Though Michele Bachmann is polling in single digits and in need of a momentum boost, her recently-appointed South Carolina chairman Lee Bright said he still believes the Minnesota congresswoman has an opportunity in the Palmetto State.
Bright, a state senator from Spartanburg County, spoke with Patch this week, and answered perhaps the most-obvious questions regarding a candidate whose odds at winning the Republican nomination seem to be getting increasingly worse:
Why Bachmann, and why now, so close to the South Carolina primary?
"I felt like she was the person most aligned with me and my political views," Bright said. "I was a fan of hers early on, but serving in the legislature, I had honestly not yet met her and spoken with her. When I met her, I was inspired, and I felt she was the person for the job.
"I still think it's wide open. There are a lot of undecided voters, and a lot of the decided voters I talk to are open to changing their minds based on the issues."
Bright said when he met with Bachmann, his strong views on state sovereignty — namely a widely-publicized bill encouraging he study of South Carolina's development of its own currency, as well as a — were never discussed.
"I didn't discuss it with her," Bright said. "We just discussed core beliefs, and we were in agreement. I think she of all people knows that the media blows things out of proportion."
Bright said the flap earlier this year over submitting a bill to explore coining South Carolina money was used to vilify him.
"The currency issue — a lot of folks in the media take something on, and blow out of proportion, when this was just to form a study committee," Bright said. "If I have constituents that want to study something — as long as we're not going to spend taxpayer money to do it, I'm not going to stop it.
"Anyone who looks at my history with the local CBS affiliate knows they've tried to portray me in a bad light at every turn."
Still, Bright would not distance himself entirely from the concept of having state currency.
"I think honestly if the Fed collapsed and the dollar collapsed, there's got to be some way to trade," he said. "Do I think it is something we could enact tomorrow? No. It's not something we've studied. But I think studying it is prudent. Only in today's politically correct society is prudence considered radical."
Bright also believes that the shots he took in the media when he made a tongue-in-cheek remark about secession are indicative of a clear liberal bias in the media.
Bright was candid in his disdain for much of the national media, accusing them of espousing a progressive agenda while unfairly targeting conservatives for negative publicity, going further to talk specifically about NBC parent General Electric's circumventing their duty to pay corporate taxes.
"If anyone is as much to blame as Barack Obama for the shape this country, it's the media," Bright said.
It wasn't long before Bright turned some of his criticism toward new frontrunner Newt Gingrich, whose views at times have been too similar to Obama's for the comfort of some South Carolinians, he speculated.
"We've got to get the message out, a message that South Carolinians can identify with," Bright said. "What we've seen is a major shift in frontrunners, and it doesn't last long. I don't believe the others will get any closer to Romney than they already are right now, and I think Cain has probably his day in the sun.
"Now it's Newt's turn, and I think Newt is surging where Perry was surging before."
Gingrich hasn't distanced himself enough from Obama's policies enough, in Bright's view, which he hopes will draw voters to Bachmann, who is seen as further to the right than most of the field.
"You've got Newt Gingrich in a commercial with Nancy Pelosi, sitting on a bench touting solutions for global warming, and green energy," Bright said.
"The individual mandate on health care is obviously another one. It's the fundamental issue with health care, and Gingrich was for that. And during the mortgage crisis, Freddie and Fannie were at the helm, and he's received income from them. That won't play well."
The question very well might be if it is too late for Bachmann to regain the momentum she's long since lost.
Bright believes that when the nation's attention arrives at South Carolina's primary, Bachmann's unyielding stance on issues that matter to the state's voters could fuel a comeback.
"I think when you come to South Carolina, that's when the spotlight will come out. My gut is that South Carolinians want a conservative president," Bright said. "I think Michele Bachmann is that person."