During the 2012 Republican presidential primary, S.C. Senator Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) was one of the most coveted endorsements on the “First in the South” political board.  The Politico named him one of its “50 politicos to watch” in early voting states, while a CNN story referenced him as a “rising star” in the national Tea Party movement.

To many insiders, though, Davis squandered his moment – choosing to endorse U.S. Rep. Ron Paul over a trio of establishment “Republicans.”  Paul wound up finishing in fourth place in the Palmetto State – although his 80,000 votes represented a five-fold increase over his support from 2008.

So … did Davis squander his moment?

We don’t think so …

Davis’ decision to endorse Paul has netted him an energized army of new South Carolina supporters – a potent base from which to launch a statewide campaign.  And Davis has shown remarkable adeptness at rallying this growing movement behind him – mixing Paul’s libertarian ideology with a fierce populist stump presence that’s eerily reminiscent of the late Louisiana Gov. Huey Long (minus the “every man a king” socialism, naturally).

In an especially feisty speech earlier this week, Davis welcomed Paul to South Carolina – praising him among other things for his efforts to audit the Federal Reserve.

“This is not a Republican issue, it’s not a Democratic issue, it’s not a Libertarian issue, it’s an American issue,” Davis said in his speech.  “It’s in our DNA as Americans to stand up as free people.”

According to Davis, Paul’s movement represents another effort to restore fiscal sanity and respect for individual liberty to the Republican brand – two concepts that have been sorely lacking over the last three decades (with costly consequences).

Davis says that Paul’s movement is pushing back against “the statism of the status quo” within the GOP the same way Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan pushed back in the 1960s and 1980s.

And he’s right … it just remains to be seen whether that push will be sufficient (and sufficiently sustained) to make any difference.

Anyway, here’s a clip featuring some of the most “amped up” portions of Davis’ speech …

(Click to play)

Damn! That’s some fiscal fire and brimstone, people!