Fab four grab GOP spotlight: S.C.'s conservative freshmen team up for ideals, fundraising

Scott (top left), Duncan (top right), Gowdy (bottom left), Mulvahey (bottom right)

COLUMBIA -- The New York Times put America on notice in April when it chronicled how South Carolina's four GOP freshmen congressmen refused to adopt a go-along-to-get-along attitude on Capitol Hill.

POLITICO and the national cable circuit further developed the story line that these men from a historically rebellious state were people to watch, a Who's Who of the 87 conservative men and woman elected in 2009.

Cameras and scribes documented their collective decision to buck their own Republican Party leadership in the dramatic countdown to the country's debt default, as they ducked into the chapel to pray about the situation that was ultimately averted.

U.S. Rep. Tim Scott, the 1st District congressman from North Charleston, said he and his bunch aren't seeking any special attention. "If it comes, it comes," he said.

"Last November, the voters of South Carolina sent the four of us to Washington, not for minor change but for major change," Scott said. "Washington, D.C. is broke. It spends too much. It taxes too much and it regulates too much."

Along with Scott, U.S. Reps. Jeff Duncan of Laurens, Trey Gowdy of Spartanburg and Mick Mulvaney of Indian Land round out the "fab four" -- as they're called for a high-dollar fundraiser planned for Tuesday.

The $2,000-per-plate breakfast and roundtable event in Columbia follows today's American Principles Project Palmetto Freedom Forum with the top GOP presidential contenders.

U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., state House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, and U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-Lexington, are special guests at the so-called South Carolina Young Guns Victory Fund event intended to help the freshmen get re-elected in 2012.

South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian said he is not worried about any momentum Scott and the three other GOP freshmen will have going into upcoming election. They've accomplished nothing for the state and developed a reputation as obstructionists, he said. He promised that Democrats will challenge at least the majority of them in next year's election.

"They're acting like freshmen congressmen, inexperienced and immature, and I think that it is going to come back and haunt them," Harpootlian said.

Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said South Carolina's freshmen Republicans have fought for fiscal responsibility to undo the policies put in place under Democratic control.

"It's no surprise that leaders like these have gotten national attention for standing up for the real reforms," she said.

Charles Bierbauer, dean of the College of Mass Communications and Information Studies at the University of South Carolina, said the freshmen captured the spotlight by sticking together and creating a unified front. Bierbauer, the former senior White House correspondent for CNN, said that individually, the four have made less of an impression.

Their story is not yet told.

"I don't know that they've done anything remarkable as yet -- emphasis on the 'as yet' -- to suggest that they have significant longevity, other than the fact that they are in pretty safe districts," he said.

Reach Yvonne Wenger at 803-926-7855, follow her at twitter.com/yvonnewenger and read her political blog at postandcourier.com/blogs.