Political press secretaries are accustomed to cleaning up their bosses' messes. But the task usually is not as literal as it was for Will Folks this week.
Folks, spokesman for South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R), wrapped up a news conference Thursday in the State House in Columbia by kneeling with cleanser and paper towels to scrub pig feces out of a carpet just outside the House chamber. The porcine poop landed there because Sanford had carried two pigs into the Capitol to taunt lawmakers for loading up the state's $5.5 billion budget with what he considers pork-barrel projects.
Sanford called his gesture a lighthearted jab, the State newspaper in Columbia reported, but several lawmakers were incensed.
"It's the poorest taste I've ever seen in 32 years," thundered state Sen. Verne Smith (R). "To bring pigs in here to mess up the carpet, it's way beneath the dignity of the governor."
The budget clashes between Sanford and the legislature climaxed Wednesday when the House overrode all but one of his 106 line-item vetoes of specific spending items. The governor, addressing reporters Thursday with a pig under each arm and their feces on his suit and shoes (plus the carpet), said, "Pork won, and the taxpayers lost."
Several lawmakers, however, said Sanford is the loser in the porky press event, noting that the State House underwent a $50 million renovation a few years ago. The rancor is all the more remarkable because Sanford's fellow Republicans control both chambers of the legislature.
Intraparty relations seem unlikely to improve soon. House Speaker David Wilkins (R) said of Sanford's stunt: "This is the people's House. He defiled it."
Nader's Matching Funds
There are 7,800 people who are making it possible for Ralph Nader to claim federal matching funds for his independent presidential campaign.
The Nader campaign announced yesterday that it has raised more than $850,000 to date from 7,800 separate contributions. The Federal Election Commission matches contributions of $250 or less. The average contribution was $100, with 89 percent being $100 or less.
"I spent several years in a North Vietnamese prison camp, in the dark, fed with scraps. Do you think I want to do that all over again as vice president of the United States?"
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told Conan O'Brien this week, notwithstanding a new poll showing a Kerry-McCain ticket with a 14-point lead over the Bush-Cheney ticket.
Political researcher Brian Faler contributed to this report.