Embattled GOP incumbent gives Democrats hope in S.C. governor raceBy Beth Fouhy/CNN
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (September 30) -- Call it Monica redux. But for a governor already locked in a tight race, it was not the kind of press conference David Beasley wanted to have.
"I've never seen anything like this in my life," the Republican Beasley said Monday.
A telegenic hero of the Christian right, Beasley was forced to appear before the cameras, his pregnant wife at his side, to deny an affair with former press aide Ginny Wolfe.
"Ever since my wife and I started dating ... we have been faithful to one another," the first-term governor said.
Wolfe and her husband appeared at the press conference, too.
"David and I have a wonderful, faithful, Christ-centered marriage and I'm thankful for the opportunity to be able to say that," said South Carolina's first lady Mary Wood.
The extraordinary gathering came after TIME magazine published an article, suggesting Beasley was set to be deposed, Clinton-style, about an alleged affair.
Beasley blamed Democratic operatives for fanning the rumors, and called on his opponent, Jim Hodges, to denounce them.
But weeks ago, it was Beasley who took to the air linking his opponent to the nation's most famous philanderer.
"There's a difference between what he says and what he does. Politician Jim Hodges. Remind you of anybody?" a Beasley commercial declared.
The ad prompted an angry statement from Hodges wife, Rachel.
Calling it "disgusting," she challenged Beasley to pull the ad.
"Jim Hodges has been 100 percent faithful to our young boys and me," Mrs. Hodges declared.
The infidelity charge against Beasley is just the latest in a troubled campaign. He also is coping with a conservative base enraged by his unsuccessful effort in 1996 to remove the confederate flag from the dome of the South Carolina state capitol.
"A flag should be a symbol that unites all those standing below it, one that every South Carolinian can look up to with respect and admiration," Beasley said in November 1996.
Another controversy dogging Beasley is his decision to support a referendum on a state lottery. Beasley had long opposed the lottery on evangelical Christian grounds.
"Let the legislature and the people settle that debate," Beasley suggested. "Let's have an election not about the lottery but about whether we'll continue to have a South Carolina we're proud to call home."
With South Carolina schools ranked among the worst in the nation, Hodges is championing a state lottery to pay for improvements, a proposal widely supported by voters.
"Those Georgia lottery tickets y'all buy pay for computers in every one of our classrooms. Thank goodness your governor, David Beasley, won't let y'all have a lottery," a fictitious Georgia lottery salesman mocks in one of Hodges campaign ads.
Beasley's problems have lifted Democratic hopes in a conservative state, giving them the best chance in a decade to win the governors office.
Wednesday, September 30, 1998
Democrats push for alternative 'Watergate' model
$80 billion tax cut unlikely to pass in the Senate
Espy trial starts Thursday
Clinton wins Australia radio poll to be next Prime Minister
Democrats working on 'censure-plus' alternative
Democratic fund-raiser charged in 17-count indictment
Likely voters are more critical of Clinton, poll finds
Jones team files final brief to have lawsuit reinstated
Transcript: President Bill Clinton hails budget surplus
Hillary Clinton: Women on the brink of great leadership roles
First Lady not new to impeachment
Poll: Clinton probe a moral lesson
History of presidential lying
Market jitters having little effect on view of Social Security options
Peek at '74 impeachment resolution
Embattled GOP incumbent gives Democrats hope in S.C. governor race
Alaska Republicans tussle over their gubernatorial nominee
Judge won't require ads on buses
Political races briefs