Politics & Government

Haley rumors dominate S.C. gubernatorial race coverage

Keep your head down and follow the campaign plan.

That's what the four Republicans running for governor said they would do as a blogger's still-unproven allegations of an "inappropriate physical relationship" with a married candidate continue to dominate news coverage.

The blogger, former Gov. Mark Sanford spokesman Will Folks, published text messages on his site Wednesday that he said prove he discussed the story with Lexington Rep. Nikki Haley’s campaign prior to its publication. Folks claimed to have had a physical relationship in 2007 with Haley, who was married at the time.

The texts, which began two weeks ago, also include conversations about which reporters were chasing the story and efforts by the Haley campaign to keep it out of the press. Folks said again Wednesday he eventually plans to publish evidence of an affair, but the story has kept the governor's race in limbo since Monday.

Haley campaign manager Tim Pearson said Wednesday the texts are authentic, but the implication they are proof of a coverup is a product of Folks' "overactive imagination." It is the duty of any campaign manager, he said, to try to keep a false rumor out of the media.

In one of the texts, Pearson suggests Folks' keeping quiet is critical to Haley's winning.

"I'm telling you man, we keep this under wraps and nh (Nikki Haley) is going to win," he wrote.

Haley has gone back to work, attending Wednesday's House session and then heading to a Hilton Head campaign stop. She got a standing ovation from Florence County GOP members at a Tuesday night meeting, and then took a handful of questions from media after. She continues to say she has been faithful in her 13-year marriage.

Pearson said Haley is not going to change a plan that has taken her from back of the pack to front-runner, according to polls.

"She (isn't) going to let this distract her," Pearson said. "It's just not what we're going to do."

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