Almost three hundred people attended the Greenville County Republican Party Bronze Elephant Dinner and debate Saturday evening. It was a fast moving, informative and entertaining evening with two of the nation’s leading conservative statesmen and potential presidential candidates sharing the speakers platform.
Former U. S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania was the guest speaker and hometown patriot Sen. Jim DeMint added to the occasion with his assessment of the political landscape in a time of crisis with both the White House and the Congress out-of-control, creating havoc with the economy and foreign policy daily, while with reckless abandon, racking up unprecedented debt for future generations of Americans.
Both speakers challenged their audience to put forth their maximum effort to elect qualified and dedicated conservative candidates in the June 8 Republican primary and see them through to victory in November. Both DeMint and Santorum have made reference to the need for Divine guidance and intervention as we face the physical and spiritual challenges ahead.
Chairman Patrick Haddon called on Past Greenville County and South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Greg Shorey to recite the Republican Creed that has become an inspiration to those striving to return the Grand Old Party to its foundational conservative roots.
Following the buffet dinner with food and service that exceeded expectations at such an event, in both quality and quantity, people moved next door for the scheduled debate between gubernatorial candidates Congressman Gresham Barrett, Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, Representative Nikki Haley and Attorney General Henry McMaster. The arrangement of candidates, moderators and members of the audience was ideal for the occasion.
Three moderators that included Bob McLain WORD Radio General Manager, Gordon Dill of WYFF TV and Jason Spencer of the Spartanburg Herald Journal were seated on the podium at the end of the narrow room, while the audience was seated facing the center aisle where the four candidates were seated. When responding to questions, candidates stood and moved freely in the isle.
Barrett was first to make an opening statement and was interrupted with applause when he said South Carolina “needs an Arizona-type immigration law.”
Bauer said no candidate wants to discuss the problems the next governor will face. Bauer talked about the lack of funds and the need to cut back on waste and give-away programs. “Until we are ready to engage in a real leader that wants to talk about these problems you will not see substantive change in South Carolina,” he said.
Haley said it is not enough to elect a Republican Governor, House and Senate. “We must elect conservatives” to those offices, she insisted.
“Our President and the President of Mexico standing up and criticizing the state of Arizona for trying to protect their borders is lunacy, and if I am Governor we are going to have the same law and I know how to enforce it,” said Henry McMaster
The first question from Gordon Dill: “If we can’t afford to enforce the existing laws, how are we going to afford to do more?
McMaster said it is a matter of setting priorities.
Haley said the legislature passed a good law but did not provide the funds to enforce it.
Bauer said we have opportunities for illegal aliens and that is why they are coming here and why we have such high unemployment.
Barrett said we do not need new laws or more money, “all we need to do is train our officers on how to do it.”
Jason Spencer asked the first controversial question referring to the situation created by Gov. Mark Sanford: “As Governor, if you are caught in a morally compromising position, would you resign for the good of the party? He called on Lt. Governor André Bauer:
“It depends on who is morally challenging. Is it going to be you?”
Haley was next to answer. “We need to keep the Lord close, our families close, and our friends close and ensure that we are never put in a position to have these problems.
Barrett said he learned about honor, integrity and discipline at the Citadel and that he called Governor Mark Sanford twice and asked him to step down.
“Did you say ‘catch us?” McMaster asked. “Well, you’re not going to catch me doing anything morally improper because I’m not going to do anything morally improper.”
What can you do as governor to eliminate the disconnect between the governor and the RINO’s who inhabit the legislature?
Additional questions included: “Would you be willing to reexamine Act 388?”
At one point later in the discussion, Bauer accused Haley of being absent when her transparency bill was voted on. She responded that she had agreed to speak at the Greenville County Republican Women’s luncheon and when the leadership discovered she was going to be absent, they changed the schedule to embarrass her.
The legal challenge by Barrett and some of his friends to the running of transparency television ads paid for by a third party was discussed emotionally with no resolution.