PHOTO: The candidates in the June 8th South Carolina GOP gubernatorial primary include State Rep. Nikki Haley, Lt. Gov. André Bauer, Rep. Gresham Barrett and Attorney General Henry McMaster.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney has just released a hard hitting statement endorsing Congressman Gresham Barrett for Governor of South Carolina. Barrett’s has a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 98% and is a former Army field artillery captain. Nevertheless, his campaign has been struggling in the polls all year.
A PPP survey released last weekend gave State Nikki Haley a huge lead with 39%, while Attorney General Henry McMaster had 18%, Barrett was at 16%, Lt. Gov. André Bauer 13% with 14% undecided. The survey was conducted before allegations were made against Haley about an extra martial affair.
Barrett’s major problem is primarily due to one issue, his vote for the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) in October 2008. Barrett has been booed in front of Tea Party crowds, and has consistently been on the defensive. The first time TARP came up for a vote, Barrett did not support it.
Then he saw the stock market immediately collapse by an unprecedented 1000 points and was told the entire American banking system was in danger of shutting down, and the result would be another great depression. Barrett changed his mind and supported TARP on the second vote.
The TARP vote has already been a significant factor in primary defeats suffered by Senators Bob Bennett (R-UT) and Kay Baily Hutchison (R-TX). Her opponent, Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), often referred to her as “Kay Bailout Hutchison.” TARP is also being used against Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) in his gubernatorial campaign.
Joining Cheney in support of Barrett is Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence, Gov. Bob Riley (R-AL) and the American Conservative Union. State Rep. Nikki Haley has the support of retiring Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) as well as former Governors Sarah Palin (R-AK) and Mitt Romney (R-MA). Romney says supporting TARP “was the correct and courageous thing to do,” and the legislation was also endorsed by the conservative magazine National Review. Lt. Gov. André Bauer has been endorsed by former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) while Attorney General Henry McMaster has the backing of Sen. John McCain. The Cheney statement said in part:
Today, I am strongly endorsing Gresham Barrett. He is is one of the most conservative leaders I’ve ever worked with. No one in South Carolina has done more to fight President Obama’s reckless agenda than Gresham Barrett. On issues of national defense, spending reductions, tax cuts, and eliminating the national debt, his record fighting for the conservative cause is unmatched. Gresham has opposed and fought against every single wasteful Obama spending proposal. Every one.
But there’s a lot of revisionist history going on in South Carolina these days. I expect that from MSNBC, but not from fellow Republicans. So let me set the record straight. I’m certain Gresham knew his vote in support of President Bush and our plan wouldn’t be popular, but he did something far too novel in American politics today: He put the interests of his country ahead of his own. That’s why voters should not believe the false attacks from his opponents. When it was time to make decisions and show leadership, Gresham stepped up while they all stayed silent and ducked for cover. That may make for good politics today, but it certainly isn’t leadership.
Congressman Barrett has had to devote a huge amount of time to defending the TARP vote, and it is always used as a principle attack weapon by his opponents. Attorney General Henry McMaster often refers to the Congressman as “Bailout Barrett.” The Congressman devoted an entire 60 second TV ad to TARP in which he said:
I honestly believe with all my heart that we were at a point where men and women were going to reach into their back pocket and pull out a credit card or ATM card and stick it into a machine and nothing was going to come out. I listened to my president, George W. Bush. I listened to businessman and leaders in South Carolina.
As a leader, I made a decision. Did we stop something that could have happened? Yeah, I believe we did. Has it been implemented like it should have been? No, absolutely not. You can always be a Monday morning quarterback. But leaders make decisions based on the best information that they have, and they go with it. That’s what I did.
If Barrett fails to make the runoff on June 8th the next Governor may want to hire him to assist with business development. Barrett has an impressive jobs creation record and had a key role in luring aircraft manufacturer Boeing to the state. The Congressman is regarded as an anti-union activist on Capitol Hill.
Gov. Mark Sanford (R) is leaving office with high negative ratings primarily due to an extra-marital affair, but South Carolina in a far better fiscal position than most other states. South Carolina has low property and business taxes, and labor unions have little power in the Palmetto State.
Boeing has long been associated with Washington state, but last October they announced plans for a second 787 Dreamliner plant to be constructed in South Carolina at a cost of over $700 million. The plant could mean as many as 35,000 spin off jobs. To remain in Washington state, Boeing had asked the International Association of Machinists (IAM) for a 10 year no strike pledge. When the union failed to meet the demand, Boeing followed through with its threat to build the facility in South Carolina. Companies such as BMW and Michelin also appreciate the state because the chances of a crippling production strike are low.