Palmetto Political Stock Index: 7/30/2023

Thoughts and … prayer breakfasts?

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It was the quip heard ’round the prayer breakfast – a playful and (apparently) well-received joke by congresswoman Nancy Mace last Wednesday morning about forsaking the arms of a loved one to make sure she arrived on time at U.S. senator Tim Scott‘s annual social conservative gathering in our nation’s capital.

The “problem?” The loving arms forsaken by Mace that morning (at least momentarily) belonged to her fiancee … a.k.a. her “not husband.”

This acknowledgement threw many in the GOP several decades in reverse … sparking a wave of 1950s revulsion at the notion of two consenting adults having (gasp) premarital sex. Or rather not having it at that particular moment. But still living together. Again, two consenting adults … who are engaged to be married.

Was Mace a victim of sexual McCarthyism? Or could she have picked a better venue to channel her inner Marvelous Mrs. Maisel? Whatever their view of the situation, people couldn’t stop watching the clip. The video we tweeted of Mace making her remark has been watched nearly 500,000 times … and that’s just our iteration of this publicly available footage.

Though Mace is the lede to our index (and has been on the rise in recent weeks as a potential vice presidential contender) she didn’t get a rating from us this week. Why not? Because it’s far too soon to assess the impact of her prayer breakfast confessional … which caused our founding editor to blush a time or two during the latest episode of our popular ‘Week in Review‘ program.



So far, all we know is both Mace and her political rivals in Washington, D.C. have been “leaning into” this story … i.e. pushing it out into the political bloodstream … indicating both sides believed the dust-up was a good thing for their interests.

We suppose future indices will reveal who was correct …

Our founding editor Will Folks and political columnist Mark Powell compile the Palmetto Political Stock Index each week – tracking rising and falling candidate fortunes as well as the interplay of state and national politics in our early-voting home. Got a hot “stock tip” for our consideration? Email Will (here) and/ or Mark (here). Just make sure to include “Palmetto Political Stock Index” in the subject line.

To reiterate: The index is simply an assessment of how the individuals (or institutions) we list fared over the past week. Positive reports certainly don’t reflect endorsements, and negative ones aren’t at all indicative of vendettas. 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. 

On this week’s agenda?

A “stress test” for Trump …

A rollercoaster ride for DeSantis …

And woes that won’t go away for a South Carolina congressman …

And remember, just because your favorite (or least favorite) politician didn’t wind up on this week’s list doesn’t mean we aren’t still tracking them. Look for them to appear in future indices … and, of course, you can always check prior installments to see how we’ve covered them in the past. To view last week’s edition, click here. And to get your historical fix, click here.

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




When architects design skyscrapers and major bridges, they put their plans through simulated stress tests. These tests are designed, according to experts, “to reveal the conditions that could lead to failure.”

The campaign of former U.S. president Donald Trump is undergoing such a stress test at the moment. His successor’s weaponized Department of Justice (DOJ) piled on more charges last week related to Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents at his Florida home. Meanwhile, war drums are beating increasingly louder in neighboring Georgia, where a progressive district attorney is making it clear another criminal case is about to drop there. Along the Potomac, attorney general Merrick Garland – who was snubbed by Trump for the Supreme Court – is signaling his office will likely be indicting the former president in yet another case, this one stemming from the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riots.

The barrage of unprecedented legal actions on every conceivable front directed at both a former president and a current presidential candidate — and the accompanying tsunami of negative media coverage provided gratis by the Democrats’ Echo Chamber (aka the Mainstream Media) — is creating a political stress test of epic proportions.

For the moment, Trump is handling it about as well as can be expected. His poll numbers have dipped, but not enough to indicate an imminent wave of short selling. Meanwhile, the MAGA base is making it abundantly clear it’s not going anywhere. In fact, the more criminal charges the Democrats pile on, the deeper MAGA digs in its heels.

Here’s the thing, though: The GOP also wants to back a winner. With a multi-million dollar ad blitz from the right already trying to brand Trump as unelectable in 2024 (and solely to blame for 2022’s underperformance by the Republican party) … could the legal blitzkrieg catch him in a pincers?

As philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche famously pointed out, “that which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Donald Trump is about to put Nietzsche to the ultimate test.  




Is there no depth to the pettiness of the “big guy?” When he ran in 2020, candidate Joe Biden pitched himself as being skilled in the art of bipartisanship. If you don’t recall that, it’s easy to understand why; his hand was barely off the Bible from taking the oath when he dropped the charade, morphing into a hyper-partisan hack who demonizes everyone who dares disagree with him (or his teleprompter).

It was bad enough Biden stripped New Hampshire Democrats of their cherished status as the home of the First-in-the-Nation presidential primary (an honor his minions dutifully bestowed on South Carolina instead) after being soundly trounced there in the 2008 and 2020 primaries. Now he’s denying something essential to his Democratic rival.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. revealed late last week that the U.S. Secret Service is refusing to provide him with protection. Why? Official Washington played “Pass the Buck” (D.C.’s favorite game), shifting the explanation from one agency to another. But a decision of that magnitude doesn’t happen without the big guy’s tacit approval. (If you believe otherwise, let me tell you about a certain bridge for sale in New York City). Ironically, the 1968 assassination of RFK, Jr.’s father led to presidential candidates receiving Secret Service protection in the first place.

But wait, it gets even worse for Biden. On Friday, he finally publicly acknowledged the granddaughter his son Hunter sired out of wedlock — four years after the child’s birth. And speaking of Hunter, Biden the Elder is still reeling after his son’s plea deal on an assortment of federal charges unexpectedly fell apart last week. The White House is now terrified First Daddy could be compelled to testify under oath about his son’s alleged misdeeds, thus lifting the curtain on the Family Biden’s sleazy financial dealings.

Joe Biden, petty? Only when you cross him. At which point, he behaves like a Mafia boss out to settle an old score.




The last full week of July was not kind to the Florida governor. So much went so wrong, it’s hard to know where to start.

First, poll numbers that looked so rosily optimistic last winter are drooping during the dog days of summer. That was followed by a four-car crash in Tennessee involving DeSantis on Tuesday morning as he was heading to a Chattanooga fundraiser. (The governor was unhurt; a staffer sustained minor injuries). Next, after months of spending money like a drunken sailor on shore leave, his campaign was forced to lay off one-third of its staff. Then there was the campaign speechwriter who somehow felt the need to create and share a video featuring DeSantis’ face over Florida’s state seal morphing into a Sonnenrad – a symbol appropriated by the Nazis and a favorite of white supremacist groups.

(He’s now an ex-speechwriter).

Garnishing this dour scenario was the onslaught of assaults on DeSantis over Florida’s new public school history curriculum for K-12 students. A single sentence in the massive 200-page document is attracting a firestorm of interest: “Slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.” That triggered an angry backlash, including a rare rebuke from South Carolina’s own Tim Scott.

“Slavery is a deprivation of freedom,” Scott said. “It is antithetical to who we are. It doesn’t need to be explained.”

Through it all, the governor kept up a brisk campaign schedule, trudging through Iowa while gamely shrugging off the barrage of bad news. And amid the three-ring media circus, he also said something substantive: America must summon the courage to tackle a leading driver of federal debt — entitlement programs. It was a bold position, especially for the head of a state with so many seniors. 

Will it be enough to right his listing campaign ship? The clock is clearly ticking for the SS DeSantis … who for the moment is hanging on to his status as the only real first-tier challenger to Trump.




Speaking of second tier candidates challenging Trump, the former governor of South Carolina finally got some good news from the campaign trial this week. Recent polling showed Nikki Haley drawing solid numbers here in the Palmetto State. (Though, in fairness, that’s like South Carolina head football coach Shane Beamer polling strongly among Gamecock fans after his team snapped its nine-year losing streak to arch-rival Clemson). 

To her immense credit, Haley is still speaking out forcefully about the need for entitlement reform mentioned earlier. It’s an act of political courage to do so in a Republican primary campaign – but Haley has forced other candidates (like DeSantis) to start talking about it, too.

That’s important, because it means Haley – who is working Iowa and New Hampshire with the intensity of a traveling salesman living off commissions – is driving the debate. Exerting outsized influence over the primary field.

Still, as of this writing her support remains at the bottom of the pack. 

Haley will have one last, best shot to escape from the clump of second-tier also-rans in the first Republican debate in Milwaukee next month. Setting herself apart from the herd could provide the breakout she needs. If she doesn’t, you can’t help but wonder whether she’ll still be in the race when South Carolina’s primary rolls around next February. 




An old adage that’s repeated a lot in political circles says, “When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” Well, somebody needs to snatch the shovel out of William Timmons’ hands.

The congressman made his calamitously chaotic personal life a topic of conversation last spring when he sent an unsolicited statement to the press asking for “prayers and privacy” as he and his wife dealt with a “difficult private matter.” Timmons then stoked the fire by getting angry when it became clear he could no longer contain this scandal of his own making.

His latest moves? Allegedly threatening the estranged spouse of his mistress … while he bankrolls her divorce case.

Against this backdrop, Timmons had the audacity to attend Scott’s prayer breakfast in Washington, D.C. (where he has moved his mistress to be closer to him). There, he spoke of the values necessary to restore the American Republic … somehow managing to avoid a lightning strike in the process.

Maybe the attendees were too focused on Mace’s PG-13 admission?

Timmons hails from one of the wealthiest families in the Palmetto State … yet he continues to prove another old adage, “money cannot buy class.”




It was the thousand-yard stare heard round the world. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell fell silent and gazed off into the distance for an uncomfortable nineteen seconds during a Senate news conference on Wednesday afternoon before being led away by GOP colleagues. 

The 81-year-old McConnell eventually returned to the gaggle, said he felt fine, and his office later insisted he’ll continue serving in office (his term expires in January 2027), despite falling and hurting his head earlier this year.

Still, the incident was a powerful reminder the upper house of Congress is America’s unofficial national geriatric center. Take California’s 90-year-old Dianne Feinstein, who has displayed increasing alertness issues. Iowa’s Chuck Grassley turns 90 in September. In fact, 22 of the 100 senators are 70 or older. (That number increases to 23 on New Year’s Day when New Mexico’s Bob Menendez turns 70 and joins the club). Majority leader Chuck Schumer is practically a spry youngster at 72.

Age discrimination is wrong. But so is hanging on to the job when one can no longer competently perform the duties of a United States senator.

It would do well if senators put country before party and self and started asking themselves the question posed in Barbra Streisand’s hit song from long ago:

“I wanted the music to play on forever,

Have I stayed too long at the fair?”




Stop for a moment and catalog the many problems confronting us: An economy in the toilet; energy that’s painfully expensive (with critical supply shortages looming); China blatantly snapping up real estate near hush-hush government installations and brazenly sending a spy balloon to leisurely float over the heartland while snapping spy pics overhead … we could go on and on, but you get the idea.

And amid all these pressing problems, what does Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-where else?—California) believe is the biggest bugaboo that must be immediately tackled? She wants to words “husband” and “wife” scrubbed from federal laws and replaced with the generic “spouse.” She introduced her “Amend the Code for Marriage Equality Act” bill this month to do it.

Look, just because Brownley and California have opted to hop on the Crazy Train, the rest of America is not obliged to ride along with them.

They say Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Well, woke Brownley is pushing radical extremism while America comes apart at the seams.



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Observer July 30, 2023 at 12:51 pm

It must be very depressing to be a Republican these days.

Your politicians are all incompetent clowns who get continually owned by a very elderly old man. Every time one opens their mouth, they self own themselves and create a big laugh from normal Americans.

The snowflake act over “wokeness” and trans-hate aren’t getting any traction with normal Americans and independent voters. Neither is the crazy Moms for Liberty type-groups.

The States and towns run by Republicans are dangerous, crime and disease ridden failures.

I could go on, but even I’m getting depressed pointing out these facts.

RC July 31, 2023 at 12:07 pm

In Will’s world, Biden is somehow both suffering from dementia but also manages to be a cold and calculating politico.

Just Fascist Things August 1, 2023 at 12:11 am

The enemy is both weak and strong.

Shame, Shame, Shame August 1, 2023 at 12:10 am

Always cartoonish to read this blog. Biden is always falling, Trump is always holding or rising. The entire shoe warehouse is dropping for Don but of course that just means Will has to carry more water for him.

Ralph Hightower Top fan August 1, 2023 at 11:28 am

Well, we know how Nancy Mace will respond to another mass shooting.
I’m thinking that I’ll write a check out to politicians with the amount made out as “Thoughts and Prayers”.

However, it looks like Nancy is groveling to be selected as the VP on the ticket. But, there’s no way in he’ll that Mace will be on the ticket if Scott is nominated.


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