Personal Touch at Heart of S.C. Vote

The key to winning an election in South Carolina is not unlike the old shampoo commercial. "And they told two friends, and they told two friends..."

It's called grassroots campaigning -- reaching people where they live and spreading the word through the groups of people they trust and respect.

Local events fight to draw crowds here, further enhancing the word-of-mouth power in the community.

"It makes a candidate look good when he or she shows up at events and there's a good audience who knows the history of the candidate and supports them," says Dr. Laura Woliver, professor of political science at the University of South Carolina and author of "From Outrage to Action: The Politics of Grass-Roots Dissent."

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is relying on grassroots support out of necessity. His campaign lacks the organizational apparatus or funds to saturate the TV market with ads. So he is relying on supporters to woo additional votes in their own communities, such as home schooling families and evangelical Christians.

Jonathan Hill, a 22-year-old South Carolinian who was home-schooled as a child and has never been involved in politics before this year, left his part-time computer technician job this month to wave signs, make phone calls and galvanize ground support for Huckabee.

"A lot of what I'm doing is out of my comfort zone, but I'm doing it because I feel so strongly about Mike Huckabee that I almost can't help it," said Hill, the eldest of six children who were all home schooled. Several other members of his family are also working the Huckabee phone banks this week.

"We had heard Huckabee's name at a conference through our home school organization where we picked up his book 'Character Is the Issue: How People With Integrity Can Revolutionize America.' We got so excited because we felt for the first time ever that we could really support our heart and soul and that we agreed with him 100 percent. We were so impressed with his character," Hill said.

McCain's Military Support

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a veteran himself and vocal supporter of the troops and the war in Iraq, is counting on military families and veterans to come out to vote for him in South Carolina.

"Sen. McCain has a unique advantage over the other major candidates in the field because he is a vet and a war hero," said B.J. Bowling, McCain's South Carolina communications director.

Fort Jackson, located in Columbia, S.C., is one of the largest Army training facilities in the country. Because of its location in a coastal area, Columbia also attracts both retirees and veterans that once trained at the facility.

The McCain campaign has reached out to many of these military families by direct mailings that highlight the senator's military record and his years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. The campaign has also conducted veteran tours throughout the state.

"We've got former POWs who are campaigning at VFW's across the state on behalf of Sen. McCain during the last several weeks," Bowling said.

"Grassroots politics in South Carolina or in places as far away as California is all about leg work, it's about getting on the phones, it's about telling people one-on-one that John McCain is the one man ready to lead from day one," Bowling said.

Clinton's Outreach to Women

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