Atwater, Harvey LeRoy | South Carolina Public Radio


"A" is for Atwater, Harvey Leroy [1951-1991]. Political adviser. Born in Atlanta, Atwater was raised in Columbia. He did his undergraduate work at Newbury College and received his MA in mass communications from the University of South Carolina. He spent much of his early career managing campaigns for prominent South Carolinians Carol Campbell, Floyd Spence, and Strom Thurmond. 

In these elections, he gained a reputation as a shrewd, yet negative, campaigner, willing to use almost any tactic to get his candidate elected. In 1980, Atwater helped manage Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign in South Carolina and was rewarded with a political appointment in the White House. In 1988, he was a chief political strategist for George Bush's successful presidential campaign. After the election, Atwater became chairman of the Republican National Committee. In 1990, Harvey Leroy Atwater developed inoperable brain cancer, forcing him to resign his chairmanship.