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GOP field feeds South Carolina's anti-federal mood

By Thomas Beaumont

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Jan. 20 2012 11:20 a.m. MST

The GOP candidates commonly re-interpret that argument as punishment for choosing a weak union state. They still bring up the issue even though it was resolved last month when Boeing and the Machinists union reached a contract extension and the labor board dropped its legal action. With South Carolina's unemployment approaching 10 percent, the candidates have stoked fears that the NLRB's actions are prompting companies to look overseas instead of at right-to-work states when they want to open new plants or expand operations.

Another issue is a federal judge's decision last month blocking several provisions of the state's new immigration law from taking effect this month. It includes the requirement that police check the immigration status of people pulled over for speeding if officers also suspect they are in the country illegally.

Candidates often assail the U.S. Justice Department's move as they work to convince a conservative Republican electorate that they're tough on border security.

The Justice Department also blocked the state's new voter ID law from going into effect.

Haley also has fueled sentiment against the federal government. She has described the decision to block the voter ID law as part of "the continued war on South Carolina" and has vowed to fight the federal government in court over the issue.

Her state is among at least a half-dozen that passed similar laws last year.

A tea party favorite, Haley also has said that dealing with federal regulations is the chief burden and top frustration of her job as governor.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said his department is committed to fighting laws that create barriers to voting. He reinforced the point on Monday, the federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr., as he stood on the north steps of the Capitol in Columbia.

"Let me be very, very clear — the arc of American history has bent toward the inclusion, not the exclusion, of more of our fellow citizens in the electoral process," Holder said. "We must ensure that this continues."

But the arc in South Carolina plays out in a state whose Statehouse is packed with reminders of glorified federal fights: secession chiseled in marble; its heroes of civil war and segregation glaring from statues and paintings throughout.

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Associated Press writer Jim Davenport contributed to this report.

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