Rick Perry campaign ‘on life support’ in S.C.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry

You know your presidential campaign is troubled when even the head of the Republican Party doesn’t expect you to stick around.

S.C. Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore last week raised doubts about former Texas Gov. Rick Perry actually filing for the South Carolina primary.

“Rick Perry is on life support in South Carolina,” Moore said. He added that right now he’d be “surprised” if Perry paid his $40,000 filing fee to get on the GOP’s first-in-the-South primary ballot. The cutoff is Sept. 30.

Perry’s campaign last month raised giant red flags when it became known that he’d stopped paying his presidential campaign staff in South Carolina and elsewhere. Expectations were that his staffers would still do their duties but on a volunteer basis — a clear sign of fundraising woes. He had seven paid personnel in South Carolina.

Perry’s South Carolina consultant, Walter Whetsell, said the filing fee will be paid.

“Sorry he’s miscalculated this,” Whetsell said of Moore, “but we have every intention of filing.”

The actual presidential filing fee in South Carolina is $20,000 to the S.C. Election Commission, but the GOP charges $40,000, with the $20,000 difference going to paying for party primary promotion functions.

Perry hasn’t had much luck in South Carolina. After announcing his 2012 bid here, he dropped out on the eve of the state’s GOP primary after failing to catch fire.

Moore said he still is wishing Perry success on the trail. The GOP primary is Feb. 20. At least seven other candidates have paid their filing fee so far.

If Vice President Joe Biden gets in the Democratic White House race, he could get up to speed fairly quickly in South Carolina.

Last week, former state Education Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum and state Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington, signed up as “Draft Biden” co-chairs.

Tenenbaum has already shown herself to be ahead of the curve when it comes to making smart choices in the presidential race. She was one of the more notable early supporters of then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2008 when much of the state’s Democratic chatter was pointing toward Hillary Clinton.

“His ties in South Carolina are deep, and I am honored to work with this team to help encourage the vice president to do what the people of South Carolina are ready for him to do: run for president,” Tenenbaum said.

“Draft Biden,” which as a SuperPAC is not formally tied to the VP, also announced the hiring of four staffers in South Carolina to get the field operation going.

The local Democratic Party leadership and some senior Statehouse members are organizing a series of forums hoping to get more of their White House candidates in front of a Charleston audience.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley have already confirmed they will take part, according to an announcement put out by state Sen. Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston.

Times and a venue have not been set but all the Democratic candidates have been invited.

State Rep. David Mack, D-North Charleston, said he’d like to hear their stances on such issues as law enforcement reform, income inequality, public education and health care.

When the forums are formally announced, the likely venue will be the International Longshoremen’s Hall on Morrison Drive in Charleston.

Sen. Marco Rubio: The Florida Republican will be in North Charleston on Monday for U.S. Sen. Tim Scott’s Town Hall series. Rubio and Scott will be joined by U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center beginning at 6 p.m.

Rick Santorum: The former Republican U.S. senator from Pennsylvania will meet with NASCAR team owners and drivers at the Bojangles 500 in Darlington on Sunday. On Monday he’ll participate in the Chapin Labor Day Parade.

Bernie Sanders: The independent Vermont U.S. senator, who is running as a Democrat, will make three stops in one day Saturday — at Benedict College in Columbia, the Florence Civic Center Arena in Florence and at Winthrop University in Rock Hill.

Compiled by Post and Courier reporter Schuyler Kropf.