Mace campaign announcement

Rep. Nancy Mace, R-Daniel Island, highlighted her time at The Citadel in her congressional campaign announcement video released Tuesday. Mace told The Post and Courier she is running for South Carolina's 1st Congressional District because she is "the right candidate to win this seat back." Screenshot

Nancy Mace is shocked — shocked — that a bunch of durn Democrats are digging into her past.

Or, more accurately, she wants you to be.

The 1st Congressional District candidate has taken to social media this week to rat out the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for requesting records from her time in The Citadel’s Corps of Cadets.

Why, they even filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the military college. Scandalous!

“They want to know everything I did when I was 18 in a sad attempt to use hateful personal attack ads against me,” the Daniel Island Republican posted on Facebook. “This is really pathetic, not to mention a huge invasion of my privacy.”

Yes, unfortunately this is what happens when you run for public office. Which is part of the reason it’s hard to recruit good candidates these days.

Few people have the tolerance for such shenanigans, and hardly anyone’s past could withstand such withering scrutiny.

But this shouldn't come as a surprise. That's how politics work and, no matter what partisans say, both sides do it. See: The National Republican Congressional Committee.

The DCCC’s counterpart regularly blasts South Carolina reporters with breathless alerts about U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham, often calling him a “fake engineer” — which is an inflated attack culled from its opposition research.

The NRCC even criticizes Cunningham’s family, which really is an invasion of privacy.

Mace, a state representative and former U.S. Senate candidate, can play the offended victim here, but she knows this game. Even Bikers for Trump founder Chris Cox, who’s running against Mace in the 1st District GOP primary, knows that ... and this is his first time on a ballot.

“That’s what campaigns do,” Cox told The Post and Courier’s Caitlin Byrd. “They dig and they are going to try and throw anything at you that they think will stick. It is what it is.”

He’s absolutely right. And what it is, these days, is a bona fide industry. Where do you think they found video of AOC dancing like a goofball on a rooftop, or came up with the story that Joe Biden once (gasp) was friends with Strom Thurmond?

It’s all just digging, looking for anything to embarrass the other candidate. The practice is not particularly dignified, but most candidates for public office — at least on the state and federal level — not only hire people to look into their opponents’ past, but their own as well.

Because it’s far better to know what’s out there than to be surprised.

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And in the case of the DCCC or the NRCC, it may not even coincide with support for any specific candidate; it's just about tearing down the other side.

Mace’s feigned outrage is particularly entertaining, however, because she’s using it to put out stories from her past that are hardly controversial. She laments that The Citadel no longer has her disciplinary records, because she’d like to read the report about that time she cussed out a senior for harassing her.

Which only proves she was pretty tough, or a typical member of the Corps of Cadets. Take your pick.

Some Democrats are grousing about Mace’s reaction to standard political operating procedure, and a few suggest that she’s trying to get out in front of some particularly unflattering chapter from her past.

Nah, that’s not it. She’s just raising money.

See, Mace requested her own records from The Citadel and posted them on her website in a nifty bid to beat the DCCC at its own game.

But to look at those records, you have to give her campaign your email address. Which likely puts you on her mailing list, and probably the NRCC’s.

Nothing wrong with that — that is also how the game is played these days. And Mace knows that.

She just hopes you don’t.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.