U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is known for going off-script, especially at party pep-rallies like the SCDP Jefferson Jackson dinner. Yet, he said he would “behave'” in his speech at the fundraising kickoff for the state party convention. Speaking to a thousand party faithful and hopefuls, he first paid tribute to now-retired South Carolina veteran leaders: Rep. John Spratt, Sen.Fritz Hollings, and Secretary of Education Dick Riley focused on the policy struggles the administration is having with Capitol Hill. He also joined in the tribute to 6th District Congressman James Clyburn’s 20 years of service. He promised to get South Carolina money for the Port of Charleston, saying that Clyburn is “relentless” in pursuing that federal funding.
Biden likes to vacation near Charleston and speaks of the state’s Democratic leaders as “old friends.” He shared that after the death of his first wife when he was 31, Fritz and his wife Peatsey reached out to him and ” helped save my life.” He said he learned his outspoken manner by sitting next to Hollings in the Senate for 32 years.
Biden also revealed that Gov. Riley was offered a U.S. Supreme Court nomination and turned it down. “The court would have been better off for your being there,” he said.
AUDIO: Joe Biden’s speech to SCDP convention (36:00)
Biden’s main message echoed a hopefulness that was heard in Democratic congressional candidate’s Elizabeth Colbert Busch’s remarks this week in her only debate with Mark Sanford: Keep the faith…South Carolina is coming back and America is on its way back.
“One of the things that bothers me most about the new Republican Party is how down on America they are, how down on our prospects they are,” said Biden.
Convention keynoter Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas told South Carolina Radio Network that is the message he wants South Carolina Democrats to hear — that despite being a “red” state, South Carolina is looked to for its role in presidential primaries for both parties.
“We just need to elect more Democrats here,” he said.
Democrats at this year’s event enthusiastically repeated the names of its top two prospects in state politics: Colbert Busch and gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen. The convention will elect a new party chairman this year, Jaime Harrison, to replace longstanding leader and firebrand Dick Harpootlian.