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Flying considerably beneath the McCain soap opera is former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. In fact, the most significant political development of the past couple weeks in South Carolina may have been Huckabee's endorsement by the Campbell clan—the wife and son of the beloved former governor Carroll Campbell. This does not mean Huckabee is golden, merely that someone else was denied a perhaps vital boost.
And yet to make much of an impression one way or another is former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani . The common assumption is that his liberal social record will repulse the upstate area around Greenville. It likely will. But that record mated to his no nonsense stance on crime and terror and his energetic pro-America personality might connect with the more urbane party crowd from Charleston to Myrtle Beach.
Of course no one would be paying any attention to South Carolina if it did not come so early in the primary season. On the Democrats' early calendar, South Carolina is the most normal state—certainly with none of the neurotic economic obsessions of Iowa or New Hampshire, nor as uh, unique, as Nevada. On the Republican side, the slate is much more crowded and any one state is less significant. But South Carolina has no local "home" candidate, making it a fair test of national appeal.
In fact, pulling out to the national level reveals South Carolina's major contribution to the 2008 race. The state is prosperous and growing, just like the nation as a whole. The War on Terror and the travails of Iraq might have obscured it, but the national economy has been humming along at a nice pace for five years now.
Candidates who jump on the opportunity to find themes that are compatible with and build on the prosperity of South Carolina, as scary as that might sound, will likely find success with voters there and elsewhere.
Reason contributor Jeff Taylor writes from Charlotte, North Carolina.