This feature focuses on with thought provokers, leaders, and popular characters from South Carolina, as we ask five questions which we hope will reveal more about them, their work, their ideas.
This week, my interview with candidate Nancy Mace–days after she announced–about her challenge of U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham in the GOP primary race. *Note: we are offering the same time to candidates who face a statewide primary challenge.
Ashley Byrd: You are widely recognized as the first woman to graduate from The Citadel, how much of that defines your approach and your approach to the U.S. Senate?
Mace: “An experience like The Citadel, which I don’t let it define who I am today, but when you go through a challenge like that where you’re left alone and you don’t know whether your friends are your friends, or whether they’re your enemies, it teaches you a lot about yourself and who you are. And it tests your faith. It tests your faith in God. It tests your honor, your credibility, and your trust. And during that time I learned a lot about myself and who I was. I worked very hard to be successful, and I had to be self-reliant. I had to have faith in God and faith of myself, that I was doing the right things for the right reasons in order to be successful.
And the (U.S.) Senate is much like a “good-old-boy” system. It’s the establishment. It’s the elite. And from what I’ve heard from people around the state is that certainly they are frustrated with our senior senator, but that’s not what this is about necessarily. This is about being frustrated with what’s happening in Washington. We have a lot of distrust as to what’s happening up there, whether it’s with our tax dollars, our health care, or our personal email and phone records. People think that Washington is simply out of touch with everyday Americans. It’s going to take someone who has stood strong and has a history of standing strong to those forces in order to withstand the barrage of pressure that any U.S. senator is under when they’re in Washington. I feel that the voters of South Carolina are looking for someone whose consistent, who believes in the Constitution, and has common sense. The biggest voting bloc in this country is common sense and I want to bring more of that up to D.C.”
Byrd: What are the issues you are running on, or challenging Sen. Graham on that you think make him vulnerable?
Mace: “I’m going to answer the question in two parts. First, I think there is this broader issue of trust in this government. Do you trust this government with your healthcare? Do you trust it with your taxes? Do you trust this government with your phone records and your email? I see that this government, this administration, and these career politicians, many of which cannot be trusted with those things. When we talk about issues it’s broader than that.
But to drill down into some of the more specific issues, I mean, I’m four and half days into this campaign, which is part of the reason why I say over the next couple of weeks and months I’m going to be putting out specific policy that I believe will change the direction of this country.
But in terms of just high level specific issues I look at something like Obamacare. Nobody wants Obamacare in this country right now. We have senators in Washington, like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Mike Lee, who are working hard to defund Obamacare. I think we should defund it and repeal it.
Our senior senator from South Carolina said the effort to defund Obamacare was a bridge too far. He wouldn’t support it. So, I question that. That’s not what the people of South Carolina want.
It could be about amnesty, taxes or tax revenue, debt ceiling increases, the $700 million (sic) in bailouts, the NSA surveillance scandal, or cap and trade. There are a lot of issues that I stand on the other side of Senator Graham on, that I feel are important to the people of South Carolina.”
Byrd: Graham is a congressional leader in foreign policy and has seniority in key areas of the Senate. does foreign policy matter to you — or loss of seniority for the state?
Mace: “People make the argument that he’s a senior senator, he has all the seniority, but where has that gotten us? Look at where we are today. We have Obamacare. We have amnesty. We’re not headed in the right direction. We’re headed in the wrong direction. And the only way to change Washington is to change who you sent to Washington. I haven’t lost hope; I think people want to see change. I think people are hopeful for change which is why there has been this great reaction. Foreign policy is extremely important, but look where we are today. We have a foreign policy that is adrift. Our enemies are emboldened by our lack of resolve, and Americans are frustrated. Because we’ve sent F-16’s and tanks to the Middle East like the Muslim brotherhood. We have folks up there who want arm and aid countries who hate our culture, burn our flag, and train terrorist to kill us and our allies. Like Congressman Jeff Duncan said a couple of days ago, ‘Why pay them to hate us? They can hate us for free.’ So, again there are serious issues we are going to have to tackle in the months and years ahead. And part of what’s happening, we see today in our foreign policy, it’s a great opportunity to have a discussion, to have a debate, because that’s not what we’re having. A lot of this is cloaked in secrecy. The people should be part of that debate and so should Congress.”
Byrd: You may be a newcomer to running, getting elected yourself, but you are no stranger to politics in your job (marketing, PR).
I’ve always said, knock on wood, that I would never get into politics. Never says never is a true rule in life. But I am passionate about politics and passionate about out country and a couple of years ago I picked up a few clients like Sen. Tim Scott and Congressman Mick Mulvaney and state Senator Tom Davis and helped them with their online presence and everything and I have worked with a lot more than just those folks.
Byrd: Including a controversial political blog. How do you describe your relationship now with “Fits News” and why did you recently divest from them
A lot of people ask me that, it’s a great question and I have been very straightforward and up front with that and I will continue to be. Fits News was a client of mine and the way that we were compensated was to have an equity stake. Our role was to design and program that website like any other client. I did not see it up front but over time people assumed that I had personally something to do with the editorial content of it –and I didn’t. At the end of last year, when I saw that was happening, I said, ‘Time out, wait a minute,’ I’ve had nothing to do what’s written on their or with the editorial content. All our role has been to design and program it. We were compensated differently but I have done that with a couple of clients over the years that didn’t perhaps have as much money to afford us so I said ‘Give me an equity stake.’ But people just make assumptions and judgements that I had something to do with the editorial content and that just wasn’t the case.
But I look at who advertises on it, who posts editorials and op-eds and their news releases on it. You’re talking about national leaders, folks who lead the state at the local level and business leaders. I don’t have to go through and name all those names. But I understand why people ask those questions.
I divested, started that process at the end of the year and people are going to assume that, ‘Well, she wants to run for office and that’s why she did that.’ I get it. I mean I get the timing of it and all of that. I started that process because it became very clear to me that people thought that I was more involved than I was and I started that process to divest myself of it and there was no reason for me to be involved with it any more because it’s not necessary to.