Whatever the motivation, Bauer's endorsement, while hardly a monumental event in McCain's campaign, needs to be handled carefully by the Arizona senator. In conservative, upcountry South Carolina, Bauer is an asset, but the arch-conservative's stamp of approval could do more harm than good once the campaigns leave the South behind. In Michigan, particularly, McCain will want to come across as a true centrist; after all, he'll be courting the Grosse Pointe Republican contingent, who blanch at overtly conservative language on social issues like abortion. As long as McCain loosens his affiliation with Bauer after South Carolina, says Lopez, he shouldn't have any trouble stepping back into the moderate role as he heads West.
In fact, both candidates need to quickly shroud their ultra-conservative overtures once they leave the Palmetto State. Bush, in particular, has made earnest overtures to the far right while in South Carolina, says Lopez, and these efforts to secure a victory there could cost him dearly later. "Bush went to the head of the class with his visit to Bob Jones University," says Lopez. The university embraces staunchly right-wing (some would say racist) rhetoric, which Bush didn't address on his trip to the school. That sort of miscue won't play well in California or New York and Bush has been backtracking since his Bob Jones appearance, claiming the visit was meant to emphasize his "compassionate" side. We'll see if voters agree it's clear that Gary Bauer doesn't.