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Having survived my first POTUS primary election cycle in SC, let me share a few observations. “Take-aways” from anything are only useful if one identifies those worth remembering because they offer some valuable lessons.

Most stunning even for those of us who are unapologetic political junkies is that South Carolina really does go bonkers for a few weeks. I attended myriad events, including five political events in the last week, from the SC debates in Greenville through the last Rubio event in Clemson the night before the GOP primary…wow. It is wonderful to be able to do so, to participate in the democratic process up close and personal in a state where one’s vote actually matters.

I was at events for all candidates still in the race (the debates), as well as those for individual candidates like Trump, Rubio and Cruz. I make no apologies for being able to identify those candidates who were, and remain, the only viable ones in the GOP field. It is a three horse race at this point, and with all due respect to Carson and Kasich they should stand down.

I like the Bush family, I voted for GHW Bush (#41) and G Bush (#43) twice each and do not regret my votes. That is not to suggest that either was perfect; if you are looking for perfect go to church, there was only one guy who ever walked on water. And in recent times, the Bush family is both the yin and the yang of the GOP. They won the prize, but then stumbled; which only shows how human are even the best of us. While I believe that JEB would make a good POTUS, he should have listened to his Mom when she said she hoped he would not run. Between his campaign and his super PAC, JEB burned through 150 million dollars and his numbers went down…wow. That is money the GOP will need to defeat HRC in the fall.

At the Greenville debate I was seated directly behind Mrs. Cruz and those adorable kids (see picture below). And right next to me was the Bush family. I was able to have a conversation with both and will cherish it always. Our political process has been a nasty affair for some time, and we forget the toll that it takes on the families. Regardless of how strongly we may disagree with a candidate and his political views that is no excuse for vilifying the family members. Would that we could get to a better place, one where there was a universal agreement that family is out of bounds.

The SC debates did nobody proud. It was mud-wrestling on a stage before millions…and who believes that such demonstrations help “grow the brand?” I am weary of hearing people running for POTUS call each other “liar:” it is not Presidential in my book. (Note: I call people “liar,” including Obama/Hillary but I am not running for POTUS and believe in calling them like I see them). That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

At a Rubio event at Easley HS I was able to meet Trey Gowdy and give him both my card and a copy of this paper. I enjoined the Congressman to “do a little light reading on page 9,” and hope that he did so. When I asked if he had staff there so I could give them the paper, he replied, “Just Sen. Scott.” I said my lips were sealed, but he said “Oh no tell him, he will love it.” It does my heart good to see SC’s two best members of Congress get along so well. They really do both like and respect each other, terrific.

At the Rubio event at Clemson, I was able to meet Sen. Scott and gave him my bumper sticker, “Ready for Hillary, surely you jest.” He laughed and thanked me, as had Rubio when he shook my hand as they walked into the event. Like I said, “Up close and personal.”

I have been around and in politics since stuffing envelopes for a local Mayor race in NJ at age 15. My early interest was also re-enforced at NJ Boys State at age 17. Over the years I have been engaged in 31 campaigns, about half of those my own… it has been my privilege to be involved.

How does the song go, “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again too few to mention.” God bless America.

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David W. Thompson worked in government, education and the non-profit sector for more than forty years. A graduate of Westminster College and Harvard University, he resides in Easley, SC. You can follow him on his blog, “Smokealarms2015.com.”

 

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