S.C. candidate for governor Catherine Templeton touted her outsider status and Civil War roots during a campaign speech Thursday at Bob Jones University.
After making waves last year during a speech in Pickens County – where she said she was "proud of the Confederacy" and vowed not to allow Civil War monuments to be removed if she is elected governor – the Mount Pleasant attorney cited the Civil War again.
“It’s important to note that my family didn’t fight because we had slaves,” Templeton said to a room mostly filled with university students. “My family fought because the federal government was trying to tell us how to live.”
Templeton said her family arrived in South Carolina in the late 1700s, adding her father was named after Judge William Brawley, “who fought for this state, fought in the Battle of Seven Pines, even lost an arm for this state.”
Chester County native William H. Brawley fought in the Civil War and then returned to Brawley Plantation before he went to Europe to study law. He later became a federal judge who lived in Charleston, according to historical reports.
“We didn’t need them to tell us how to live way back then, and we don’t need them to tell us how to live today,” Templeton said.
Democratic candidate for governor James Smith criticized Templeton’s praise of the Confederate cause.
“Catherine's deliberate attempt to divide our state and insert dog-whistle politics into her campaign is shameful and clearly demonstrates her unfitness for office,” said state Rep. Smith, D-Columbia. “South Carolina deserves better.”
Templeton led two state agencies during Gov. Nikki Haley’s tenure. But she touted herself as a political outsider who has never run for office and never would seek another office if elected.
Templeton is the the third candidate in June’s GOP primary to campaign at BJU, the conservative Christian university in Greenville, joining Gov. Henry McMaster of Columbia and Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant of Anderson.
In her speech, Templeton told of her opposition to abortion — shared by the other GOP candidates — and, later, quoted Psalms, saying it would take an “army of angels” to win the governor’s race.
She praised Haley, railed against Democratic President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency regulations and cited her moves to shrink government by removing bureaucrats at the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. She also touted her opposition to unions as the head of the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, saying that helped bring Boeing to North Charleston.
McMaster, she said, allowed the longshoremen to unionize at the S.C. Carolina Ports Authority, vetoed millions to replace fire-prone school buses and allowed the largest tax increase in recent history with last year’s gas-tax increase. (McMaster vetoed the tax increase. However, the GOP-controlled Legislature overrode his veto.)
Templeton said she would shift money from administrative levels to teachers and principals in the state’s schools, expand private school-choice options, focus on the education and job needs of rural counties, privatize the state’s school bus fleet if possible and reduce the size of government.
Templeton said her work in Columbia against the “corrupt establishment” led the State Law Enforcement Division to call her and ask her to begin carrying a weapon for her protection.
Now, she told the crowd, you will find her grandfather’s .38-caliber pistol in her purse next to Chick-fil-A coupons and car keys.
“They said, ‘Come get a concealed weapons permit and carry,’” she said. “Can you imagine having a job where you’re doing the right thing and people are so upset that you have to carry a gun to protect yourself?
“Well, I’m not finished doing the right thing,” she said. “So I’m still carrying a gun because I’m running for governor right now because no one is rattling cages in Columbia.”
The State’s Jamie Self contributed to this story.