An outpouring of Democrats and Democratic supporters jammed the historic Galivants Ferry Stump Monday, Sept. 16, to hear four presidential candidates state their cases for winning their support in the February 29, 2020 primary election.
It was the first time in the 143-year tradition of the Stump that speakers included candidates for President of the United States. Addressing the crowd were Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Warming up the crowd – already sweltering under the hot South Carolina sun – were HCDP Chair Don Kohn, South Carolina Democratic Chair Trav Robertson, and Jaime Harrison, who is seeking his party’s nomination to run against incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham.
Robertson blasted the Trump administration and the Republican Party and rallied Democrats to help turn South Carolina Blue.
“The Democratic party is on a revival in this state and we’re not going to stop,” he declared. “You have a Republican party that says they believe in faith, and freedom, and democracy but at every opportunity they shut the door on democracy. They’re so scared that Donald Trump might have a challenge that they refuse to have a primary in South Carolina.”
Kohn urged Stump attendees to get active, register to vote and register friends and neighbors. “We all need to get out there and work,” said Kohn as he invited attendees to visit the HCDP’s office in Conway and join in the fight.
“This is an election where no one can stand on the sidelines and expect others to solve the problem. Quoting President Obama, Kohn declared, “If we want change, we have to make it happen.”
Speaking of the Trump administration and his would-be opponent, Graham, Harrison said it’s time for “those good Democrats who’ve been hiding in the closet, who don’t want to go and tell their neighbors I’m a Democrat,” to speak up. “For far too long we have been silent in the face of bigotry. But enough is enough.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden, after a standing ovation upon his introduction, focused heavily on racism. “In clear language and in code, this president has fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation, and our children are listening,” he said.
“With all the progress we’ve made, we have to acknowledge that there can be no realization of the American dream without grappling, continuing to grapple with, the original sin of slavery brought to these shores over 400 years ago,” Biden declared.
Decrying the long history of white supremacy, Biden said, “Lynch mobs, arsonists, bomb makers, lone gunman – we all realize that violence…violence does not live in the past. If you give it oxygen, it comes back.”
The result, he said, are the terrorists attacks, such as at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston on June 27, 2015, when Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white supremacist murdered nine African Americans during a prayer service.
Noting that the El Paso, TX Walmart shooter who killed 22 people and injured 24 others had said he wanted to stop the Mexican invasion of Texas, Biden declared; “You know, a president’s words matter. They matter. They can move markets. They can send our brave men and women to war. They can bring peace. They can appeal to the better ends of our nature. But they can also unleash the deepest, darkest forces in this nation.”
He called for restoring economic fairness to “the backbone of America, the middle class,” declaring that “Wall Street did not build this country, working class people built this country.” He added, “We’ve got to bring everybody back – black, white, everybody.”
Biden also called for a public option to be added to the Affordable Care Act. “Everyone in America has a right to health care in this country,” he said. “It is not a privilege.”
“We stand for hope over fear,” declared Biden, for “unity over divisions…for truth over lies…for science over fiction.”
Mayor Pete Buttigieg, outlining many of the transgressions of the Trump administration, declared, “We’ve got to summon the courage to change the trajectory of this country,” which is why he said he is running for president.
“I believe our country is running out of time,” he said. “The American people are divided , discouraged and doubtful at the very moment that we need to be rising to meet some of the toughest challenges we’ve ever known and every day we’ve got a president tweeting out a new outrage to distract us from the fact that he’s not capable of doing the job.”
Buttigieg warned that “within a decade, we are going to reach the point of no return on our climate, and yet the president thinks he can change the weather by taking out a Sharpie and rewriting the maps.”
He pointed out that there have been people in his life who have been saved by the Affordable Care Act, and those who have been killed by the opioid crisis. And, he added, “My marriage exists by the grace of a single vote on the Supreme Court.”
“In a few short months, you have a chance to change all that. You have a chance to be part of the American majority who comes together.”
Now is the time, he said, for new ideas from a new generation, and Buttigieg, an Afghanistan War veteran, drew loud applause and laughter when he said that when Donald Trump was preparing for a new season of The Apprentice, he was in South Carolina training for deployment in Afghanistan. Then, he said, “I’ve faced worse incoming than a tweet full of typos.”
On health care, Buttigieg also said he supports adding a public option to the ACA, predicting that it would be so popular that Americans would choose it on their own without it being shoved down their throats.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar was the first Democratic presidential candidate to speak at the Stump. “We have a president who leads this country like it’s a game show,” she declared. She called for action on climate change, stronger background checks on purchasers of firearms and a public option added to the Affordable Care Act.
She decried the “dark money” that influences elections, voter oppression, and said Trump “has allowed a foreign country to make mincemeat of our country.”
Klobuchar said she was determined to help “send Mitch McConnell packing,” and that she wants to be president for “all the country,” not just “half the country.”
She also said she could bring along moderate voters and disenchanted Republicans, and that she understands the issues affecting the rural economy.
“Trump is treating our farmers like they are poker chips in one of his bankrupt casinos,” she said.
Addressing climate change, Klobuchar said when she is president, she will sign the U.S. back into the Paris Climate Accord, from which Trump has withdrawn.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that many people have come to the conclusion that “the federal government is by and for the wealthy.” That, he declared, cannot continue. “There is plenty ion money in this country,” said Mayor de Blasio, “It’s just in the wrong hands.”
He asked the audience how many had to stop everything to be there for a loved one, no matter how tough. Hands throughout the audience were raised. What about experiencing a time when there wasn’t enough money to pay all the bills? Once again, scores of hands were raised. He asked people who feel things are more stressful than they used to be to raise their hands. Many did. What about worry about jobs availability, now and the future? More hands went up.
Mayor de Blasio cautioned that automation is “coming at us hard and fast,” and that tens of millions of jobs will be lost in the next two decades. “We’ve got to make sure we’re ready, and the federal government is not doing anything,” he said.
Afterall, said Mr. de Blasio, “Machines don’t talk back. It’s about corporate profits, not people.”
Those issues, he said, would be among his priorities should he win the presidency.
As mayor of New York City, de Blasio must cope with the issues and concerns of one of the largest urban centers in the world, a city filled with honking horns, rumbling subways and stress as people race trying to get ahead.
Galivants Ferry, where he spoke with Klobuchar, Buttigieg and Biden, must have been quite a contrast for the mayor. That community, on the banks of the Pee Dee River, boasts only one light – a blinker. And the Stump, itself, took place on the parking lot of a large convenience store, although the gas pumps were shut down to avoid confusion.
Not exactly Madison Square Garden.