Some call it good politics. Others call it unfair. However one describes it, one thing is clear, either through money or through campaign committee titles, the Romney for President campaign has went hard after county Republican party leaders in South Carolina.
The Romney campaign has lined up local Republican party officials on their campaign, and as a result, has obtained local party information on activists and county convention delegates with some ease. Other campaigns have complained that the Romney supporters in control of such information have not shared such information with the other campaigns as people in their official local party positions should. Folks from the McCain campaign especially have complained to me in private about such.
If one takes a quick glance at the Romney campaign team, both paid and unpaid, one can find local Republican leaders in key Republican counties. It is no surprise to me this is going on. Many of the key people running the Romney effort in South Carolina were the same people who ran the Bush effort in 2000. Like those people or not, they know how to win in South Carolina, and they are playing political hardball, as they do, from the start of this campaign.
Who knows how all this will play out for the Romney people. Some pundits contend that in high profile statewide races grassroots organization does not matter near as much as media, and they cite the Sanford-Peeler runoff in 2002 as an example.
However, one thing is clear. The Romney folks are playing political hardball at the grassroots in a way far and above the other candidates. But, I contend, that even with such local hardball tactics, the Romney campaign can not win without either Rudy or McCain having some sort of problem in South Carolina. That means that the Romney people will have to attack one or the other.
I say one or the other, because it would not be politically wise for the Romney campaign to attack both Rudy and McCain. That might make them look too negative. But, I would not be surprised if they did just that. The guys running the Romney efforts are old political river boat gamblers, so to speak, and who knows what they might do.
But, one thing is a sure bet, they have done their homework and worked their behinds off at the local level and caused some havoc playing hardball there. The Rudy and McCain folks now have to play catch up at the grassroots.
Of course, Fred Thompson makes all of this a big hoot if he gets in. Then, all bets are off.