Politics & Government

SC Gov. McMaster compares Democrats to ‘dogs’ at GOP event

tbarton@thestate.com

An earlier version of this story stated that McMaster had referred to his opposition in the upcoming general election, Democratic state Reps. James Smith of Columbia and Mandy Powers Norrell of Lancaster, as “dogs.” Upon further of the audio tape from the event, McMaster did not state their names to make that direct comparison.

S.C. GOP Gov. Henry McMaster Monday night referred to Democrats as “dogs” and urged his fellow Republicans not to become complacent with one of their own, President Donald Trump, in the White House.

McMaster, addressing a crowd of about 1,250 gathered for U.S. Rep, Jeff Duncan’s, R-Laurens, eighth annual Faith and Freedom BBQ, told GOP voters not to be fooled by the seemingly “reasonable” Democrats.

“We got an election coming up, and everybody says, ‘Well, this is a Republican state so all the Republicans will win.’ Don’t fall into that trap,” McMaster said. “We’ve got to fight hard, be sure most of our Democratic opposition are pretending they’re Republicans way down deep. They won’t tell you how they vote. They won’t tell you how they think, but I’ll tell ya they are far out to the left. They are extreme. ...

“... Now, they’ll come up and talk to you, and they seem so nice. They seem reasonable. But, then you remember they’re in the same league as Nancy Pelosi.”

McMaster then listed off polarizing national Democratic figures, including Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer.

“Our Democratic friends are a lot like dogs. One on one, they’re really nice, but in a pack they’re dangerous,” McMaster, an avid bulldog owner, said to applause. “So I tell you, we can’t let up. We got to go hard. And in South Carolina we are making progress, and it’s because we have a president ... Donald Trump, who is one of the greatest we have ever had or ever will have.”

McMaster’s opposition in the November general election responded.

State Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell, a Lancaster Democrat running to become lieutenant governor on Columbia state Rep. James Smith’s ticket, tweeted: “Ha! @henrymcmaster says @JamesSmithSC and I are ‘nice’ one on one, but also make a ‘dangerous’ team! You bet we do! Ready to shake things up! #SmithNorrell.”

A poll released last week by Smith’s campaign shows the Columbia Democrat trailing McMaster, also of Columbia, by 4 percentage points.

McMaster has the support of 47 percent of voters, the poll says, to Smith’s 43 percent, with 10 percent undecided.

Smith’s poll found McMaster is far better known than Smith. Eighty nine percent of respondents said they recognized McMaster’s name compared to only 42 percent for Smith. But those surveyed did not have high opinions of the governor.

McMaster’s campaign, instead, has pointed to a poll by the Tarrance Group, done for the Republican Governors Association, that shows McMaster with a wider lead over Smith — 52-41.

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