Rusty DePass, who’s supporting Santorum, says it’s all over for Obama

On Monday, I started getting serious about interviewing SC Republicans, both those who have committed to candidates and one or two who are staying on the sidelines.

I arranged to meet fellow Rotarian Rusty Depass before our weekly meeting. Rusty is supporting Rick Santorum, and made sure to tell me that he’s backed him from the start — no post-Iowa bandwagon-joiner is our Rusty.

It’s very much like Rusty not to support Mitt Romney, whom he calls “the successor to Ford, Dole and McCain” — all relative centrists who led the party to defeat in the fall.

And Rusty isn’t looking for a defeat this year. In fact, he surprised me when he explained why he is unmoved by Republicans who say they back Romney because he can beat President Obama in the fall.

“We’re not trying to beat Obama,” he said, which grabbed my attention. “He’s beat. We’re picking a president.”

Really, I said? Other Republicans have sounded far less certain. Some — not for attribution, of course — just come out and say that they’re resigned to a second Obama term, as much as it displeases them. I got the strong impression that some of the people who did not run this year — Mike Huckabee in particular — stayed out for that very reason. In fact, Huckabee was saying it as early as the start of 2010. And I think he was right, to the extent that anything like that can be predicted so far out.

But Rusty definitely doesn’t think so. And he wants “a real conservative,” rather than “some milquetoast moderate leading us to defeat again.”

But why Santorum?  It’s not like Rusty is always drawn to cultural conservatives. I can understand why my friend Hal Stevenson — who dropped by our table while Rusty and I were speaking (to tell me what he thought of “Tinker, Tailor”) — is supporting Santorum. But Rusty supported Rudy Giuliani last time. (And we all remember what Alec Sanders said about him: “He supports gay rights. He supports banning all handguns. He supports abortion. His wife kicked him out, and he moved in with two gay men and a Shih Tzu. Is that South Carolina values? I don’t think so.”)

Well, we know why he’s not for Romney — aside from the wishy-washiness, Rusty wants “a real person… I don’t begrudge Romney his money, but he’s hard to relate to.” And he maintains that the others have become such “luminaries” that they’re “hard to talk to.”

There are things he likes about the others. “Newt Gingrich has more bright ideas before breakfast than most people do in a lifetime.”

“I would like to see a debate between Gingrich and Obama, and see him just demolish him.” But “when the debate’s over, people don’t like him.”

And Santorum is likable. Rusty DePass thinks so, anyway.

For more on the subject, go read Rusty’s letter to the editor from last week. Here’s how it begins:

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania is not only well-informed and articulate, but he is a likeable, dedicated, committed, unapologetic conservative. The one election he lost, which seems to be the only gig against him, was because he refused to budge from his conservative principles, and in a heavily Roman Catholic state, he got beat by the last pro-life Democrat in America. All of which brings us to the practical political considerations of nominating a candidate for president. What do they bring to the table? Except for Santorum, the answer would appear to be nothing.

Rusty’s not a guy to mince words. As he sums up, “We have a country to save, and Rick Santorum is the right man to do it.”

Read more here:

48 thoughts on “Rusty DePass, who’s supporting Santorum, says it’s all over for Obama

  1. Mark Stewart

    This would have been a good Presidential election cycle for Rusty to sit out, of his own volition.

  2. Mab

    Brad says, “

    No, but thank you kindly for the invitation.

    What’s with the +commitment+ buzz word among these posers? They sound like a gang to me.

    Lizard Gingrich said “I’m committed” 4 times today in his Fox News response to the Club for Growth’s “Call to Civility.”

    The Lizard also said that 2 or 3 or 4 times before in failed matrimonial rites, you know.

  3. bud

    Rusty is either posturing or needs to retire. There is just no logical backing for stating “It’s all over for Obama”. There are many in partisan land who dismiss polls with the canard, “the only poll that matters is the one on election day”. That’s what we call a truism, meaning it’s a factual statement but has not meaning. Rusty is well schooled in that particular truism. But in the real world polls do matter. And that means Obama is the favorite right now. And only Romney is within striking distance.

  4. tired old man

    You have to respect Rusty for blazing a Republican trail in modern SC, but I agree with Mark Stewart that this might be a time for him to sit one out.

    Rick Santorum is too kooky for anyone other than the far-right spectrum. The idea of his finger twitching the nuclear trigger is almost as scary as the thought of his social policies being imposed upon America. Santorum’s voter pool cannot move to the middle — and that’s where Obama will draw his winning votes.

    Meanwhile, Romney continues to exhibit all the characteristics of an anchored boat. It rises and falls with the tide, but never really moves beyond that boundary.

    His Bain capitalistic record is now frightfully regarded as the potential bane of capitalism. A guy who straps his dog on the roof of his car and then drives 500 miles is not my type of guy.

    But, Rusty’s feelings aside, I would pick Romney over Santorum, Huntsman over Perry. And Newt is the grinch who is bespoiling the GOP primary.

    I look forward to Obama winning 3-2 in November.

    Sadly, the GOP travails in finding a candidate will be repeated by both parties in 2016. We do not seem to allow leadership to grow in the shadow of our current political parties — both of which are actually politically bankrupt as they have receded from the middle ground.

  5. Steven Davis

    @bud – could have been worse, he could have associated him with the Neo-Nazis or KKK. But that’s reserved for only the classiest of blog posters here.

  6. `Kathryn Fenner

    @ Steven Davis–You do realize that Rusty Depass famously, and at great personal cost,compared the First Lady to a gorilla, more or less?

    Now that’s classy!

  7. Karen McLeod

    With that remark he demonstrated A) that he’s no gentleman, and B) that he’s ignorant of basic evolutionary theory.

  8. Brad

    And I seem to recall SOMEBODY participating in this discussion trying to get me to stick up for him on the blog at that time, and tell everyone what a good guy he is.

    Which he is. But at the time, I tried talking with him about it, and he said he’d talk to me as a friend, but not as a blogger. And since I couldn’t ask him some key questions and get answers, I left the subject alone.

  9. Brad

    Oh, and technically, he compared her ANCESTORS to a gorilla.

    I assumed that it was a very dumb joke about evolution, and he typed it, and posted it, and then immediately thought “Oh my God, she’s black!” and took it down.

    Unfortunately for Rusty, Will Folks had obtained a screenshot BEFORE he took it down (I am remembering correctly, right?) and from then on, people who had never heard of Rusty thought of him as the guy who said Michelle was related to a gorilla.

    Rusty immediately went on an apology tour, for instance appearing alone before the local NAACP, to abjectly say he was sorry.

    But I never did get him to explain how it happened, or what he was thinking. Since asking him that once, I didn’t ask again. I’ve heard him refer to it often enough to know how painful the subject is to him. My understanding is that he suffered considerable financial pain along with the personal mortification.

    But I still don’t know what possessed him to say it; I can only guess.

  10. Brad

    And then a few days later, Sanford returned from Argentina, and everybody forgot about Rusty.

    And then Jacko died, and everybody forgot about Sanford.

    But then Sanford did his “soulmate” interview, and everybody started talking about Sanford again.

    Weird month, was June 2009.

  11. Tim

    Did he ever get beyond the “I am sorry if anyone’s feelings were hurt” no-pology offered in the WIS-TV story? As for the “Technically” part, where here on your blog did anyone say anything other that what the guy posted? The real words, the ones you can read? Really, that’s a salve? “Technically” he was referring to her ancestors makes it a little better? Quite the equivocation. You know, if he embraces evolution (which Santorum is a denialist about, and ardent apologist for ID/Creationist nonsense to be force-fed by a Santorum administration), then heck we are all related to some distant Gorilla-like creature. But, no, my guess is that that his quote meant exactly what he thought it to mean. I am sorry if this hurts his feelings, though. But has anyone asked a gorilla what it feels about being related to Mr. DePass?

  12. Mab

    “what possessed him to say it” was rather a who IMO: Fred Sanford.

    Who above age 40 doesn’t remember his litany of jokes about making gorilla cookies with a mold of Aunt Esther’s face?


    White people cannot make these jokes without consequences.

  13. KP

    Really, Brad? You seriously think Rusty made that joke from a colorblind mindset and was shocked when he realized its implications? You think the comparison would have occurred to him at all if he’d been talking about a WHITE first lady?

  14. `Kathryn Fenner

    Right–Michelle Obama’s living ancestors (they escaped from the zoo, so they are current) are gorillas, is not the same as calling her one?

    Sure I defended Rusty against charges he’s a racist (or any more so than most white people are)–but hardly a “classy” remark, no?

  15. Brad

    Yes, KP, I seriously mean that. I find it inconceivable that he had race in mind when he said that stupid thing. That just doesn’t seem possible.

    It would have been a bad, stupid, unfunny joke if he had been speaking of, I don’t know, Hillary Clinton. THAT is something Rusty is capable of. Back when he used to do Health and Happiness, the whole club sat on the edge of their seats, ready to cringe.

    But that he would deliberately have said it with racial intent is inconceivable.

  16. Rose

    That. Is. A. Racist. Joke. And. He. Knew. It.
    I’m not sure what alternate universe you’re living in, Brad, but there is no way in this universe that a white Southerner, especially a South Carolinian, with our racial history, would immediately recognize that as a racist joke.
    He may be a nice person in many ways and still be racist. I have relatives who are very nice people but who are also racist and who thought that was a great joke.

  17. Brad


    And Rose, what in the world makes you so certain what’s in another person’s mind? I’m often unsure of MY motivations in saying something, much less anyone else.

  18. Steve Gordy

    “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.” I would have no reason to suspect Mr. DePass of racism had he kept his mouth shut.

  19. bud

    Sorry Brad, I’m with Rose on this one. We only have what Mr. DePass said to go on. If you can point to something that would lead to a different conclusion put it out there but simply saying you know DePass and conclude he’s no racist is insufficient. He clearly came across as a racist with his gorilla joke. Not sure how you can really spin it any other way.

  20. `Kathryn Fenner

    Actually, given his politics, which are anathema to me, I might well have thought him a racist even if he had said nothing. As I said, he is no more a racist than other whites are.That’s not the same thing as not racist. We all see skin color, and cannot help making snap judgments based on our experience and stereotypes. Most of us, I think, move beyond that to find out who the actual person is, and I believe Rusty does that.

  21. T.J.

    I have met Rusty and do think he is a decent guy.

    With that being said, his joke was racist. Period.

    Part of categorizing speech as political, joking, hateful, racist, fighting words, etc. is the effect of the words on the listener. Everyone who read Rusty’s post cringed because everyone knew the comment was at worst racist, and at best racially tinged.

    Does that comment make Rusty a racist? Alone, probably not. Does Rusty’s comment bring shame on himself, his family, his friends, the Republican party, and the state of South Carolina- Yes.

  22. Steven Davis

    Unbelievable, DePass made a politically incorrect statement, apologized and moved on. Why are you guys even bringing it back up and arguing something that has gone full circle? I swear this place is like a room full of church ladies sometimes… no offense to church ladies.

  23. Brad

    For once, I’m sort of with Steven.

    I wish we could have talked about Santorum and the election.

    Got to say, I’m baffled that so many of you think someone can be a decent guy, yet a racist. Or tell deliberately racist jokes, which is much the same thing. But I guess, if all white guys are racists — as Kathryn suggests — then it’s inescapable. (Sorry, Bud — that means you.)

    You know, I need to talk to Rusty sometime about his history as a Republican. I suspect it goes way, way back. He sort of reminds me of some older Republicans I knew back in Tennessee in the 70s and 80s. People who had been Republicans since the days when it was a way of declaring yourself a reformer who didn’t want to have anything to do with the Democratic machines of the day.

    Rusty is a little young for that crowd, but he gives off a similar vibe — very different from the Republicans you meet these days, and right away you’re pretty sure their granddaddies were Dixiecrats.

  24. Mark Stewart

    And yet, as an old-school progressive Republican he backs Santorum of all people? Someone’s mixing metaphors I think.

    I commented on Rusty DePass’ past as it relates to today’s politics because you quoted him as saying it’s all over for Obama. Whatever his political bent, his Facebook posting made very clear that he was more than ready to get back to the way things should be.

  25. bud

    Let’s talk about Santorum then. He made a pretty racist comment in Iowa a few days back suggesting blacks shouldn’t be given government handouts (or something to that effect). Seems like he and DePass have something in common, foot in mouth disease. But I didn’t find that comment terribly offensive. It probably was just a bit of a lapse during a long campaign. What really bothered me was how he kept trying to spin the comment and eventually settling on the ridiculous claim that instead of black he said blah. Saying essentially that blah people shouldn’t be given government handouts. Seriously, just admit it was an inappropriate statement and say he believes nobody should be given government handouts regardless of skin color.

  26. bud

    Incidently, some of the new polls suggest Gingrich has narrowed Romney’s lead in SC. That video showing just what an elitist plutocrat Romney is is apparently having an effect.

  27. Doug Ross

    “if all white guys are racists — as Kathryn suggests — then it’s inescapable”

    They are if they want immigration laws enforced. Right?

  28. Steven Davis

    I wonder how many saints here have never told or laughed at an off-color, ethnic, alternative lifestyle joke in their life? It’s natural once the stick is removed. They need to watch a roast episode on Comedy Central and learn to take life a little more less seriously.

  29. Tim

    Brad, you must have missed where I mentioned Santorum, the guy who wants to require the teaching of creationism in science class, the one Mr. DePass is so enamored of, and which was the reason you posted it. An ardent creationist supports an ardent creationist for President, and the supporter created a mire of his own involving evolution, black stereotypes and the political opponent of the person he is supporting. Where is this off track? Really? Especially when his editorial blows the same tired nasty dog whistle birther stuff. Did you read that? In the editorial you linked to? Its kind of vague, could be birther, could be the Obama is a closet gay (and we know how R.S. feels about that, no question). You know, nice, serious policy wonky stuff like that. But this guy is worthy of a mention in your blog as a serious cause for chin-rubbing thoughtful contemplation of Santorum.

    I don’t mind given the guy his clean slate. He did apologize. Fair enough. That doesn’t mean you forget, particularly when he is a prominent figure, and it has a bearing on who he supports and why.

  30. Steven Davis

    @Brad – Sure, just make sure they aren’t thin skinned first. Some people take everything as a personal attack, they’re usually the ones who die of a stroke at an early age.

  31. Steven Davis

    It’s one of those, if I don’t know you why do I care what you say if it’s not true and everyone knows it?

  32. `Kathryn Fenner

    Wow, Steven. I’d have to diagram that last comment to parse it.

    If everybody loves my baby, but my baby don’t love nobody but me, I am my baby.

  33. Tim

    RD was chairman of the Richland County GOP. He was greatly responsible for electing the first GOP guv in South Carolina since Reconstruction. So. Yeah. He is prominent, but appreciate you asking. Glad I could clarify for you.

  34. Steven Davis

    “If everybody loves my baby, but my baby don’t love nobody but me, I am my baby.”

    Everybody loves my baby.
    “don’t love nobody”, double-negative so my baby loves everybody but me.
    To this point, Everybody loves my baby, and my baby loves everybody but me.

    How are you your baby? And why don’t you love yourself?

    I took Philosophy 101, found it to be the most worthless class I ever sat through.

  35. `Kathryn Fenner

    The assumption is that what is meant is

    1. All people love my baby.
    2. My baby only loves me.

    3. My baby loves my baby.

    4. I am my baby.


    I passed the multistate bar exam 20 years after finishing law school (the second time I passed it)largely on the strength of my formal logic skills.

    It’s amazing how much you can figure out by just paying attention to the call of the question.

    Politics is like that a lot of the time.

  36. Doug Ross


    You aren’t doing lawyers any favors by presenting that as “logic”, QED or otherwise.

    That’s apparently the same “logic” Henry McMaster used to claim that everyone is related to everyone else in order to skirt the housing laws.

  37. Steven Davis

    “but my baby don’t love nobody but me”

    “2. My baby only loves me”

    Even I, as a non-English major, knows that a double negative “don’t” and “nobody” cancel themselves out. What that line says is “but my baby loves everybody but me”.

    So why do you hate yourself?

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