It doesn’t get more surreal than this. The number four man in Washington DC – the man who holds the balance of power in the U.S. Senate – is a 98 year old South Carolinian with red-orange hair transplants.
Outside South Carolina — Strom Thurmond is often seen as a doddering Southern gentleman who seems more suited to a wax museum than the U.S. Senate. But to many South Carolinians – he’s larger than life — respected as a patriot, celebrated as a rascal, and adored as a senator who never said no to a constituent. To others, he is a race-baiting segregationist, who’s support for civil rights came late and was born of political expediency. Today Strom’s health is failing fast and he can’t make it onto the Senate floor without aides on each elbow.
If he should leave the Senate before completing his term, the Democratic governor of South Carolina gets to pick successor and now 50-50 Senate will go to the Dems. While Washington watches and waits, we look back at his life and legacy — remembering Strom the Dixiecrat and the tomcat, the king maker and the skirt chaser.
(Hosted by Judy Swallow)
Lee Bandy, political reporter with the State newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina;
Jack Bass, co-author of “Ol’ Strom,” an unauthorized biography of Strom Thurmond.