For those who traveled to the First in the South 2016 Candidates Forum at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina, on November 6, 2015, it was a cloudy day with a few subtle occasions of misty rain. Upon entry into Winthrop University, security seemed omnipresent as they were positioned to provide instructions to the attendees who came to watch the Presidential candidates’ forum event hosted by Rachel Maddow of “The Rachel Maddow Show” (TRMS) televised during the weekday on MSNBC. Politicians, scholars, students, press members, and Democrat supporters seemed to be making use of every walkway at Winthrop University. While getting adjusted in the Spin Room which is otherwise a gymnasium, the area was modified to facilitate press reporting with uninterrupted WiFi connections, electronic outlets, long tables with chairs, a huge flat screen television to watch the live streamed Presidential forum, an introductory brochure with the history of Winthrop University, and a variety of restaurants located within 20 feet outside the Spin Room.
Having returned to the Spin Room, there were three members of Winthrop University’s faculty who greeted members of the press individually: Dr. John Holder (Southern Politics); Dr. Karen Kedrowski (American Government and Politics); and, Dr. Laura Ullrich (State and local economics/finance). There were two other faculty members that were welcoming attendees in the building across from the Spin Room: Dr. Scott Huffman (Winthrop Poll and Public Opinion); and, Dr. Adolphus Belk, Jr. (American Government). Former Representative Bakari Sellers of South Carolina who is now a contributor for CNN was in the Spin Room speaking to members of the press as well.
Just moments after being seated a feeling of excitement was in the air which led to the first photograph of Senator John L. Scott, Jr. of South Carolina who was walking toward a local television network to be interviewed. Across from Senator Scott was U.S. Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina who was being interviewed by a member of the press. At approximately 5:10 p.m. word had spread about an event taking place in the Richardson Ballroom. This is where hors d’oeuvres and drinks were made available while attendees and politicians chatted and posed for pictures. Representative Lonnie Hosey of South Carolina was in the Richardson Ballroom speaking to attendees who approached him.
At approximately 5:30 p.m. the Richardson Ballroom event culminated with South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison approaching the stage carrying his son in his right arm and speaking words of Democratic accomplishment with high hopes of turning the State of South Carolina blue in the 2016 election cycle. Former U.S. Representative John Spratt of South Carolina was the host of the event and spoke kind words of SCDP Chair Jaime Harrison and U.S. Representative Clyburn. South Carolina Party Chairman Harrison welcomed all the Chair members from across the States and those associated with the Democratic Party to stand on the stage with him before passing the microphone. Representative Clyburn is well respected and loved in the State of South Carolina and his comfort in delivering speeches to his constituents is both jovial and unencumbered. For example, Representative Clyburn said politicians are known for using the trite expression, “My friend on the other side of the isle. But we really don’t mean it!” Then, he followed up with, “When I tell you that the man I’m about to introduce is a true friend, I really do mean it!” U.S. Representative John Yarmuth of Kentucky had come to the stage to greet his dear friend Representative Clyburn.
When Democratic National Convention Chairwoman and U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz received the microphone she said that the nation is excited because we have three (3) Democrat candidates all of whom are each qualified to be President of the United States. Then, she explained jokingly that she had to say that because there hasn’t been a primary election yet. However, by implication, Representative Wasserman Schultz revealed which candidate she favored when she associated the word “she” with being elected the next President. The audience erupted with a loud cheer because most of those in attendance used deductive reasoning to make the conclusion that Representative Wasserman Schultz had referred to in her statement.
Standing behind Representative Wasserman Schultz are Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter of South Carolina, Louisiana Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Carter Peterson, West Virginia Democratic Party Chairwoman Belinda Biafore, North Carolina Democratic Party Chairwoman Patsy Keever, Georgia Democratic Party Chairman DuBose Porter, Tennessee Democratic Party Chairwoman Mary Mancini, and a few others who were not known to this writer. Representative Wasserman Schultz engaged the audience by inviting them to look at the gender imbalance on the stage where the women overwhelming outnumbered the men holding positions of power in the Democratic Party. The event in the Richardson Ballroom had come to an end shortly thereafter.
Now, Representative Clyburn, Senator Peterson, and Georgia Chairman Porter walked over to the Spin Room and subjected themselves to a session of questions and answers by members of the press. Representative Clyburn encouraged young people to get involved in politics. His suggestion was that political power isn’t something that one should ask another to give. If you want it, you must take it! That’s what he did when he ran for office many years ago. Senator Peterson said she is excited about the heated upcoming election in Louisiana on November 21, 2015. She’s expecting her candidate John Bell Edwards to win the upcoming election.
Georgia Chairman Porter said, “Turning down medicaid expansion that is short of healthcare in so many rural areas where hospitals have either closed up or gone broke. There was an opportunity to share in the nation’s prosperity, but the Republicans leadership in the South said, ‘No.’ Ultimately, the people who had gotten hurt were the working middle class families in South. So we have the opportunity to say what Democrats are for and what we would fight for for us in congress. What we talk about at the grassroots level for families, for job training, for healthcare, for clean air and water, for mass transit, . . . things that turned around many other places in the nation. It didn’t in the South because our Republican leadership said ‘No’ to the things that brought prosperity to other parts of the country. That’s an important message for us to play because we can catch up if we elect Democrats and put the Democratic values and priorities into the economic policies for our state and for our future.” The dialogue with these three politicians flowed smoothly and their answers were spot on so to speak!