Presidential candidates Dr. Ben Carson, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Former Governor Martin O’Malley, attended the “20/20 Leaders of America: Candidates for Justice Forum” event hosted by Jeff Johnson of Black Entertainment Tonight (BET) at Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina yesterday. Former Governor Jeb Bush and Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent surrogates to Allen University to speak on their behalf. Dr. Ben Carson had finished his interview and was leaving at the time we arrived at Allen University. Members of the press were directed to a room with approximately two hundred seated attendees who thought that they would actually see their candidate at the event. However, there was a section with a live streamed video of the event and a section where the Presidential candidates would actually appear to be interviewed and both areas were heavily covered by security.
Upon arrival, Dr. Ben Carson was shaking hands and leaving the event using the exit where the video was being live streamed. Dr. Carson pleasantly allowed several attendees to take photos with him. Being in a live streamed location with an invitation to the “Primary Filing and Rally with Bernie Sanders” event where Senator Sanders would appear live, we decided to leave the poorly attended live streamed event at Allen University.
Within the area of the second event, we saw individuals holding signs with “Bernie Sanders” at the entrance of a parking lot adjacent to 915 Lady Street in Columbia, South Carolina. We also noted several individuals were exiting their vehicles with Bernie Sanders tee shirts and signs. As we exited the parking lot we saw Mr. Tom Turnipseed, a respected and popular retired attorney here in South Carolina, walking to the Bernie Sanders event. Staffers for the Bernie Sanders campaign were very welcoming as they greeted attendees and directed them to the back of the building at 915 Lady Street. There were approximately 150 people who had gathered at the location to see Senator Sanders on short notice.
Representative Terry Alexander of the State of South Carolina appeared at the podium and provided a prelude of issues that Senator Bernie Sanders is interested in either pursuing or changing. Then, Representative Alexander welcomed an avid supporter and friend of Senator Sanders, Mr. Reg E. Cathey an award winning actor on the “House of Cards” who plays the owner of a barbeque restaurant. Mr. Cathey said he is happy to be in South Carolina in support of Senator Sanders who saw a need to do things differently for all types of people, hardworking people, and the American people.
Senator Sanders arrived at the podium stating, “Are you all ready to be part of the biggest political upset in the modern history of the United States?” The crowd yelled in agreement. “This campaign is not about electing Bernie Sanders. This campaign is about transforming the United States of America! This campaign is about making America the kind of country that we know it can become.” His words were fluid without a moment of hesitancy. Senator Sanders said he wants to end the massive level of income wealth inequality. He wants to end childhood poverty and make the minimum wage fifteen dollars ($15) an hour. He wants pay equity for women to become a reality. In addition, he wants to create more jobs by rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure. Senator Sanders wants to make public colleges and universities tuition free. He wants to put an end to the obscenity of United States Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, No. 08-205 (2008), and he wants to make a citizen’s registration to vote mandatory by operation of law upon reaching the age of eighteen (18) years. In spite of the very light rain, no one left the event as Senator Sanders was speaking.
In the front of 915 Lady Street, members of the press were invited to ask Senator Sanders questions. I asked Senator Sanders: As you know, the House of Representatives recently passed the American SAFE Act of 2015. Do you feel that America, in response to these terrorist attacks, do you think that it’s proper that our elected representatives should be legislating from a position of fear as opposed to a position of strength? Senator Sanders responded: “This is what I think! Many, many hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children have been tossed from their homes in Afghanistan by terrorism. They are leaving their country, let’s put ourselves in their place, they are leaving their country with the shirts on their back, that’s all they have. What this country has been throughout its history is a beacon of hope for people. So this is not just an issue for the United States, it’s a global issue. It’s an issue for Europe. It’s an issue for countries in the gulf region. Like, Saudi Arabia and Khuddar. The U.A.E. (United Arab Emirates). But the entire world community cannot simply turn its back on refugees. Obviously, it goes without saying there has to be a strong vetting process. But I am very concerned, that some of my Republican colleagues and Presidential candidates are really playing the fear card. That’s not what America is supposed to be about!” Senator Sanders seemed really passionate about the subject of finding a place for Syrian refugees to call home. Shortly thereafter, Senator Sanders took full advantage of a reporter’s question by jokingly reviving the Saturday Night Live (SNL) parody regarding his underwear by retorting, “I have more than one pair of underwear.” It was a funny moment that was captured on the video to this article. Ultimately, it was a great day in the State of South Carolina!