We’ve always viewed S.C. Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer as an intellectual lightweight.

Of course, if the reports we’re hearing today about the various strategic moves he is making in response to the scandal enveloping S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford are accurate, we may have to rethink that assessment.

Evidently, Bauer has someone incredibly Machiavellian advising him in his quest to turn Sanford’s scandal into his own political advantage.

As the administration of Gov. Sanford teeters on the brink of collapse, Bauer is dancing a delicate “Columbia two-step,” sources tell FITS.

According to a source familiar with his game plan, Bauer has decided to publicly offer his support to Gov. Sanford (initially at least) while his allies – including Sen. Jake Knotts – continue to pummel Sanford in the press, demand investigations and ramp up the chorus of calls for the governor to step down.

Meanwhile, one of the people who could call for an investigation of Sanford is unlikely to do so – reportedly because it might adversely affect his own gubernatorial ambitions.

S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster – who at the moment is Bauer’s main competition for the 2010 GOP gubernatorial nomination – is reportedly laying off the governor, as is the whole stable of clients affiliated with Richard Quinn.

“The only person keeping Mark Sanford in the Governor’s Office right now is Richard Quinn,” said one Palmetto politico familiar with McMaster’s top political advisor.

Quinn says that’s inaccurate and that he is not advising his clients to back off of Sanford.

“No one has asked me whether or not they should attack Mark Sanford,” Quinn said “Nor have I advised anyone to lay off of him.”

“I’ve told people I feel sorry for him and his family,” Quinn said.

“I feel badly for him, I feel sympathy for him and his family,” Quinn continued. “I wouldn’t want to exacerbate his pain with some political attack.”