That AP piece (written by Liz Sidoti, their chief national reporter covering the ‘08 GOP field) KLo linked to on McCain’s efforts in SC is strong and fairly comprehensive. The last quote in the story, by the Baptist preacher, gets to something I wrote about in a piece for NRO back in September:
Without Campbell, there is no unified political operation ready to get behind a favored Republican. John McCain can’t be taken out if there is a) no George W. Bush to do the taking out and b) no ready apparatus to crush the insurgency. Whether there will be one of the former – a consensus establishment candidate with backing from both the country club donor wing and evangelical activist wing of the party — is an open question. But nothing resembling the latter exists today within the South Carolina Republican party, say observers there.
Now “a)” increasingly appears to be Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Nobody else, besides McCain, is right now working the money guys and grassroots down there like Team Mitt. But, as evidenced by the presence of at least two deep-pocketed South Carolinians in attendance tonight at former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s kick-off shindig and the lingering unease in social conservative ranks about their options, McCain still benefits from there being no singular Bush figure in the race.