Sen. Lindsey Graham moved this week to stake his claim on South Carolina, his home state and what he's hoping is his ace in the hole in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

The Palmetto State votes third in the 2016 GOP primary, following Iowa and New Hampshire, and dozens of veteran Republican activists with deep roots in party politics there have joined Graham's long shot White House campaign. Graham's group of supporters, numbering 100 and representing all 46 counties, includes David Wilkins, former U.S. ambassador to Canada appointed by President George W. Bush and the former speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives.

A Republican operative based in the state described Graham's booster as "old guard Republicans" who were prominent in the state party in the 1990s. Some "were involved for some of the Bush Administration, but by Mark Sanford's second gubernatorial term had retired from leadership positions. Some were defeated in county party elections with the rise of the Tea Party in 2009-2010."

Sanford, who is now serving in Congress, where he served before being elected governor, won a second gubernatorial term in 2006.

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