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HAYWORTH: Former Journal editor leading South Carolina political coverage (copy)

HAYWORTH: Former Journal editor leading South Carolina political coverage (copy)


A day after the Tuesday New Hampshire primary results jumbled the 2016 presidential race, the remaining Republican candidates in an onslaught hit South Carolina venues. The Post and Courier crew of seven reporters under the direction of Executive Editor Mitch Pugh was ready, and they fanned hundreds of miles throughout the state to cover all 14 events in South Carolina on Wednesday.

I got exhausted just reading the preview summary, and during the day the reporters tweeted and produced live stories and video.

"Everybody in South Carolina certainly was paying attention and everybody across the country was paying attention. We just felt like we wanted to make sure we really got a feel for what was happening on the ground, what the candidates were saying, and how New Hampshire was going to shape the race here in South Carolina," Pugh said.

Those events by the Republicans included small retail campaign stops and a rally by South Carolina polling leader Donald Trump that drew 4,000.

Pugh was Editor of the Sioux City Journal from September 2007 to February 2013. While here, he directed this political reporter and other Journal reporters through coverage of presidential candidates ahead of the 2008 and 2012 Iowa caucuses. Now, Pugh is in the eye of the national political storm, as South Carolina is the third state in the presidential nominee selection process, with Republicans voting on Feb. 20 and Democrats on Feb. 27.

Pugh dismissed the observation that he is a political junkie, after leading comprehensive political coverage in Iowa and South Carolina. He called himself "politically agnostic," while saying newspapers have a key role in covering the fascinating process of how a president gets elected.

"In the same way that people talk about sports being a kind of microcosm of life in general, I think the same thing is true of politics. You really get a sense of what people care about, and their base fears and hopes. It is really interesting to watch that process evolve," Pugh said.

Pugh said there are "cynical" approaches to campaigning, and noted the differences in how politics are carried out in Iowa and South Carolina.

"Iowa is a little more polite, I think New Hampshire even to a degree is little more laid back. South Carolina is just pretty nasty ... It has a reputation for being a rough-and-tumble place politically, and in my three years here I'd say that is pretty accurate," he said.

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