South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson lashed out at Gov. Henry McMaster and U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan on Tuesday for failing to criticize President Donald Trump’s delay in ordering American flags to be lowered after U.S. Sen. John McCain’s death.
“These people wrap themselves up in the American flag, they wrap themselves up in God and patriotism; but they are the most unpatriotic, Christian-less people to walk the face of this Earth,” Robertson said at a fundraiser for Mary Geren, a Democrat from Anderson who is running against Duncan, a Republican from Laurens.
Flags at government buildings were lowered to half-mast after McCain died Saturday. But the flag at the White House was flying at full-staff on Monday morning. Later Monday, Trump issued a proclamation calling for flags to fly at half-staff until McCain’s interment in spite of his differences over policies and politics with the Arizona senator.
Although they did not mention the flag controversy, McMaster and Duncan both praised McCain on Monday night at Duncan’s Faith and Freedom barbecue fundraiser at the Civic Center of Anderson. About 1,250 people at the event also observed a moment of silence honoring McCain.
At the same event, McMaster compared Democrats to dogs.
“One on one, they’re real nice, but in a pack, they’re dangerous,” McMaster said.
Geren issued a statement Tuesday morning criticizing McMaster.
“These are shameful remarks, especially from South Carolina’s governor,” she said. “These types of comments are divisive and have led to everything that’s wrong with the current toxic state of American politics.”
Geren is seeking to prevent Duncan from winning a fifth term in South Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District. The heavily conservative district includes part of Greenville and all of Anderson, Oconee and Pickens counties.
Anderson Mayor Terence Roberts introduced Geren at Tuesday’s fundraiser.
“I found the right candidate. I found a woman who brings something completely new to the district’s politics,” Roberts said. “I found a woman who has not experienced the Beltway brainwash.”
In her speech, Geren said that if elected, she will work to protect jobs in the district from the harmful effects of an “unnecessary” trade war.
She also vowed to focus on education and health care.
“I am working and fighting for quality education for all little boys and girls, as well as affordable higher education, regardless of their address, regardless of their bank account,” she said. “I am working and fighting for affordable, accessible health care for all Americans.”
About 300 people attended her event at Clemson University’s Mandren Center. They heard from 20 speakers, including a mother, a retired postal worker, a gay Presbyterian pastor, a rabbi, a Muslim imam and Sarai Bautista, an undocumented immigrant student whose family moved to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 11 years old.
Former Greenwood County Republican Chairman Trey Ward received loud applause when he endorsed Geren.
While saying he has been a lifelong Republican, Ward said, “I can no longer support this Republican Party.”
Geren said she wanted to give a voice to groups throughout the district that have been ignored by Duncan.
“We’re black, white, brown, gay, straight, old and young. We are farmers and factory workers. We are veterans, teachers and students. We are Christian, Muslim, Jewish and none of the above,” she said. “We are a beautiful mosaic of colors, creeds and origins.”
Anderson resident Bob Caughlin said the event was the “best I have ever attended. I am amazed.”
“I really like the fact that they were able to show the diversity of our party,” he said. “Seeing it all on display is a real motivator.
“If that is what they were trying to do, get people motivated to go out and work for Mary, they did a good job.”