Graham exploring presidential waters

Mark Sanford

A new pro-national-defense group put together by a former Michigan congressman could play right into the White House strategy of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Mike Rogers, who was a regular on TV news shows discussing issues of security, is leading the group Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security. Its goal is to promote more foreign policy discussions among the Republican presidential hopefuls.

That’s the same description that Graham, R-S.C., has given as his goal in exploring his own White House run.

In addition to Iowa, Rogers’ group plans to have organizational setups in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

“(National security) will be a factor in the election of 2016,” Rogers said during a recent interview with The Detroit News.

Rogers retired last year and was chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Graham has said he will decide on a White House run by May. He’ll test out his chances on Thursday and Friday when he visits Des Moines, Iowa.

Two of the 2016 Republican White House hopefuls are scheduled to be in South Carolina during the week ahead.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will be in Greenville at the Barnes & Noble bookstore on Woodruff Road at 11 a.m. Thursday to sign copies of his “American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone.”

Ohio Gov. John Kasich will be in Columbia on Wednesday to address the State House Republican Caucus. It’s the same group that former Texas Gov. Rick Perry spoke to last month during his last swing through the state. Kasich’s visit is his first to an early voting state.

For a map of visits from potential White House hopefuls, go to postandcourier.com/GOP-visits.

Charleston Republican state Sen. Larry Grooms is interested in Kasich’s supposed cover for the trip – testifying in front of a Senate panel on various amendments that Grooms wants to make to the U.S. Constitution.

Grooms wants to force the federal government to balance their budget and to impose constitutional wording to protect traditional marriage. Under Article V of the Constitution, if two-thirds of the states agree, a Convention of States to propose amendment additions can be organized. A national movement is afoot to do just that — Kasich being a major proponent.

If it sounds like a long shot or a reprisal of a Civil War argument, Grooms doesn’t necessarily disagree.

“South Carolinians view the Constitution differently than their Northern brethren,” he said. “There have been certain liberties taken with the Constitution.”

Grooms said the states were nearly successful several decades back when the idea was championed by President Ronald Reagan. He said the momentum is growing – and unlike the Civil War, South Carolina won’t be the first one to sign on.

“We’re not alone this time,” Grooms said. “We’ll be a follower instead of a leader.”

A Columbia blogger last week reported U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., was “actively considering” running for governor again in 2018, citing unnamed sources “familiar with his thinking.”

Sanford called the report totally made up.

“It’s absolutely not the case,” said Sanford, who served two terms as governor and survived his much-publicized affair to win his former 1st Congressional District seat in 2013.

“I haven’t thought about it, I haven’t discussed it with anybody,” he said. “This is a case of creative writing.”

Sanford has long denied any interest in returning to Columbia, including when he continued to sound off — post-governor — against a years-old state legislative tax incentive package that’s slated to bring a Bass Pro Shop to North Charleston.

Sanford has said he hopes to remain in Washington for multiple terms.

The Dorchester County Republican Party has gone on record as encouraging the town of Summerville to end the partnership to build a combination boutique hotel, conference center and parking garage in the historic downtown.

Party Chairman Timothy Higgins presented an executive committee resolution to Town Council on Feb. 12 opposing the town’s agreement with developer Applegate & Co. for the $30 million project. The GOP is against using taxpayer money as an unsecured interest-free loan for the developer.

“This type of public/private partnership unfairly picks winners and losers from among local businesses and potential developers and jeopardizes the financial stability of Summerville and Dorchester County,” according to the resolution.

The attraction was approved by Town Council in July. At that time, the town also entered into the partnership with Applegate that calls for the company to put $24 million into the project.

The town will kick in $8.95 million from its accommodations tax plus gap financing for Applegate of $3.75 million at no interest for 24 months from the same fund. After two years, the loan will carry 3.75 percent interest until permanent financing is secured.

Compiled by The Post and Courier political staff.