Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum told those attending the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention on Sunday in Myrtle Beach to think carefully about who they will support for the Republican nomination.
“This is the most important race in our country’s history,” the GOP contender said.
“I understand why you are angry, and I would say please pray and do the right thing – don’t act out of anger or frustration. Channel that into something that is positive for your country,” Santo rum said.
Santorum was referring to GOP frontrunner Donald Trump when he said that experience is needed in the White House. The populist billionaire has never held public office.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The State
This is the most important race in our country’s history.
Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum
“Why would you support someone for president of the United States who has no record as to what they would do?” Santorum said.
“I understand the anger, I understand you want to fight and do something different,” Santorum said.
Robert Blythe, a Pennsylvania resident who was recording the Steelers football game while attending the second day of the convention, said Santorum was not his first or second choice, “but he could easily be in the picture for me.”
“He doesn’t have as much charisma as Trump or (U.S. Sen. Ted) Cruz,” said Blythe, adding that Ronald Reagan had charisma.
“Good leaders are charismatic people,” Blythe said.
Several hundred people turned out Sunday to hear Santorum and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore address the convention.
Gilmore also focused on national security and recounted the events of the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Virginia when he was governor of the commonwealth, and said little has changed to protect the country against attacks from radical Islamists.
“This is a very dangerous time and you need to have somebody who has experience, this is no time to put an amateur in the White House,” said Gilmore, who served in the Army during the Vietnam War. “The Middle East is on fire and coming to pieces and we are engaged in an international war.”
Gilmore, whose national polls show his support at less than one percent, said that if he were elected president, he would jump-start the economy, eliminate Obamacare and return the U.S. to a market-based system, reign in the EPA, defend the 2nd Amendment and eliminate Common Core.
Gilmore’s speech was interrupted numerous times by applause for all of those promises, but it didn’t appear he was swaying many votes from the convention-goers who mostly sported stickers and lapel pins declaring support for candidates like Trump and Cruz.
This is a very dangerous time and you need to have somebody who has experience, this is no time to put an amateur in the White House.
Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore
Ron Kimsey of Ellijay, Georgia, echoed what a lot of conventioneers had to say about Gilmore’s candidacy; “I used to live in Virginia, so I recognized the name. But, I didn’t know he was running, so I was surprised to see his name on the (speaker’s) list.”
Carly Fiorina was supposed to address the convention Sunday, but canceled her appearance last week.
Nearly 1,000 people filled the convention room at the Springmaid Beach Resort in Myrtle Beach on Saturday to hear Trump, Cruz and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee make their case to win South Carolina’s February primary and ultimately the Republican nomination.
Trump amused the audience by taking jabs at South Carolina’s U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, but the crowd booed the frontrunner when he blasted Cruz for boosting his campaign coffers with a $1 million loan from Goldman Sachs.
“Say whatever you want, he didn’t report his bank loans,” Trump said.
The audience was more appreciative of earlier jabs Trump took at U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
“I like him, now that he’s out,” Trump said.
Graham announced his endorsement of Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush this week, and Trump said Graham’s support will add zero voters to Bush’s campaign, and jokingly predicted Bush’s poll numbers will drop.
The audience also gave Trump a rousing round of applause for his pledge to strengthen border protection.
Cruz delivered a conservative speech touching on hot-button issues that have frustrated the party base with the Republican establishment in Washington. Cruz supporters at the convention defended their candidate as a maverick Republican, who voted as promised when he was elected to the Senate in 2012.
The event continues Monday with Dr. Ben Carson addressing the convention at 11:20 a.m.
Hudson can be reached at 843-444-1765