A daily look at how the presidential candidates of both parties are trying to win the “First in the South” primary.
The road to the White House set up shop Thursday morning in Rock Hill with Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee sitting down for Attorney General Alan Wilson’s first of more than a dozen planned forums.
“The next president could pick nearly half of the Supreme Court justices,” Wilson said, noting four of the nine Supreme Court justices will be over the age of 80 during the next term. Thursday’s forum was hosted by the Conservative Leadership Project and Winthrop University. The CLP said most of the 17 declared GOP presidential candidates have confirmed their participation in the series this fall, although only two other dates have been set at this time.
Huckabee, the former pastor, Arkansas governor and talk show host, is struggling to gain any traction in the GOP polls so far. A national Monmouth University poll released Thursday shows him with just 4 percent support among likely primary voters, while the same group’s South Carolina poll had him at 3 percent (within the poll’s margin of error).
The former Arkansas governor promised he would only appoint judges with strict interpretations of the Constitution as originally intended. said if given the opportunity, he would focus on nominating justices who model the mindset of already-seated Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. “Not because they’re perceived as conservative,” Huckabee said. “But because they’re perceived as people who believe that we should let the language and the actual words by the writers of the Constitution be that which we judge.”
He also suggested he would go outside the usual route of naming justices with Ivy League credentials. “The kids on those campuses are no more intelligent, insightful, or able than those of you who go to Winthrop University. They’re just not,” he told Thursday’s audience.
Huckabee said the Second Amendment is often mischaracterized as a means of limiting recreational hunters and enthusiasts. Instead, he said, it was written into the Bill of Rights to protect Americans.
“It is something the founders believed was sacred,” Huckabee said. “They understood that the last line of defense between you and a government that has gotten out of control is you — armed — able to resist.”
— Donald Trump promised Thursday that he will not run as an independent should he lose the GOP primary and he will support whoever wins the Republican nomination for president. Trump told reporters of his pledge shortly after meeting with Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus in New York that day. “I will be totally pledging my allegiance to the Republican Party and the conservative principles for which it stands. And we will go out, and we will fight hard. And we will win.” South Carolina’s GOP is requiring their candidates sign such a promise in order to be listed on the ballot in February. Trump has not yet signed the South Carolina pledge, however.
— Huckabee was the last visit in a relatively quiet week for political candidates in South Carolina. Things pick up again on Monday, when Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio participates in a North Charleston town hall with fellow U.S. Sen. Tim Scott and Congressman Trey Gowdy. The event will begin at 6:00 p.m. Monday at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center. Rubio has made several trips to the Lowcountry, speaking out against China in another North Charleston speech last week.
— Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday may have thrown cold water on an effort by some Democrats to get him in the party’s 2016 primary. The Associated Press reports Biden told a Jewish community center audience in Florida that his decision will hinge on whether he and his family have the “emotional energy to run.” Biden, who unsuccessfully sought the White House in 1988 and 2008, said he did not know if he would mount a campaign – a move that would come months after the death of his 46-year-old son, Beau.