Gov. Henry McMaster may have created the greatest Super Bowl commercial of them all by proclaiming this week "Stand for the Flag Super Bowl Sunday" in South Carolina.
McMaster, one of four GOP candidates in 2018, was first out of the gate to thwart the notion of any flag protests by instead asking South Carolinians to stand in their living rooms before the kickoff.
His proclamation reads:
"Our national anthem, the 'Star Spangled Banner,' describes the American flag and the bravery and sacrifice of those who have fought and died to defend it. The governor’s proclamation encourages all South Carolinians to stand for the playing of the national anthem prior to Super Bowl LII."
The note went on to say standing for the anthem recognizes and honors the sacrifices of all generations of those who have served in the armed forces.
“I ask that all South Carolinians show the world our state’s resolute commitment to supporting our troops by standing for the national anthem wherever you watch the Super Bowl with your loved ones this Sunday,” McMaster's proclamation notes.
South Carolina is home to some 417,000 veterans.
Kneeling during the anthem has become an act of protest on the part of some NFL players in the name of social justice and countering police brutality.
Former Francis Marion University political scientist Neal Thigpen, who follows Republican politics in the state, said the idea of the governor rallying behind the anthem ahead of the game seems out of character for McMaster, who he said has been more subdued in his political career demonstrations.
But this is an election year.
"He seems to be learning something he probably feels works well for his mentor," Thigpen said, pointing to President Donald Trump, a critic of the kneeling phenomenon.
Sports website Deadspin, however, took an even dimmer view of the governor's plea. In a crude, satirical post laced with expletives, Deadspin's Patrick Redford didn't mince words. The post was being widely shared on social media Tuesday afternoon.
Also in the GOP race for the party's June primary nomination are Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill and former two-time state agency head Catherine Templeton.
Ninety minutes after McMaster's proclamation, Templeton tweeted she supported the governor on this issue.
"In SC, there are certain things that unite us. In SC, we stand," she said.
Hours after issuing his proclamation, McMaster used it as part of a campaign appeal in an email blast.