021116 News for Pawleys Island, Litchfield and Murrells Inlet
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GOP primary: Campaign trail gets crowded in S.C.

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and John Kasich campaigned on the Waccamaw Neck this week on their records as governors who solved problems.

With momentum generated in New Hampshire’s GOP primary — Kasich was second and Bush fourth — they are hoping to convince voters their experience as chief executives in the states of Ohio and Florida makes them a stronger nominee.

Bush called front-runner Donald Trump an entertainer and a reality TV star and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida first-term back-benchers pursuing personal ambitions. He said they can all turn a phrase.

“Donald Trump is larger than life,” Bush said at a campaign stop at the VFW post in Murrells Inlet Wednesday. “He’s gifted beyond belief in terms of his own ego, but he’s never been tested, never had to make a tough decision on behalf of somebody other than himself. He’s talented and entertaining unless you are a woman, unless you are Hispanic, unless you are a POW, unless you are a disabled person. It’s downright divisive and ugly and mean-spirited. The next president needs to unite us, not divide us as this president has done.”

Bush said he would be a president with “a servant’s heart.” Campaigning for the presidency is not a performance. “The only way a conservative can win,” he said, “is to select someone with a proven record of accomplishment who embraces conservatism in a hopeful, optimistic way.”

Kasich told a crowd at Applewood House of Pancakes in Litchfield Thursday that America is on the rise and he’s having the “greatest time” on the campaign trail. “We’ve got our problems,” he said, “but think about the things we’ve solved. Let’s believe in ourselves again and make sure everybody does their part as a person born here in the United States.”

Kasich emphasized his blue-collar upbringing near Pittsburgh, Pa. “I have always been the mailman’s son,” he said. “If I go to Pennsylvania Avenue, the mailman’s son will move to the White House. No big deal. I’ll go there to make sure the people who have not had a voice are going to have one.”

State Sen. Ray Cleary introduced Kasich, the first candidate he’s ever endorsed. “I believe in him because he’s a man who will actually bring people together and make our country stronger,” Cleary said. “I think that’s important. We don’t need an -on-the-job training man like we’ve had for the past eight years.”

He said Kasich served in Congress for 16 years and was chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

Trump has scheduled an event in Myrtle Beach Feb. 19. County GOP Chairman Randy Hollister said the Trump campaign is considering some smaller events and could schedule a campaign stop on the Waccamaw Neck that day. One of the Trump campaign staff’s concerns was that the Georgetown County Airport’s runway wasn’t long enough for his Boeing 757. He could fly to South Carolina in a smaller plane if he chooses not to land in Myrtle Beach.

The Waccamaw Neck GOP Club meets Monday and plans to conduct a straw poll after hearing from supporters of the remaining candidates in the race for the party’s nomination. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Waccamaw Library.

Rubio’s campaign staff met with supporters last week in Litchfield to encourage them to contact people they know and encourage them to vote for him Feb. 20.

Charles Littleton, who lives in Pawleys Island, said Rubio relates to the common man and seems totally approachable. “He obviously gets it,” Littleton said. “He comes across as someone you could trust.”

Rubio’s campaign arrived in South Carolina this week after finishing fifth in New Hampshire and losing some of the luster from his second-place finish Iowa. He trailed fourth-place finisher Jeb Bush by nearly 1,500 votes in New Hampshire.

“We’re going to be the nominee,” Rubio said on the Today Show. “It is just going to take a little longer, but we are going to get there.” On Fox and Friends, Rubio blamed the media for creating the narrative that something bad had happened to his campaign and for discouraging voters. The national story was that Rubio had responded to attacks by N.J. Gov. Chris Christie with the same phrase on four occasions. He ignored the criticism that he was too scripted or didn’t have enough depth, calling it “absurd” and promised to bounce back in South Carolina.

Littleton, a lifelong Republican, said it took some time for him to narrow the big GOP presidential field. Originally from Ohio, he likes Kasich and was initially impressed with Cruz of Texas. “I’ve come to realize he could be kind of Nixonian,” Littleton said, “an insidious control freak waiting to blow up.” He said Bush, the former Florida governor, has lacked charisma and failed to deliver, and Ben Carson doesn’t come across well on television. Donald Trump has gotten by on his celebrity but has no idea how to deal with Congress, the federal bureaucracy or the military. “You think things are confrontational now,” Littleton said. “I think Rubio is the guy.”

Tim Miller of Heritage Plantation said he’s backing Rubio because of his electability. “I just don’t see the two in front of him in the national polls as being electable,” he said. “Probably more importantly, what’s going to happen if and when they get to Washington?”

Miller, a Midwesterner, said there’s a saying there that applies to Trump: “big hat, no cattle.” He hasn’t heard Trump say what he’s going to do if elected. “He has no idea other than to bully people,” Miller said.

Hadji Hicks, another Pawleys resident, said he can see Rubio as commander-in-chief. “I think what the country is asking for, at least what I’m asking for, is someone who can relate to my personal needs, not just from an intellectual point of view but an experience point of view. I support him because he’s convinced me through and through.”

Hicks said selecting a president requires an element of faith. “What the country hopes for now, I believe, is for the American dream not to die, for our youth to be secure and safe and have a good education and for our senior citizens to be able to rely on their country’s help.” Hicks said Trump is a “wonderful TV man,” but Rubio is a people person.

Faithel DuBois of Hagley said she and her husband Tom see Rubio as a candidate who can unify the party. “He has a vision for the country,” she said. “They know he’s the one they have to beat.”

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