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Palmetto Political Stock Index: 5/12/2023

A cat named … what?

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If you had told us heading into 2023 that former U.S. president Donald Trump would a) be criminally indicted and b) participate in a lengthy town hall moderated by (gasp) CNN … we would have wondered which event would wind up hurting him the most in the polls.

As it turns out, Trump received a big big bump from being indicted and is poised to receive an even bigger uptick in the polls after simultaneously rallying his base and dividing his rivals during Wednesday night’s nationally televised town hall on … yes … CNN.

Trump also has some serious mojo working amongst the rest of the Republican field. For example, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley stayed strangely silent in response to questions about a recent civil settlement in a sexual abuse case brought against Trump by advice columnist E. Jean Carroll.

Hmmmm …

Perhaps Haley didn’t receive the “cat named vagina” talking points in time …

How did Trump’s town hall (and other developments from the past week) impact the presidential field?

You’ve come to the right place …

The Palmetto Political Stock Index is compiled weekly by our founding editor Will Folks and our political columnist Mark Powell. Got a hot “stock tip” for their consideration? Email Will ( and/ or Mark ( Just make sure to include “Palmetto Political Stock Index” in the subject line.

Remember, our installment is simply a reflection of how individuals (or institutions) fared in the past seven days. It doesn’t root for candidates – or against them. Positive reports don’t reflect an endorsement or support, and negative ones don’t indicate a vendetta. We just call ‘em like we see ‘em. To borrow Walter Cronkite’s famous line, “That’s the way it is….” No more, no less. 

To view last week’s installment, click here. And to get your historical fix, click here.

Where should you invest your political capital this week? To the index!




Seldom in television history has a network hatchet job struck with the ferocity of CNN’s Town Hall with Donald Trump on Wednesday night. The network’s Kaitlan Collins wielded her hatchet with the expertise of Lizzie Borden. The only problem? She wound up chopping off her own foot. 

The forum was supposed to have been an exchange between Trump and undecided New Hampshire Republicans. Instead, Collins turned it into a one-on-one debate between herself and the former president. Displaying all the charm of a Brillo pad, the moderator-turned-prosecutor hogged the first twenty minutes of the event by haranguing Trump with the Left’s favorite talking points – the 2020 election results, the January 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol riot, etc. But there was no dialogue; Collins berated Trump, cut him off in mid-sentence, and essentially called him a liar over and over.

Never a shrinking violet, Trump had no trouble brushing off the lightweight host. In fact, the former president performed so well by the end of the evening luminaries on the left were bashing the network for “giving him a forum.”

Voters in attendance were clearly turned off by Collins’ street brawler approach, which left them both sympathetic to Trump (“I was here to listen to his answers, not her endless questions,” one unhappy participant griped afterward) and disliking Collins (“She’s clearly Not Ready For Prime Time” one observer said of her dismal performance).

If this was meant to be CEO Chris Licht’s unveiling of his much-ballyhooed “New CNN,” it was a major flop. Because it looked identical to the Trump-bashing old CNN.

There’s a time and a place for tough questions for every candidate, Trump included. There’s also a right and wrong way to ask them. Collins’ heavy-handed bludgeoning eventually goaded Trump into snapping, “you’re a nasty person.” While we have no idea what Collins is like off camera, it’s difficult to dispute that assessment of her televised snit fit.




Let’s start with the obvious: Most Republicans in South Carolina – and elsewhere – genuinely like Tim Scott (and with good reason). He’s a genuinely likable guy who is sincere and has done a commendable job as a congressman and U.S. senator. So far, so good.

But as a presidential candidate, one ingredient has been missing from the recipe for a successful campaign: Excitement.

In fairness, Scott has never pretended to be a Vegas-style flashy politician. He’s more substance than Razmataz. Which is to his credit. But let’s be honest: A winning presidential candidate must also have a certain amount of showmanship, a dash of Professor Harold Hill from “The Music Man,” who makes people believe in things they cannot see.

That quality was lacking during Scott’s foray into First-in-the-Nation (at least for Republicans) New Hampshire on Monday. As we acknowledged earlier, folks there liked him. But did he sell them on voting for him? The jury is out on that.

Also noteworthy about his visit up North: Scott scrubbed the faith and values material that is a mainstay of his talks down South. Given that New Hampshire is consistently rated one of the most secular states in America, less “We need to return to God” and more “We need to get government’s house in order” was probably sound politics. But at some point, he’ll need to pick emphasizing one over the other.

We fully expect a cheering crowd to wish him well when Scott officially commences his presidential campaign on the 22nd of this month. But how far that excitement will extend beyond South Carolina’s state line remains to be seen.  

The good news? So far Trump hasn’t recommend Scott get a “personality transplant” – a criticism he has leveled at another candidate in the GOP field.




Title 42 expired. A tidal wave of illegal immigrants flooded into the country with impunity. The U.S. Border Patrol was powerless to stop them.

What else do we have to say?     

Nothing … except Biden is scrambling hard to reverse course before the borders are completely overwhelmed.




For months, the Florida governor’s people have been telling his increasingly antsy supporters, “Hang on. The governor must tend to his day job before entering the presidential race. Just wait till the Florida legislative session ends. Then he’ll jump in.”

Well, that session ended on May 5. Seven days and counting later, Team DeSantis appears to be moving with the speed of molasses in January. And there is still no announcement in sight.

True, unglamorous but important steps are underway behind the scenes. For example, he recently and quietly distanced himself from his state PAC – a step he needed to take before becoming a presidential candidate. It’s the clearest signal yet that an announcement is forthcoming.

But it’s not enough to appease DeSantis loyalists. In the words of those old black-and-white adventure movies from the 1940s, “Listen! The natives are restless!”

The question is, are they listening in Tallahassee, too? 




Love him or hate him, The Donald’s lucky political streak just keeps rolling on. First, a Manhattan jury unanimously found the former president liable for sexually assaulting a woman – and ordered him to shell out $5 million for it. (Trump’s lawyers say they will appeal).

That was followed in short order by CNN’s farce of a town hall in Manchester, N.H., where its naked anti-Trump bias was openly paraded like Lady Godiva.

That allowed Trump to sit back, point at the two events, and say, “See? See how the same people who gave you Joe Biden are working overtime to stop me?”

Campaigning doesn’t get much easier than that …   




Here’s a refresher: Nikki Haley ran for state representative in 2004. And in 2006. And in 2008. She ran for governor in 2010. And in 2014. Today, she’s running for president. 

Suddenly, though, Haley is in favor of term limits for elected officials – well, as long as it’s not for an office she is seeking. Haley’s campaign says the former ambassador to the United Nations favors a congressional amendment imposing a limit of three terms (6 years) for the U.S. House and two for the U.S. Senate (12 years). It’s a bold move for someone who has been running for one office or another ever since George W. Bush was president.

Interestingly, the other item of interest from Haley’s orbit this week was something she didn’t say – specifically her repeated refusal to answer questions about the verdict in this week’s Trump sexual abuse case.

“I’m not going to get into that,” Haley told reporters.

Wait … wasn’t Haley the hardest of the hardcore #NeverTrumpers at one point?

Hmmmm …. Trump wished her well when she entered the race (when did Donald Trump ever skip trash-talking any opponent?) and now she sidesteps his latest controversy?

Could the Trump and Haley camps be playing political footsie under the table?



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Bob May 12, 2023 at 6:08 pm

I liked all the parts where the mango mussolini incriminated itself even further in the multiple criminal probes currently going on around it.

Democrats are getting all the ammo they need against the already hugely unpopular GQP.

Observer May 12, 2023 at 7:26 pm

These weekly dispatches from the deranged mind of a Republican water carrier are very interesting. These people are in an entirely different reality than a majority of voters. Bring on 2024!

Incredibly stupid analysis, but entertaining nonetheless.

Nanker Phelge May 12, 2023 at 10:22 pm


It’s Will’s Friday Funnies! This weekly feature is only for comedic purposes, right? Amazing that it takes 2 geniuses to come up with these hot takes.

Prediction: Joe Biden will be FALLING every week. DullSantis and Trump will never be FALLING; if they can’t be proclaimed either HOLDING or RISING they will not be included.

Mix of both May 13, 2023 at 12:17 pm

You really have to be a clueless idiot detached from reality or a willful liar with zero credibility.

Which one describes Will Folks?

RC May 15, 2023 at 1:55 pm

Republicans: Rising or holding
Democrats: Falling

Tune in next week for more political analysis!


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