(7 p.m., North Charleston Coliseum)
They call it the spin room. In an hour, when CNN’s Southern Republican Presidential Debate begins, the high-ceilinged conference room at the North Charleston Coliseum will be packed with hundreds of political reporters, their eyes glued to laptops and projector screens as campaign lackeys shower them with press releases and endlessly re-interpret what is being said in the arena.
Down in front sit the two youngest reporters in the room, twin siblings Faith and Zach Dalzell of Daniel Island. They are 12 years old, and they work for the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.
As everyone else checks their Twitter feeds and trades gossip from the campaign trail, Faith and Zach calmly sip from Starbucks coffee cups and greet the curious onlookers with “sirs” and “ma’ams.” Faith is reading Dark Angels, a historical romance by Karleen Koen set in 17th-century England, while she waits for the debate to begin. Zach has his notepad open and ready.
“We asked Santorum about Iran’s nuclear program and his feelings, but he was in a hurry, so he just said, ‘We’ve got to stop them,'” Zach says. “That’s word for word.” The two have also asked the former Pennsylvania senator about his ideas on school vouchers and his massive campaign spending in South Carolina.
To join the Corps, the twins wrote essays about their hometown. Now, they have a few news clips under their belt, including one about First Lady Michelle Obama’s visit to the Upstate to discuss healthy foods. After tonight, they will each write about their experience in the belly of the political beast.
Any predictions about the outcome of the South Carolina primary?
“No clue,” says Faith. “It could be anyone now that Perry dropped out.”