need medicare and free health care and all the other things that people. Every day I read more stories about Republicans attacking the Democrats and our freely elected President, and one guy tries to dish it back and it is anger. Grow up!

    April 19, 2011 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  12. The Situation

    John, you fool. The only one in the GOP field that has a chance at winning is Romney. Trump, Palin, Pawlenty and Newt all are trailing Obama by double digits. Also the state of the US ecomomy was due to the fool that was running the White House for the previous 8 years from 2001 to 2009, George W. and Dick. If the jobless rate goes down between now to next September, no Repubs Candidate has a snow ball chance in hell of winning

    April 19, 2011 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  13. Bill

    His assessments of the GOP candidates is right on target. I like Huntsman a lot but I can't see the right-wing lunatic base embracing him. They'll go with one of their own - to the detriment of the GOP presidential hopes.

    April 19, 2011 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  14. The Real Tom Paine

    @ John.....anger is not a strategy to govern, much less live your life. Thats what the difference between Conservatives and Americans. Americans are optimistic, forward-looking, and understand we can do anything even if times are tough. Conservatives are the people who would complain if Jesus walked on water to save them: the first words out of their mouth would be " Why the hell can't you swim?" Thats conservatism in a nutshell, all anger and looking for a justification to be selfish. Ayn Rand, anyone?

    April 19, 2011 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  15. MalleusMaleficarum

    Harpootlian is part of the problem, not the solution. Yes, a Democrat was elected governor in 1998 – the year of backlash against Kenneth Starr – Harpootlian had zero to do with that – and he did nothing to build the Party. In SC, the Democratic Party is in tatters. No staff. No Headquarters. Nothing, but a lot of political corpses. Harpootlian is the architect of the disintegration of the Democratic Party – a Republicrat who plays dice with both sides. Harpootlian might be a stand-up comedian, but he will wreck the SC Democratic Party – again if he gets the chance.

    April 19, 2011 11:52 am at 11:52 am |