Today, Hillary Clinton traveled to the small city of Aiken, in South Carolina, and gave a 'prepared message' at 1:00 EST, this afternoon. The senator will have had to have made a big impression to knock this local story off the front page.
But everything they do down in the bible belt, in South Carolina, seems rougher, tougher and bigger than almost anywhere else. The currency of South Carolina politics is that the larger the lie, the harder they try to pass it off as bona fide, or in the words of Joseph Goebbels, "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."
Political mudslinging appears to be a cottage industry in South Carolina. The once staid London Times byline for South Carolina's primary reads 'Snarls, smears and innuendo for Hillary Clinton as attack dogs get ready for the fray'.
Welcome to South Carolina, the foulest swamp of electoral dirty tricks in America. This state's primary race has already become the sleaziest leg of the 2008 presidential campaign.
Here, political operatives know only one way to win: take your opponent's head off.
For Republicans, in particular, it is crucial: since South Carolina gained its first-in-the-South status in 1980, no Republican has received the party nomination without winning the state.
South Carolina is a do-or-die state again," said Rod Shealy, a veteran Republican consultant, over a meal of fried pork and beans in his favourite diner, the Lizard's Thicket. "The attacks are already coming on a daily basis. And with the anonymity of the internet, we're going to see new lows in dirty politics that would have been unimaginable recently."
Mr Shealy knows a thing or two about dirty politics. In 1990, when running his sister's campaign for lieutenant governor, he paid an unemployed black fisherman facing felony charges to run for Congress to increase white voter turnout. He was convicted of breaking campaign laws.
Mr Shealy is among a small band of political consultants who wield enormous influence in South Carolina. They are bitter rivals and all learnt their trade from Lee Atwater, a South Carolina native and the first President Bush's notorious and venal attack dog. Dirty politics ran in his blood. He once explained that the way to win a campaign lay in "strippin' the bark off an opponent".
Hillary may feel lucky if the million dollar counterfeit man is still the biggest story in the former 'All-America' city of Aiken after today, if South Carolina custom is anything to go on.
UPDATE: How did Hillary do? Pretty good, and with only one heckler.
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