There were ripples of debate prep over the weekend. CNN had sent political reporters days early to use the Citadel as a backdrop for their reports advancing Monday’s Democratic debate. Rep. Dennis Kucinich was in town Saturday and Gov. Bill Richardson showed up on Sunday to campaign.

But come Monday you couldn’t swing a dead cat on the Peninsula without hitting a politician, celebrity newshound, or both. And when you didn’t hit them, you’d likely clock some interest group lobbying for health care, education, or the arts.

South Carolina is one of the early primary states often touted for picking the presidential candidates weeks before the party faithful in other states get to the polls. But there was strikingly little campaigning by the Democratic presidential hopefuls in the hours surrounding the event. More specifically, Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama skipped out on campaigning except for visits to debate after-parties with supporters.

But those candidates in desperate need of support sought it out in the Lowcountry. At a private home on Sunday, Richardson left no hand unshaken as he worked the room, even tapping one woman on the shoulder as she was walking away and asking, “Have I said ‘Hi’ to you?”

Other campaign stops included Sen. Joe Biden’s press conference with local manufacturers of armored military vehicles, former Sen. Mike Gravel’s appearance at a fair tax rally, and former Sen. John Edwards’ visit with voters at Kitty’s Diner on Tuesday morning. None of the events were for fund-raising, though that’s not to say they turned away a check or two. It was more about getting their faces and their message out there as they hunt for the votes that can sometimes be just as elusive as the dollars.

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