A defining moment for Nancy Mace, a Charleston PR executive and the first woman to graduate from The Citadel military college, was the day her father, a Citadel administrator and retired Army general, dropped her off at the school.
He said: “Don’t call home if you want to quit. Just put on your shoes and start walking,” Mace told a group of about 30 people Tuesday at a West Columbia luncheon for the First Tuesday Republican Club of Richland and Lexington counties.
Mace joined two of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s other GOP primary opponents — Easley businessman Richard Cash and Orangeburg attorney Bill Connor — at the luncheon. Talbert Black, a Tea Party activist, spoke as a surrogate for state Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg —Graham’s fourth challenger in the June primary — who was in Tulsa, Okla., attending a fundraiser.
Graham was invited to the luncheon but did not attend.
Mace told stories about her upbringing, casting herself as self-reliant and trustworthy. She also touted her ties to U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of Charleston, U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney of Indian Land and state Sen. Tom Davis of Beaufort, all Republicans who employed her marketing firm, adding she wants to be a unifying voice for Republicans. “I want to be the glue that brings the party together, that makes us stronger.”
Each candidate had about 15 minutes to speak.
Cash and Connor continued themes they presented in Rock Hill last month, when the two and Bright met for the first time in a political forum.
Cash started, again, making light of his the size of his family, including eight children. “Folks, I could be looking at 40, 50 grandchildren,” he said, and “have a hard time keeping up with their names.”
Cash talked about what he sees as deterioration in the United States, due in part to the country’s leadership. “We know that we’re in trouble with legislative dereliction of duty, with judicial activism and now presidential imperialism right in our face almost on a weekly or monthly basis.”
However, Cash added, the greatest threat to the country is the deterioration of Christian values, reflected in laws protecting abortion and efforts to extend marriage to same-sex couples.
Connor, an Army veteran who described himself as an “original intent” constitutionalist, read from the Constitution and interpreted for the audience. Education and health care are not mentioned in Constitution and should be left to the states, he said.
Connor said he became involved in politics after seeing “a microcosm” of the contrasts between Europe and America while deployed in southern Afghanistan and working alongside European troops. European troops “sat there waiting to be told what to do,” Connor said, adding that showed their “socialist or semi-socialist” culture, compared to “America, the land of freedom and ingenuity where hard work pays off.”
Electing him, Connor said, would be electing someone “who has faced Taliban bullets.”
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