The third and final presidential debate was Oct. 22. Here is the transcript of a live chat throughout that event, featuring USC political science professor Mark Tompkins and The State reporter Andrew Shain.
Headlines from the conventions...
A delegate returns after 28 years
Published Aug. 28, 2012
The last time Barbara Bowers was a Democratic delegate, Geraldine Ferraro was the vice presidential nominee and the Reagan revolution was in full swing.
She was a delegate for New York at the 1984 convention in San Francisco. Now 28 years later, the retired teacher and real estate agent from Northeast Richland has returned representing South Carolina at the Charlotte convention.
Bowers became a delegate when Walter Mondale was the nominee to fight the expansion of nuclear weapons. She decided to return this year to make the state better and show her support for President Barack Obama, whom she volunteered for in the 2008 campaign.
Bowers arrived at Time Warner Cable Arena at 1:15 p.m., more than three hours before speeches started and took a seat near the front row of the delegation’s section.
“I want to hear everybody,” she said. “Being a delegate, it’s work.”
She was joined by several early arrivers, including state Reps. Gilda Cobb-Hunter of Orangeburg and John King of York, who were concerned about beating the crowds expected with Thursday’s convention events being switched from Bank of America Stadium.
The return of Eva Braun
Former Gov. Jim Hodges’ message about taking back the governor’s mansion on Thursday drew a repeat of a controversial comment about Gov. Nikki Haley made by S.C. Democratic chairman Dick Harpootlian on Wednesday.
Hodges was talking at the delegate breakfast when he mentioned how candidates needed troops to win elections.
“General (Dwight) Eisenhower had a great gameplan to win World War II when we went into the Battle of Normandy,” he said. “But what would have happened if they didn't have the troops to fight those battles? Think about that. We’d be speaking German now.”
“With Eva Braun,” a delegate responded.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned the Germany analogy today,” Hodges responded.
Haley participated in news conferences in Charlotte from a basement television studio at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which drew a comment from Harpootlian that “she was down in the bunker a la Eva Braun.”
Haley called the comment “despicable” and asked for an apology.
Harpootlian said he has no plans to apologize.
Maryland governor talks to SC delegates
South Carolina’s final delegate breakfast featured a possible 2016 presidential candidate and a White House aide.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley told delegates Thursday that Gov. Nikki Haley promised to fix the economy but instead cut freedoms -- a reference to the voter ID law.
"What does that have anything to do with creating jobs?" he asked.
O’Malley’s daughter attends the College of Charleston and he teased 10-term Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, who attended the breakfast.
“Most people are sick of mayors after two terms,” he joked.
O’Malley rallied delegates like he did in his convention speech earlier in the week.
“Progress is a choice, job creation is a choice,” he said. “America’s best days are ahead of us. We’re not going to look back.”
The next speaker former Indiana governor and U.S. senator Evan Bayh said he had a tough act to follow since “(S.C. Democratic chairman) Dick Harpootlian has the best sense of humor in politics today.”
Bayh -- who works at the same law firm, McGuire Woods, as former SC Gov. Jim Hodges -- said he is bothered by the partisan politics.
“The problem with the far right is they seek to divide us as a country,” We have so much more in common than what divides us. We are not red states and blue states. We are red, white and blue states with common causes.”
White House intergovernmental affairs director David Agnew, a Charleston native and former deputy to Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, touted state Sen. Vincent Sheheen for governor.
Agnew said he and Sheheen were among 19 people in the same Liberty Fellowship class.
“We had Democrats, Republicans and independents in the class,” Agnew said. “If we took a vote for who should be the governor, 18 would have voted to for Vincent Sheheen.”
When Agnew was finished speaking, Harpootlian asked him to consider coming back to South Carolina someday and run for office.
Benjamin: 'I have a pocket full of business cards'
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin has been driving to Charlotte everyday to attend seminars and receptions, and meet business contacts.
Benjamin said he watched First Lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday on television and planned to do the same with former President Bill Clinton last night.
“I enjoy the politics, you have to enjoy the energy, but I enjoy the policy and fellowship a lot more,” he said after attending a luncheon sponsored by The Huffington Post that featured anchor Tom Brokaw and musician will.i.am.
Benjamin attended a reception held by Charlotte Mayor Anthony on Monday and he spoke to Mississippi delegates on Wednesday on the importance of voting.
“The histories of South Carolina and Mississippi are very similar,” he said, “So many people of all stripes and backgrounds gave so much for the precious right to vote.”
Also Wednesday, he was planning to attend municipal leaders gathering at Emeril Lagasse’s restaurant and a reception at the Mint Museum for The NewDeal, a pro-business organization co-chaired by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who will speak to S.C. delegates on Thursday.
He plans Thursday to attend a mayor’s forum and a reception for The Hamilton Project, another pro-business group.
Benjamin said he had chance to be delegate as chairman of the state Democratic Convention but chose to come to Charlotte for the other events where he could pitch Columbia for economic development.
“I have a pocket full of business cards,” he said.
Obama's acceptance speech headed indoors
President Barack Obama's acceptance speech on Thursday has been switched from Bank of America Stadium to Time Warner Cable Arena because of concerns over forecasts of severe thunderstorms.
"We share the disappointment of over 65,000 people who signed up for community credentials to be there with the President in person," a statement from the Democratic National Convention Committee. "We encourage our community credential holders and Americans across the country to continue to come together with their friends and neighbors to watch and participate in history."
About 7,000 ticket holders are from South Carolina. Obama will address credential holders in a conference call on Thursday, the committee said.
Remnants of Hurricane Isaac has doused convention goers periodically during the week.
The Dick Harpootlian show
S.C. Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian, never a loss for a quick quip, tossed a few stinging one-liners at the Wednesday delegation breakfast.
On Gov. Nikki Haley participating in daily news briefings in a basement studio at the NASCAR Hall of Fame: “She was down in the bunker a la Eva Braun.”
His opinion on why he thinks Republicans dislike education funding: “An educated population would not elect a Nikki Haley.”
On former Gov. Mark Sanford’s trip on the Appalachian Trail: “Silly me, I thought he was just screwing us.”
At the end of a string of zingers, former Democratic party chairwoman Carol Fowler stepped up to the podium and stood next to Harpootlian.
"They called me up here to save you from yourself," she said. "Or to save the rest of us."
Scenes from Charlotte at convention time
This is not the Charlotte visitors and residents are accustomed to.
Many streets around uptown are closed and several two-way roads have become one-way to stream traffic through cluttered corridors. Metal barriers line sidewalks to funnel pedestrians through quickly.
Traffic is dominated by buses -- usually those taking delegates to events or their hotels sprinkled across Charlotte. South Carolina is based in a Courtyard Marriott not far from the Charlotte airport and about 10 minutes from Uptown -- under normal circumstances.
Police are everywhere. Police from Charlotte. Police from Charlotte suburbs. Police from Atlanta, Washington and Chicago. Secret Service and FBI agents are sprinkled in along with guardsmen.
And there are a generous handful protesters. They are living in a park a few blocks away from the convention center housing the media and delegate meetings and Time Warner Cable Arena, home of the convention’s first two nights.
For the most part, protestors have stuck to their planned marches but a few have taken to the streets and laid in intersections. Traffic is so congested, I’m not sure many commuters notice why they have stopped.
A few anti-abortion protesters holding large graphic photos parked themselves outside the convention center when delegate caucuses met. Some delegates chanted “Pro-choice” in response.
A block away from the convention center, the NASCAR Hall of Fame has been a magnet this week. Delegates have used the museum for several receptions including a pair for the folks from South Carolina. Republicans are holding daily press briefings from studio inside the hall. Protesters looking to attract attention for corporate influence in politics have marched along surrounding sidewalks.
The protesters and delegates have to share the sidewalks with hawkers who stroll along with bags filled with $10 bootleg T-shirts or boards carrying rows of buttons with deals of three for $10.
Some restaurants and shops have closed for the week. A popular daycare is staying open but is half full for the week. Restaurants just outside the busy areas are half-empty. A waitress at a brew pub was relieved to hear an incoming diner ask to “occupy a table for two.”
Sheheen sounding more like candidate for governor
State Sen. Vincent Sheheen sounded like more than just a candidate for state Senate Tuesday morning when he addressed the S.C. delegation to the Democratic National Convention.
The 2010 candidate for governor told delegates that South Carolina has a unique story to tell the nation: What happens under Republican rule.
“When I pay my federal taxes, I want my tax dollars to come back to South Carolina,” Sheheen said. “When you have Republicans ruling your state with an iron fist, they say send it to Puerto Rico. They send it to New Hampshire. They send it to North Carolina. So we turn away education dollars that could be coming to South Carolina.”
Sheheen attacked Republicans for ethics lapses, accusing them of “destroying public email” and saying they have created a “pay to play government in South Carolina.”
Sheheen thanked the delegates for their support of his 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Sheheen said it was the second closest governor’s race in the country – in a year that Republicans dominated across the country.
“The Democratic Party in South Carolina has fought uphill for the last decade or so. We’re not afraid to take those battles on,” he said. “We’ll fight up hill and we’ll lose some of the time. In the end we’re going to win the battle, right, not afraid, we care and love South Carolina’s people more than anything and any other place in the United States of America. I’m proud to be a Democrat.”
The crowd went wild. State party Chairman Dick Harpootlian had introduced Sheheen as a 2014 candidate for governor to cheers from the crowd. Sheheen said he has not decided if he will run for governor.
But after his speech, Harpootlian summed up what most delegates were thinking:
“That was a hell of a state Senate campaign speech,” he said.
Old football foes Jesse Jackson, Jim Clyburn meet again
The Rev. Jesse Jackson made a surprise appearance at the Virginia delegation breakfast on Tuesday before U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina spoke.
Jackson has been making unannounced appearances at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. On Monday, he showed up at The Charlotte Observer newsroom where an editor made him a peanut butter sandwich.
Jackson, who is pushing a huge voter registration drive, assailed recent voter ID laws like the one South Carolina passed and is fighting in federal court. He said the laws that require presenting a state-issued identification to cast a ballot harkened to the days of segregation, when the South was ostracized.
“You cannot have the (Carolina) Panthers and (Atlanta) Falcons behind the cotton curtain,” Jackson told delegates. “You cannot have Airbus behind the cotton curtain.”
In his speech to Virgina delegates, Clyburn repeated his message that measures backed by Obama and the Democrats helped the economy in the wake of the financial meltdown. He touted a two-year growth in jobs. “We did stop the hemorrhaging,” Clyburn said.
Clyburn also teased how he played a high school football game against Jackson, a Greenville native who was a quarterback.
Asked about the game after his speech, Clyburn, who played running back at a school in Camden, said simply: “Not too well. They beat the hell out of us.”
SC delegates party with John Legend
One thing is clear from the first two days of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte: South Carolina delegates know how to party.
Delegates returned to the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Monday night for "Light up the Night: A Toast of the Carolinas," a party hosted by AT&T, Duke Energy and The Shaw Group.
Party-goers each wore a blue, flashing light bracelet and mingled while munching on barbecue and drinking cocktails. Nearly all of the South Carolina delegation was there, including Sen. Vincent Sheheen, Camden Mayor Jeffrey Graham, former Gov. Jim Hodges, Richland County Democratic Party Chairman Bakari Middleton, political consultant Bud Ferillo and state party Executive Director Amanda Loveday.
There were some non delegates there, including state Reps. Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, Walt McLeod, D-Newberry, Leon Stavrinakis, D-Charleston, and Senate Democratic Caucus Political Director Phil Bailey. Sam Johnson, special assistant to Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, made an appearance along with Nu Wexler, a South Carolina politco now working in Washington, D.C., for Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut.
The event did have some Republican party crashers, including Brant Branham, the former chief of staff for former SC Lt. Gov. Ken Ard, and Joel Sawyer, the former spokesman for Republican Gov. Mark Sanford and now a senior vice president with Donehue Direct, a Columbia-based political consulting firm.
And who were all of these people there to see? SC native Edwin McCain of course (and some guy named John Legend). Legend's set started with "Redemption Song" and included a slow dance with a lady from the crowd that ended with Legend singing her "Happy Birthday."
SC delegates will party hard again Tuesday night, when they are scheduled to attend a party with special guest will.i.am.
SC delegates' home away from home
When SC delegates are not partying with John Legend and Edwin McCain, odds are they are at the Hospitality Central hosted by the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber has taken over the Blackfinn Saloon in Charlotte and turned it into a filing center for media. But it's also doubled as a meeting place for the SC delegation. U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn had lunch there on Sunday, and Monday newly elected Democratic National Committeeman Boyd
Brown, state Rep. Joe McEachern and state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter were spotted inside.
But it's the outside of the restaurant that is getting most of the attention. Myrtle Beach officials trucked in 15.5 tons of sand for a sand sculpture of President Barack Obama. The sculpture has been damaged by some rain storms, but sand sculptors have repaired the damage.
Clyburn to address convention at 8:30 on Tuesday
U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn will address the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m., according to his spokeswoman.
Clyburn, the only SC Democrat in Congress, has been the public face of South Carolina the first two days of convention-related activities in Charlotte. NBC's Chuck Todd interviewed Clyburn this morning, and Sunday night Clyburn spoke to the official delegation party for South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia.
The convention officially gets underway Tuesday night at the Time Warner Cable arena. President Barack Obama will accept the party's nomination Thursday night at Bank of America stadium.
Sheheen: Unsure about guv run
State Sen. Vincent Sheheen said Monday that he has not ruled out another run for governor after falling short against Nikki Haley in 2010.
“It’s not smart to run for another office when you are running for re-election,” he told a group of Winthrop University students in Charlotte where the Democratic National Convention is being held.
Sheheen, of Kershaw County, is not facing much a fight for a third four-year term in Senate District 27. He’s running unopposed.
Several SC delegates said Monday they want him to run against Haley in 2014, whom Sheheen said was more interested in national issues rather than state matters in their last campaign.
Sheheen also said that he did not think it was appropriate for state leaders to refuse to answer questions from a reporter like Haley did to The State’s Gina Smith last month.
Even if he doesn’t agree with a reporter: “I might not want to answer your question, but I will treat you with respect. I don’t think I would say to anybody (putting) my hand in your face and say, ‘I’m not going to talk to you.’ ”
'Hmm, riddle me this'
Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter of Orangeburg spoke to delegates about statewide and local races and she took a few shots at Gov. Nikki Haley, a primetime speaker at last week’s Republican National Convention.
“She was in the lineup for the diversity show. I saw her going around talking about what it’s like to be an immigrant, what it is to be a person of color,” Cobb-Hunter said of the daughter of Indian immigrants. “And I said ‘Hmm, riddle me this.’ I don’t know if the Romney folks know that on her voter registration card, she lists herself as white.”
'Don't you have go home and get off your ass?'
The SC delegation's featured breakfast speaker on Monday, Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana, offered his own motivation for SC delegates after the convention ends.
"Don't you have go home and get off your ass? Don't you need to go home and put up your signs?" he asked. "I'm looking at a room full of people sitting on the their asses. Let me see if you can stand up!"
And the crowd rose to its feet.
'If we win North Carolina, we win'
The SC Democratic delegation started convention week with a mini rally from chair Dick Harpootlian at its breakfast meeting Monday.
Harpootlian told delegates that he was frustrated about the networks asking the President’s surrogates about the sour state of the economy. The country was heading over a financial cliff under George W. Bush, he said.
"Yes, we're better off than we were four years ago," Harpootlian said drawing huge applause from the crowd.
He also urged the 73 delegates and alternates to volunteer in North Carolina -- a battleground state unlike South Carolina. The SC Democratic Party already has paid for television ads in North Carolina.
“If we win North Carolina, we win,” Harpootlian said.
The breakfast included two former governors, Richard Riley and Jim Hodges.
There was a call for a third with no name mentioned -- though the applause was directed at Vincent Sheheen of Kershaw County, who is presumed to run again against Gov. Nikki Haley in 2014.