A state that's slowly getting past the Argentine escapades of soon-to-be-former Gov. Mark Sanford is now preoccupied with charges of adultery and denials involving a Republican candidate to replace him. What is it about South Carolina?
In her latest TV ad, GOP state Rep. and gubernatorial hopeful Nikki Haley says she's "seen the dark side of our state's politics," before emphasizing her vision for South Carolina, which includes strong schools, a growing economy and a "conservative government that's accountable." She is shown walking hand-in-hand on the beach with husband, Michael, with their two children tagging along. She introduces the man she has said she's been faithful to in 13 years of marriage to answer charges that have disrupted the June 8 primary campaign. Click play below to watch the ad:
On Wednesday, a state lobbyist resigned from a rival political campaign and then became the second man to claim he had a tryst with the 38-year-old Haley, according to an Associated Press report. Haley's campaign denied Larry Marchant's allegation of a one-night stand with Haley during a 2008 school-choice convention in Salt Lake City; he admitted he had no proof.
"It never happened. Absolutely not," Haley said about Marchant's claim during a debate with Bauer and the two other Republican candidates in Charleston, the AP reports. "This is just disgusting politics. Two or three months ago I was Nikki who?"
"A couple weeks ago we started going double digits up in the polls and now we have had everything thrown at us."
The Democrats running in the primary also debated Wednesday night, in Spartanburg, without nearly as much publicity.
Haley, the Clemson University-educated daughter of Indian immigrants, would be the state's first female governor. She blames Bauer's campaign for this latest allegation, according to a report in The State newspaper.
It is the second such charge against Haley in two weeks. Last week, Will Folks, a political blogger and former Gov. Mark Sanford aide, said he had an inappropriate physical relationship with Haley in the spring of 2007; Haley denied the allegation. Folks has offered telephone records, showing more than 600 phone calls with Haley, and text messages with Haley's campaign as evidence, said The State. The paper has also reported that Folks, Marchant and Bauer have had business relationships. A Haley campaign spokesman said the texts proved nothing.
Jenny Sanford, the current governor's ex-wife, has endorsed Haley in her close primary against Bauer, U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett and S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster.
Sarah Palin is also a Haley supporter. After Folks came forward, Palin defended her: "Well, whaddaya know?" Palin wrote on Facebook. "South Carolina's conservative candidate, Nikki Haley, recently zipped to the front of the line in her state's race for governor; and lo and behold, now accusations of an affair surface."
The State has published a series of Q & A's with both Democratic and Republican candidates, asking, for example, "How will you help this state create more jobs?"
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