‘Birtherism’ rises to the top of the GOP scrum in South Carolina

Last night's GOP presidential debate in South Carolina had many memorable exchanges, but none compared to this seven-minute discussion between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz over the Texas senator’s birth in Canada to a mother who was a U.S. citizen.

Cut this one out and put it in your scrapbook. You may never see another like it:

There was the sequel, of course, when Cruz accused Trump of harboring "New York values." Cruz mimicked Trumps contention that "not a lot of evangelicals come out of Cuba." Watch it here:

Read our AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin's take right here. 

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Several days after former Georgia GOP chairman Sue Everhart endorsed the billionaire at the opening of his state headquarters, the Donald Trump campaign acknowledged the support in a press release that also listed the core of his Georgia organization. To wit:

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U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, has picked up a primary opponent. Roger Fitzpatrick, who finished third in a race for the seat in 2012, told Brian Prichard of FetchYourNews.com that he would be qualifying in March.

Of Collins, Fitzpatrick said, “For the most part, he’s done a decent job. But especially here of late, I believe he has left the people of that district down.”

The former elementary school principal drew 17 percent of the vote four years ago, forcing Collins and radio host Martha Zoller into a runoff.

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More on this later, but former Georgia senator Sam Nunn on Thursday unveiled a whole new nightmare to keep you awake at night. From the New York Times:

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In the Friday print version of this newspaper and others in Georgia, you can find a petition signed by hundreds of clergy of all faiths in opposition to “religious liberty” legislation now being considered in the state Capitol. Click here for a larger image than the one you see on the right.

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We have our first announced quasi-candidate for the seat of retiring Rep. Lynn Westmoreland.

Former state Rep. Jeff Brown, a LaGrange Republican, sent word last night he is launching an exploratory committee to help him decide whether to run for the ultra conservative west Georgia district.

He served 12 years in the Georgia House, stepping down in 2006 amid rumors that Westmoreland would seek higher office. His release highlights his conservative record but also his stint on a "racial trust building initiative" in his hometown.

“I am not independently wealthy so I will accept campaign donations BUT I am not for sale as evidenced by how I voted and my responsiveness to all voters regardless of party affiliation or income!” his release says.

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Republican pioneer Mike Egan was laid to rest Thursday in an emotional ceremony in the Georgia House. A few hours earlier, though, a more private mass was held at Christ the King cathedral.

Longtime lobbyist Neill Herring was there, and he reported a bipartisan crowd - among them Rep. David Scott, Sen. Fran Millar and Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver - paid their respects. He captured the eulogy by Egan's son, Mike III, thusly:

His son said that his father had two great pillars in his life, his family and his faith.  He recalled Mike’s great love of people, of sports, and of his work, but above all, and always, of his family and his parish. He mentioned that Mike was the highest ranking Republican in the Carter administration where he was a Deputy Attorney General under Griffin Bell.  He remembered Mike’s first vote after election to the General Assembly in 1965, when he was one of 12 out of 200 to vote to seat Julian Bond, and came home that evening, “feeling low,” saying, “I suppose I’ll never be elected to anything again,” but it was just that kind of principled political behavior got him reelected, time and again.  Mike Egan never lost a race for political office. 

And he offered his own thoughts:

Egan was a great legislator, an observation I can make only sort of objectively, although he was so strongly in favor of environmental protection for the whole state that such a claim by me is discountable.  Mike was able to influence his younger Republican colleagues in the Senate to also be strong conservationists, and that made a huge difference during the Miller administration, when conservation got lip service, but not much more than that.

Mike was more than an outstanding legislator, among elected officials he was a superior human being, towering over a large self-selected group of humans who were just the opposite of that.   Of course he stood out so prominently that even his many among his inferiors were forced to acknowledge his great merit, even as they voted against his positions on issues, and failed to act in accord with his principles.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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