There was a reception with shrimp, chips and dip next door at Murphy Law Firm, but besides an elderly veteran, no one was there to receive Perry.
“You want to give a little stump speech or something?” a young campaign worker asked him, but Perry did not.
Stop four: There are sprawling trees lining the streets of Walterboro, their limbs dripping with Spanish moss, and as the sun lowered, it cast a golden glow.
Perry shook some hands and strolled down the sidewalk. Aside from the official campaign contingent, he was essentially alone.
He ducked inside Old Bank Christmas & Gifts, wandering past figurines of carolers frozen mid-song and horses mid-gallop.
He stopped in Clarity Spa, where three beauticians said hello.
He walked into a cavernous antiques shop.
“Hi, I’m Rick Perry,” he said to the only person inside, co-owner Jorge Ruiz, an undecided, and wandered deeper into the dark space.
The warm, crooning voice of Michael Buble sang “somewhere in my youth” as Perry walked past a stuffed deer.
It was unclear where he was going, or whether there was a plan.
He walked past antique bird cages and old maps and kept on, reporters and cameras following him. He reached the back of the store.
Perry stopped. He looked at an old flag. He asked Ruiz whether he had any gold-star flags, the ones given to mothers who lost sons in war.
“We don’t,” Ruiz said, and thanked him for coming.
Perry walked back outside and stopped at the antiques shop with the crystals in the window. He saw the lone woman inside. He waved at her and smiled and kept waving.
Last stop: At Fat Jack’s Grillin’ and Chillin’ restaurant, Perry took the microphone and addressed a small dining area of 24 people. His financial backers were on their BlackBerrys.
“We need a Congress, I would suggest to you, that has two limitations,” he said at one point, while in the back, a woman said to a waitress, “Do you have crinkly fries?”
From where he stood, Perry could see the door, and a sketch of a lighthouse at sunset.
“I want to share with you one thing I love about coming to South Carolina,” Perry concluded in his shortest stump speech of the day, naming several South Carolinians who fought with Texans against Mexico.
“I want to thank you for helping with our freedom,” Perry said, and soon, he had his, at least for now.
He skipped the usual handshakes and sped off, just as a woman was crossing the half-empty parking lot to see him.
“Is he gone?” she asked.