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Palmetto Political Stock Index: 9/3/2023

Riders on the storm …

Welcome to a special Labor Day weekend edition of the Palmetto Political Stock Index – your weekly deep dive into the moves and machinations of those vying for votes in South Carolina, a state which (for better or worse) picks American presidents.

The winds of change were indeed blowing this past week, mostly from Hurricane Idalia – a category four monster which moved through Florida’s Big Bend doing at least $20 billion worth of damage as it ripped through the Sunshine State.

With a pair of Florida politicians in the presidential mix, the handling (or mis-handling) of this hurricane had significant political implications … which we are here to break down for our audience.

FITSNews founding editor Will Folks and political columnist Mark Powell compile this index each week. In it, we track the rising and falling fortunes of individuals and institutions as well as the interplay of state and national politics in our early-voting South Carolina home, which hosts the quadrennial “First in the South” Republican presidential primary. 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.



Remember, our index is simply an assessment of how subjects discussed herein fared over the past seven days. Positive reports don’t reflect endorsements, and negative ones shouldn’t be construed as vendettas. We just call ‘em like we see ‘em. Also, just because your favorite/ least favorite politician didn’t wind up on this week’s index – that doesn’t mean we aren’t still tracking them. Look for them in future reports … and, of course, you can check prior installments to see how we’ve covered them in the past. To view last week’s index, click here. And to get your historical fix, click here.

On tap this week?

A senator’s blank stare sends Capitol Hill buzzing — again …

Nice guys finish last …

A “storm surge” for Ron DeSantis?

Stocks were trading like a whirlwind last week following the havoc wreaked by Idalia. And as crews clean up in its aftermath, we’re here to assist you in making sense of a very hectic week in politics …




Does this guy ever take a break from getting it wrong? In a kind of “SCOTUS, Schmotus!” reaction, Joe Biden‘s administration blatantly ignored a recent U.S. supreme court ruling and doled out $72 million in student loan debt “forgiveness” last week. This time the lucky beneficiaries were more than 3,200 people who had taken classes from an online university that didn’t live up to its billing. (Apparently, the timeless warning caveat emptor—“Let the buyer beware”—doesn’t apply to folks who fall for sketchy fly-by-night learning scams.)

What has Biden’s latest profligacy produced? Fitch Ratings cited excessive spending and tax policies when it downgraded Uncle Sam’s creditworthiness from the prestigious AAA to AA+ a few weeks ago. It was the second credit rating firm to do so.

Likewise, it’s “down” for Biden this week.




Say so long (for now) to Francis Suarez, who became the first candidate to drop out of the crowded 2024 GOP presidential field last week.

“While I have decided to suspend my campaign for President, my commitment to making this a better nation for every American remains,” Suarez wrote on X. “I will continue to amplify the voices of the Hispanic community – the fastest-growing voting group in our country. The Left has taken Hispanics for granted for far too long, and it is no surprise that so many are finding a home in America’s conservative movement. Our party must continue doing more to include and attract this vibrant community that believes in our country’s foundational values: faith, family, hard work and freedom. Younger voters, Independents, urban voters and suburban women – all of whom I’ve carried in previous elections – among others, should find a comfortable home in the GOP and its policies.”

Miami’s mayor was always the longest of long-shots in this race. First, he was stuck in a primary where Donald Trump continues to suck all of the oxygen out of the room. Second, running in the same race with your state’s governor automatically assigns you to a secondary slot. Being dissed by the RNC and not being invited to the recent Republican debate was the final straw. Suarez had the good sense to pack it in early and call it quits.

He also has the distinction of being the first person in the history of our index to receive both rising and falling ratings simultaneously – in the same week. While Saurez’s stock is obviously “falling” due to his aborted 2024 campaign, he left the race before pissing anyone off and harming his long-term political prospects. That keeps Suarez 2028 alive, which merits a “rising” rating.




To borrow from the immortal Britney Spears, “Oops!…he did it again.” Capitol Hill was humming last week after U.S. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell appeared to endure another cognitive lapse. For the second time this summer, McConnell had an “incident” in the middle of a news conference last week. The 81-year-old “Republican” froze during questioning and stared blankly ahead until an aide stepped in and intervened.

“Alright, I’m sorry, you all,” the aide announced. “We’re going to need a moment.”

Another aide then whispered something in McConnell’s ear. The octogenarian senator eventually regained alertness and resumed answering questions.

All too predictably, McConnell’s doc pronounced him fit as a fiddle for work on Friday. But that probably won’t calm the jitters his team will feel every time he faces a gaggle of reporters from now on.

As we wrote in July, we’re against age discrimination. But we are also opposed to public officials clinging to jobs when they are clearly impaired to the point they can no longer perform their duties. McConnell has sadly joined the ranks of Diane Feinstein, Chuck Grassley, and a certain resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue who is currently seeking another four-year stint in office. Self-important Hill staffers and power-obsessed political parties need to put their selfish interests aside. It’s time the political world practices the warning seen in bars:

“Know when to say ‘when.’”

For the love of God, let elderly officeholders retire with their dignity intact!  




Mother Nature may been harsh to the Gulf Coast, but she blew favorable political winds the Florida governor’s way. Hurricane Idalia’s approach required Ron DeSantis to put active presidential campaigning on hold last week so he could tend to his day job. Even Joe Biden – who never met a Republican putdown he didn’t like – laid off from attacking his Republican rival during the storm.

By most accounts, DeSantis did a commendable job handling Idalia and the destruction it caused. That’s important because just as a president is the chief executive of the federal government, a governor is the chief executive of his state government. For a full week, television viewers saw DeSantis as a capable leader – and you can’t buy coverage like that. More importantly, it gave DeSantis a much-needed break from the chattering class harping about his lame campaign operation.

There was a tempest in a teapot on Saturday when Biden toured storm damage in Live Oak, Florida. The governor and the president he’s seeking to replace didn’t appear together – which was probably just as well. With Biden playing nice for the time being and DeSantis on hiatus from the hustings, what would they have to talk about anyway? 




To hear the Haley campaign tell it, the former governor is suddenly catching fire with home-state Republicans – and enjoying a bit of a bounce nationally, as well.

With her acolytes in the mainstream media pushing this narrative, Haley’s staff launched a new outreach aimed at attracting young voters. She also made headlines by slamming the U.S. Senate as “the most privileged nursing home in the country.” But is attacking old age really a smart move in a state where a big chunk of GOP voters can recall wearing “Nixon Now” buttons?

The big news for Haley was a memo sent to major Trump donors and leading supporters from Tony Fabrizio, pollster for the Trump-aligned MAGA Inc. Super PAC. It claimed while the former president remains well ahead in the race, the battle for the second spot is now a contest between Haley and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. Both were perceived by many as the winners in last month’s GOP debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As for Florida governor Ron Desantis, Fabrizio wrote that “the much hoped for DeSantis ‘bounce’ was really a ‘dead cat bounce’ – in that it doesn’t exist. Why? Because these voters didn’t see a DeSantis debate win – far from it.”

With pronouncements like these in hand, Team Haley is focused on cementing the perception of her in second place. And it seems clear establishment Republicans are breaking her way. But if the 2016 primary taught us anything, it’s that this faction doesn’t call the shots in the GOP anymore.

Seriously, has anyone heard anything from Jeb! lately?

With two big events scheduled in South Carolina this coming week, we’ll be watching closely to see if the claimed groundswell of home-state support for Haley is real … or only a figment of her campaign’s imagination. More importantly, we will be keeping a close eye on her national numbers and her status in other key early-voting states.




The other candidate dubbed by many as the “winner” in last month’s debate, Vivek Ramaswamy is basking in the glow of his pumped-up profile. The Ohio entrepreneur is now officially on the radar screen – and he’s got the polling numbers to prove it. Hovering at around 4 percent in the polls at the Fourth of July; by Labor Day, Ramaswamy was regularly registering between 8 and 15 percent, depending on the survey. That’s a noteworthy increase in a very short period of time.

Everyone is talking about him. He’s getting more and more time on network TV news shows and is gradually directing the conversation to issues he wants to talk about. That’s a campaign manager’s dream come true.

But Ramaswamy’s rise in Republican ranks comes with risks. The higher profile he gets the larger and more tempting a target he becomes to his rivals. Look for a sharp increase in the slings and arrows heading his way after the Labor Day holiday is behind us …




Speaking of launching slings and arrows, they may want to consider playing the old Alice Cooper song “No More Mr. Nice Guy” at Scott’s campaign headquarters these days. At least, that’s the message folks in Scott’s orbit are putting out. 

Still licking his wounds after his tepid performance in last month’s debate, the senator tried shifting into attack mode last week. (Though “attack mode” is relative; compared to the broadsides fired by Trump, Haley, Pence, and Christie, Scott’s admonishments sounded more like a Sunday school teacher’s scolding.)

Consider these examples: He called Ramaswamy a “good showman” and chided DeSantis, Haley, and North Dakota governor Doug Burgum for failing to support a nationwide 15-week abortion ban. That probably had his competitors shaking in their boots.

Transforming from Dr. Jekyl into Mr. Hyde may work in movies, but it rarely succeeds in politics. Still, Scott’s campaign is persisting with the transformation. Which brings us to one of the funniest lines we heard last week. Referring to the second GOP debate coming up on September 27, a person close to the senator’s campaign was quoted as saying Scott was “going to come out hot.”

Many words have been used to describe Tim Scott over the years, but “hot” was never, ever one of them. The word we’re using for this week’s rating for him is “holding.”    




Congressman Jeff Duncan’s annual pre-Labor Day event has been a “must-attend” gathering for Republican politicos for a long time now. It draws big crowds, big names and generally provides attendees with a big time.

But its 12th installment last week fell flat. Many attendees said Monday’s gathering wasn’t as good as in recent years. For starters, it didn’t help when one of the night’s big attractions – Florida governor Ron DeSantis, was forced to cancel with a hurricane barreling toward his state. His wife Casey DeSantis gamely filled in, but let’s face it — not as many people are willing to turn out on a school night to hear the candidate’s wife.. The other drawing card was Tim Scott – who is obviously a new phenomenon nationally, but not to South Carolina voters.

Overall, the feedback from multiple attendees was that this year’s barbecue had a “meh” vibe. Here’s hoping Duncan and his staff get their mojo back for a boffo event in 2024. For now, though, it’s a “holding” rating. 




Here we go again. As summer heads into the home stretch, the number of Covid-19 cases in the country is steadily rising. And guess what? The “sky is falling” crowd is screaming for a return to mask mandates. Because, you know, they were so effective in safeguarding the general population last time around. (Cue the eye roll.)

It seems liberals fear being left at the station when the next mask mandate train gets moving. From Morris Brown College in Atlanta to entertainment giant Lionsgate’s Los Angeles headquarters to United Health Service’s facilities in New York, new mask mandates are already in place – with more being added daily. 

It’s more than coincidental that this latest round of mask mania is gearing up just as we head into the 2024 election cycle. However, Americans aren’t as naïve on this subject as they were the last time around.




Say what you will about Alan Wilson, but South Carolina’s attorney general isn’t one to shy away from legal fights with important political overtones. And he has a boatload of goodwill from GOP voters who are pleased with his standing up on issues that matter to them.

Consider Wilson’s participation in an 18-state coalition rallying in defense of Tennessee’s new Adult Entertainment Act. Opponents mislabel this bill as a “drag show ban,” but as Wilson correctly pointed out, the law merely states that “a drag entertainer can’t perform sexually explicit performances at a library, or anywhere else where children may be present.”

“The same rules apply for an exotic dancer or anyone else.”

The question we should be asking is not whether drag queens have the right to put on shows at public libraries and other places where children gather, but more importantly, why do drag queens want to perform for children in the first place? 



The Outrage-o-Meter registered so high on this one last week it was in danger of shattering. People around the country were furious over what happened in a Colorado school district.

It all started when a 12-year-old middle schooler identified in news reports as “Jaiden” showed up at Vanguard School, a public charter school in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with a patch of the Gadsden flag on his backpack. You may not know the name, but you’re likely familiar with its image of a coiled snake accompanied by the words “Don’t Tread on Me.” 

A videotaped meeting between Jaiden’s mom and a school administrator showed the functionary insisting the flag wasn’t allowed on campus “due to its origins with slavery and the slave trade.”

The only problem is, the Gadsden flag was an important symbol — in the Revolutionary War! 

The school district dug in its heels, with the administrator writing in a subsequent email that “many now see the Gadsden flag as a symbol of intolerance and hate — or even racism.”  

And there it was, at last, the woke/ progressive crowd’s favorite Boogey Man of all, the “R Word.”

The outcry was so intense even Colorado’s Democratic governor Jared Polis jumped in to defend the boy.

“The Gadsden flag is a proud symbol of the American revolution and a iconic warning to Britain or any government not to violate the liberties of Americans,” Polis tweeted. “It appears on popular American medallions and challenge coins through today and Ben Franklin also adopted it to symbolize the union of the 13 colonies. It’s a great teaching moment for a history lesson!”

The educrat establishment insists there is no Marxist-inspired, CRT-driven thinking in schools today. The growing mountain of evidence proves otherwise.  



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Observer (the real one) September 3, 2023 at 10:56 am

This week’s political stock is the same as every past week’s…

Republicans are continuing their flaming dumpster fire of a party’s demise. No Republican has a chance of winning the White House. They will likely lose the House too. Republicans have put all their “stock” in a pathological liar, who is facing nearly 100 felonies. The Republican Party is now run by incompetent crack pot, bigot, trolls who have no positive policies or personal traits to attract normal Americans voters. Just hate and insanity.

Thomas September 3, 2023 at 12:12 pm

I saw some of the debate, wanted to see if the moderators we’re in fact going to prosecute trump during the debate. I saw the part where Haley, not the only Indian on stage (delighted), got into a whiney bitch argument with Ramshackle or whatever. We don’t need another whiney bitch in the Whitehouse, I pondered. Afer whiney bitch trump, I’m sure we all can agree, whiney bitches are ineffective governing. Speaking of wh8ney bitches who would she pick to populate WH positions? She would draw from her SC roots, and that is what has me worried. Trump cherry picked many from SC to be in his administration. All were failures, not ready for prime time. Her picks will be worse. Trey for Atty General? That pos has said publicaly he sucks in math, lowest in his law school class, mediocre in all things, so pick him cuz he’s from SC? Oh, hell no. And Scott? That whiney bitch? Start a church, Tim. You have no clue about Christianity. After her quitting the UN gig, unread in any subject, a husband token that no one has ever heard speak but saved us in afghanistan, grifting off the SC national guard for a pension check, one whiney bitch is enough

Elephant Graveyard September 5, 2023 at 8:29 am

IDK man, Republicans might not be able to identify with a candidate that isn’t a “whiney bitch.” That’s a huge chunk of their demographic that will feel underrepresented.

Yawn September 3, 2023 at 12:17 pm

Why are Republican kooks trying to make COVID a thing again?

Probably because they have nothing else to stir up voters.

All the wokeness hysteria, Hunter Biden, hate and fear mongering not working anymore?

Mister Ed, Registered Lobbyist September 5, 2023 at 8:30 am

Probably to get those sweet, sweet veterinary pharmaceutical bucks.


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