It’s no coincidence that on Tuesday night the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech was the governor of South Carolina.
Many assertions are made to the fact that she is a strong, well-spoken woman of Indian decent, the daughter of immigrants, as well as a popular Republican governor.
This is the face that the GOP establishment wants to present to the population as emblematic of a kinder, gentler Republican Party.
While those are all great notions, there is yet another reason why Gov. Nikki Haley was used as the mouthpiece of the GOP; she is the governor of South Carolina.
Two outsiders are leading the pack of Republican candidates and threatening to leave the GOP establishment out in the cold. Cruz is leading in Iowa and Trump in New Hampshire, and both play second fiddle to the other one in the state they do not lead.
Cruz has strong appeal in the Hawkeye State with as many as 40 percent of caucus-goers identifying themselves as evangelicals. He has a strong network across the state with endorsements from conservative Rep. Steve King of the 4th Çongressional District and Bob Vander Plaats, the director of The Family Leader.
Vander Plaats family-based, conservative organization is made up of evangelicals that use their weight to shape the debate on social issues in Iowa.
Meanwhile, Trump has a firm command of the attention of New Hampshire voters and with the tradition of that state backing maverick candidates, Trump certainly fits their brand. He draws the excitement of conservatives, tea partiers, union members, Independents and even Democrats who are tired of a sluggish economy and of the Obama style of leadership that “leads from behind.”
So with the first two states being dominated by savage, ugly ogre’s who have no invitation to the dance, but decide rather to crash the party through the front door, what’s an establishment type girl to do?
Write a speech undercutting the Republican frontrunner as the “angriest voice” and as the “loudest voice in the room," this in reference to Trump’s comments on Syrian refugees and illegal immigration.
Governor Nikki Haley took the opportunity on Tuesday night to denigrate Trump as a “siren” characterizing him and his message as unrepresentative of today’s GOP.
In the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll
, Trump has a commanding lead of 34 percent of national primary voters. Cruz follows with 19 percent for a combined majority of 53 percent of Republican primary voters supporting an outsider candidate.
Both candidates want to build walls, stop a reckless refugee program that can’t vet terrorists, and stop illegal immigration. It seems that Governor Haley’s calculation is somewhat misguided.
The gambit is simple; use a popular governor in an early primary state who has stood up to the old guard of the South and removed the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s statehouse grounds to rally the troops to a voice of reason.
That voice would be whichever establishment candidate comes out of New Hampshire with a clear shot to coalesce behind. The favorite is Rubio, but it could be Christie.
As of today, Rubio sits in third place in South Carolina based on the Real Clear Politics polling average
at 12 percent. In New Hampshire Rubio is again in third with 13.2 percent trailing Cruz and Trump and in Iowa he also inhabits third place at 11.9 percent.
If Rubio finishes in the top tier in Iowa and again in New Hampshire, he becomes the odds-on favorite for the establishment entering the South Carolina primary.
It isn’t too much of a conspiracy theory to suggest that the party elites engineer the parting of the red sea to allow for our own “Moses,” this time a black-haired, female governor, to endorse Sen. Rubio and hail him as the savior of the party.
That he can lead the ignorant, misled electorate from their lowly estate as thralls to the mean-spirited front-runners and liberate them to a higher and loftier position.
Of course, that would take for granted the mood and intelligence of the primary voter, and at this point in this rocky relationship, a majority of the people aren’t buying much of anything the establishment is selling.
Beyond South Carolina the crystal ball is less clear, but you can bank on one thing; there’s more than one poisonous tonic in this snake oil salesman’s bag.
Michael McDaniel is a political commentator who has been covering election politics in Iowa for over a decade. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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