COLUMBIA, S.C. – When the political whirlwind dies down after South Carolina's Democratic presidential primary on Feb. 3, the state chapter of the NAACP (search) has a message for visitors: "Don't come back."
The civil rights group continues to push its economic boycott of the state and wants all tourists and businesses to stay away until the Confederate flag (search) is removed from Statehouse grounds.
But the field of White House hopefuls have been given a temporary reprieve from the sanctions as they bring an entourage of campaign staff and media and spend thousands of dollars on advertisements, travel and food leading up to the state's first-in-the-South primary.
"A presidential candidate is trying to win a national office, and we understand they are going to be coming into South Carolina," state chapter president James Gallman said. "They have made it known they are not in defiance of the sanctions. They have made it known that they believe strongly that the Confederate flag should not be placed in its current location."
A spokeswoman for Dick Gephardt (search) said the Missouri congressman agrees with the goals and principles of the boycott but chooses to stay in hotels to support the workers of the state.
The Rev. Joe Darby, vice president of the state NAACP chapter, said he understands it's logistically impossible at times for campaigns to stay with supporters. "Some of them may not have a friend in South Carolina," he said.
But when their campaigns are over in South Carolina, he won't hang out the welcome sign. "Don't come back down for pleasure," Darby said.