Fishbowl Charleston

Filing from the bar of Husk restaurant in the Holy City – this is Fishbowl Charleston. As the state prepares to vote in the GOP primary this Saturday, we trudged through the beautiful weather and fine dining to bring you a report from the front lines.

Our Thursday began with a slow start when the closest thing we could find to a D.C. celebrity was Bob Livingston, disgraced former Speaker-designate of the House, trolling radio row of the Southern Republic Leadership Council at the TD Arena. Once we left, we saw a blurry eyed John Roberts from Fox News entering the arena, presumably for J.C. Watts‘s speech to the Council. Walking back to the hotel, we spotted Perry Bacon, from the Grio in an animated phone conversation outside of iconic Charleston restaurant, Jestine’s Kitchen. Considering we saw a reporter named Bacon outside of a restaurant well known for it’s pork laden dishes, we were quite pleased with ourselves.

After an uneventful afternoon, we decided to spice things up with a Rick Santorum speech. Upon arriving, we saw pundit extraordinaire, Michael Barone. While chatting with him, we ALMOST missed the diminutive Lindsey Graham, on his way to fire up the DOZENS of people who had showed up to see the “Sweater Vest of Truth”, Santorum.

Oh, and Perry Bacon was THERE, too. Before Santorum began his speech, we were treated to the arrival of Herman Cain himself. We were tipped off when we saw THIS guy hanging around outside, cigarette firmly ensconced in his mouth, naturally.

That’s right, Mark Block is BACK. We asked him if he tires of posing with his now famous cigarettes. He says he’s “gotten used to it,” but one person in New York recently asked him to SIGN a cigarette butt. The most interesting part of the Mark Block story is that when we made our way into the arena, he sat down just a few seats away from Josh Kraushaar from National Journal. It wasn’t long ago that Block famously butchered the relationship of Kraushaar to Cain sexual harassment accuser KAREN Kraushaar in the news. Block claimed on Fox News that she was Josh’s mother. (They aren’t related at all.) We asked him about that incident when it happened.

Kraushaar even acknowledged the weirdness on Twitter.


Mark Block a couple rows back in crowd as Herman Cain readying to address audience. Still haven’t heard from him since the Hannity botch.

— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) January 19, 2012

We settled into our seats in the arena, which wasn’t hard. The place was nearly empty. We’ll give a conservative estimate and say there were roughly 150 people there. Easily half were reporters. As we settled in, we noticed a loud rustling behind us and turned to spot 11 members of the Duggar family, from TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, filing in to catch the Santorum address.

Shortly after that, Santorum came to the stage amid a sea of military school cadets who stood behind him as he referred to Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich as “Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum.” Mid-speech, Howdy Doody Griff Jenkins of Fox News came in to catch the address to the GOP faithful.

After Santorum, it was time for Cain! We were told that Cain would make an endorsement, so there was buzz among reporters in the audience. As Cain built up to his endorsement, he warned us that the media wouldn’t likeit, “but the American people are going to LOVE it.” He went on to endorse…. “The people of this nation.” (Cue sad trombone.) The letdown was felt throughout the few attendees that were left.

On our way back to our hotel in historic Charleston, we ran into Politico’s Jonathan Martin, fresh from an MSNBC appearance. We helped him clarify the location of Thursday night’s debate site. Weirdly Mike Allen wasn’t around.

After doing or good deed of the day, we set out to see nightlife in Charleston and passed the Mills House, the hotel that has been hosting MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” this week. While we noticed a faint odor of gas in the air, we assumed it was the hot air escaping Mark Halperin’s head. As we got closer, we noticed that police had shut down roads around the hotel due to a gas leak. We were assured that no one was in any danger as authorities were trying to locate the source of the stench. Halperin was in the clear.

Update: We’ve clarified the above copy to have Livingston as former Speaker-designate. We want to be sure that Politico‘s Jake Sherman knows we’re a real blog that covers media and politics. God knows we wouldn’t sleep if he thought otherwise.