7

Lookin’ rather vice presidential there, Gov. Haley…

Giving fresh credence to rumors that Republican elders look upon her as a possible vice-presidential nominee, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has been tapped to deliver her party’s response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech next Tuesday, Jan. 12.

Nikki Haley“Nikki Haley has led an economic turnaround and set a bold agenda for her state, getting things done and becoming one of the most popular governors in America,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., said in a news release. “In a year when the country is crying out for a positive vision and alternative to the status quo, Governor Haley is the exact right choice to deliver the Republican Address to the Nation.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kent., called Haley “a proven leader and committed reformer who believes deeply in the promise of the country we all share. Not only has Governor Haley fought to bring opportunity and prosperity to the people of her state, but she’s also demonstrated how bringing people together can bring real results.”

The prime-time rebuttal slot has been a prized perch for those with higher aspirations. Those tapped in the past few years to deliver the GOP response include Ryan himself in 2011 – the year before he was GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s running mate. Current presidential candidate Marco Rubio gave the response in 2013, and former candidate Bobby Jindal gave the response to Obama’s first address to a joint session of Congress in February 2009.

Many believe Haley’s conservative bona fides, along with the diversity she symbolizes as a woman and as a daughter of Indian immigrants, make her a good pick for the number-two slot on this year’s GOP ticket. Her popular decision to remove the Confederate battle flag from her capitol’s grounds after June’s massacre in a black church in Charleston, and her steadfast refusal to wade into this year’s presidential morass – she has made no endorsement – could help her chances.

In Ryan’s news release, Haley, 43, said she’s honored to get the speaking slot. “This is a time of great challenges for our country, but also of great opportunities. I intend to speak about both.”

17

Some thoughts on the South Carolina primary

1.) The Palmetto State’s evangelical Christian conservatives overwhelmingly supported Newt Gingrich, a thrice-married, self-admitted adulterer accused of having wanted an open marriage; who spent exorbitantly at Tiffany’s; and is the only House Speaker in U.S. history disciplined for ethics violations – yet the story is that Mitt Romney wasn’t conservative enough for them? I think we need to admit that they just won’t vote for a Mormon under any circumstances so long as there’s another Republican in the race. When it’s down to Romney v. Obama – as I still believe it will be – will Romney have trouble getting such voters to the polls in the swing states?

2.) Rick who? Time to pack it in, Santorum – your 15 minutes started and ended in Iowa, even if nobody realized you actually won there.

3.) So now all eyes in this presidential election are on Florida… whoa. That’s some freaky déjà vu right there.

4.) Herman Cain got more votes than Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachmann combined. COLBERT 2012!

9

Jon Huntsman calls it quits

So Jon Huntsman is done, and has thrown his support to Mitt Romney.

Jon Huntsman 1-16-2012 (AP Photo)Not a shocker. Huntsman had put all his eggs in New Hampshire’s basket, which quickly Humpty-Dumptied his sorry self with a distant-third-place finish. Facing Armageddon this Saturday in the more Christian-conservativey South Carolina – where he was even trailing a made-up persona, although some might say all politicians are made-up personas – Huntsman decided to end the masochism this morning in Myrtle Beach.

“America is more divided than ever, and for our nation to move forward together with new leadership and unite, the Republican Party must first unite,” he says in a statement posted to his website. “Today I am suspending my campaign and supporting the candidate who is best-equipped to defeat the president and return conservative leadership to the White House: Governor Mitt Romney.”

Replied Romney, in a statement issued this morning: “I salute Jon Huntsman and his wife Mary Kaye. Jon ran a spirited campaign based on unity not division, and love of country. I appreciate his friendship and support.”

This leaves Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul to duke it out in the Palmetto State. I figure Romney continues his sweep and finishes first. As Gingrich and Santorum vie for the more conservative voters, whoever doesn’t finish second behind Romney will find it hard to march onward to Florida. Paul won’t care so much, as he’s apparently less concerned with winning and more with continuing to get his message out; in fact, a strong finish – buoyed by the younger voters that pushed him forward in Iowa and New Hampshire – could ensure he continues campaigning for quite some time to come.

UPDATE @ 1:43 P.M.: No, I didn’t mention Rick Perry. That’s because I believe his campaign to be…
Texas toast

2

Man repays 1964 jobless benefits to state, plus

The state’s budget gap has narrowed by $10,000 thanks to a debt repaid by someone California did right by almost half a century ago.

Dennis FergusonDennis Ferguson, 74, of South Carolina, recently sent the state a check for $10,000 to pay back with interest the unemployment benefits he received for about four months in 1964, after he’d been laid off as an engineer at Douglas Aircraft in Los Angeles, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer’s office reports.

Ferguson’s benefits for the roughly 20-week period he received aid would have totaled about $1,100, according to information provided by the State Employment Development Department. Ferguson told Lockyer’s office he wanted to show his appreciation for the help he’d received by adding “interest,” and he figured $10,000 was a “nice round figure.” On the Nov. 23 check, Ferguson wrote, “REPAYMENT FOR WHAT CALIF. DID FOR ME!”

“Anyone who is helped out when they are down ought to give something back, especially now that California has budget problems,” Ferguson told Lockyer’s office.

Because the check didn’t designate a specific recipient, state law requires that it go to public schools.

“It’s appropriate this money will go to educate our kids, because there’s a lesson to be learned here about what it means to have a sense of shared sacrifice and commitment to the common good,” Lockyer said in a news release. “On behalf of Californians, I want to express our deepest appreciation to Mr. Ferguson. I hope that as we work together to meet our budget challenges, we keep in mind his act of generosity, and the spirit it embodies.”

In a note Ferguson sent to the State Treasurer’s Office along with the check, the retire wrote, “In 1964, the State of California allowed me to collect unemployment while I attended a storefront school to learn how to program a computer. This allowed me to have a great career and I’ve been ever thankful. Please find enclosed a check for $10,000 as a repayment. Happy Thanksgiving!”

And a very Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to you, too, Mr. Ferguson.

1

Obama’s ‘Committed Christian’ mailer

Take a look at this mailer the Obama campaign is sending to Kentucky voters in advance of that state’s May 20 primary:

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It’s very much like a mailer Obama used in South Carolina back in January. It certainly seems to be the candidate’s attempt to dispel lingering myths about him being a Muslim, and to have socially conservative Christian Democrats rally to him.

Remember the hue and cry — per Associated Press (via CBS News), the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, USA Today and about six billion blogs — when Mike Huckabee ran this TV ad last Christmas with the cruciform image in the background?

So, were both Huckabee and Obama over the line, or one and not the other, or neither?