NEWBERRY — Gov. Henry McMaster and John Warren took to the stage at The Newberry Opera House on Wednesday for the last debate before the June 26 run off. Topics such as education, healthcare, confederate monuments and the budget were just a few issues brought to the stage.
Prior to questions, both candidates were given the opportunity to explain why they are running for governor.
“I am proud to be your governor, there is nothing I’d rather do and that is why I’m doing this and that’s why I’m running for reelection,” McMaster said. “I’m proud of South Carolina, everywhere I go I try to look and act and do the things you’d expect your governor to do. In this race we’ve heard a lot of negative charges, a lot of negativism. I don’t believe in that, I think the governor’s purpose is to inspire the people, to lead and to make things happen for the betterment.”
McMaster discussed how Volvo is expanding their plant in the Lowcountry and how another group, yet to be named, is talking about investing four billion dollars into the state.
“Ladies and gentleman, our state is going right to the top, we have potential for enormous prosperity, I want to be sure we get there,” he said. “In the time I’ve been your governor, I’ve announced six billion in new capital investment, almost 21,000 jobs. We are winning and I wanna keep winning.”
Warren said last Tuesday Republican voters across the state said they do not want Gov. McMaster’s “failed leadership.”
“Over 58 percent of the voters said that, what they want is a new Conservative Reform Movement. What that movement represents is a group of conservatives across the state that want to bring solutions to our complex problems, because we have a lot,” he said. “We have lost four billion dollars with Santee Cooper, we are 50th in education, we are overtaxed — and the ones bearing the burden of that are the small business owners and the hard working South Carolinians across the state,” said Warren. “Our roads and our bridges are crumbling, we have no strategic plan for that, we are still funding Planned Parenthood. We’ve got to have new leadership, someone who can come in, bring positive change, positive solutions to our complex problems and that’s what I’m going to do as governor.”
Moderator Charles Bierbauer first asked Warren how his experience will translate over to the governor seat, keeping in mind he would be dealing with an independent legislature.
“I am proud to be a Conservative outsider, it is true I don’t have government experience,” said Warren. “What I have experience in is leading Marines in intense combat, growing a successful business. Those two things will translate to great leadership and true accomplishment as a governor.”
Warren added that people ask him “all the time” how his military record will translate.
“You can look at why I went into the military to begin with — our country was attacked. I went in to serve my country and led my Marines into combat, that is exactly why I’m going in to become governor. I want to fight for the tax payer, I want to bring positive change,” he said. “In the military, in combat, we face a lot of obstacles, I know how to handle a crisis, I’ve done that repeatedly. In terms of growing a successful business, I know the complex role of what all of our small businesses are facing. I’ve been there. I’ve created hundreds of jobs, I know how to bring companies to South Carolina because I’ve brought billions of dollars in investments myself. That’s why I asked the people to elect me, have to have someone with the right work competency to lead this state, someone who has been successful in the private sector.”
McMaster was asked what he learned moving from Lt. Governor to Governor and why an outsider “who is a quick study” couldn’t do that.
“There is no real time for a learning curve, governorship is not a place for on the job training,” McMaster stated. “(You) have to have a basic understanding of how the government works and what your limitations are in the government and what your advantages are. I need to go back, about half of what my opponent said was wrong — we have a 10 year plan to fix the bridges, implemented over a year now. We’ve got more people working in South Carolina than we’ve ever had before, our unemployment rate is lowest it’s been since 2000.”
McMaster added that “you must be positive in order to fix a problem,” and if a person is not positive, they “cannot be governor.”
McMaster was then asked what “rookie mistakes” he is worried Warren might make.
“There could be a lot of them, one of them Mr. Warren and others who announced, going to the legislature and bullying legislators that is not the way to get things done. The governor must go to the legislature in order to work with them. Politics is an art of addition, not the art of subtraction, what you must do is find ways to work with the people to convince them of the things they need to do, to get the job done and you need to be positive in order to do that,” McMaster said. “There is a lot of knowledge necessary to understand the way government functions — and why it functions — and to have a chief executive who is in charge of functions who does not know how they function is a dangerous thing to do.”
McMaster added that he salutes Warren’s military service, but government is not military, there is a difference and he has a record of getting things done and wants to continue doing that.
Warren was then asked what career politician flaw he would attribute to his opponent. However, before he answered the question, Warren said he found it ironic that McMaster finds the fact he has no experience a negative.
“You tout more than anything else is the fact you are supporting President Trump. President Trump had no government experience, and I think you’re going around telling everyone, and I agree with, that he is doing some amazing things,” Warren said. “We need someone who is an outsider like Donald Trump, to go to Columbia and drain the swamp. Specifically when we talk about career politicians, you can work with the legislature, we have a ton of great legislators, and I look forward to working with them. But, we’ve got some rotten apples, one of which you endorsed: Hugh Leatherman. He (Leatherman) has been one of the worst things to hit South Carolina for the last 30 years. Doesn’t care about our state, doesn’t care about making things better, he is profiting off the tax payer. I am not going to work with him and I’m going to take him out during the next election in two years. Have to have someone who is going to fight for the tax payer, and that is what I’m going to do, bring true conservative reform to South Carolina.”
Both candidates were asked what they think the average South Carolinian is worried about.
Warren said he thinks they are worried about the future. He said, as a state, we are 50th in education and it is getting worse and we need to have someone who understands the economy and has been successful in the private sector to get the state back on track.
McMaster believes the worry lies in economic future, the future of children, public safety, all of those areas he said he has had success and has gotten stuff done, working across party lines.
Healthcare was one of the topics in the debate, and where South Carolina stands.
“I agree with Nikki Haley, we do not need to expand Medicaid, the state cannot afford it. What we need to do, like every industry, bring in more competition. The last thing we need is Obamacare, more competition, get insurance across state lines,” Warren said. “Here across the state,especially rural areas, rural hospitals are going out of business. We need to think outside the box, think tele-medicine, so anyone can find a good doctor. Overall, competition would be the best thing.”
McMaster talked about “dodging Obamacare” and when he was attorney general, he and a group of attorneys put together a lawsuit that went to the Supreme Court, and that parts remain in tact, and parts President Trump is taking care of.
“I have also promoted a bill to allow nurse practitioners to work in rural areas without having limitation on the number of miles for which they have to be from which they can be from a supervising physician,” he said.
As of June 20, the General Assembly has not passed a budget, McMaster was asked what he feels is necessary to the budget and what he would veto.
“I have asked to see it pass a Sanctuary City Bill, make us true sanctuary city free now and in the future, also a bill allowing trained certified police officers in every school in South Carolina,” he said. “I will veto anything that allows burden of failed decisions of SCANA and Santee Cooper to have rate payers pay for nuclear reactors. Will veto anything that comes across my desk that charges them more than zero.”
Warren was asked the same question, as a hypothetical. He said it is shameful that South Carolina still funds Planned Parenthood, and as governor he will not sign a bill that funds one cent to them.
“That already should have been done and with real leadership we can get that done,” he said. “Governor mentioned SCANA and Santee Cooper, I’m the only one on this stage not taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from SCANA, Dominion and Santee Cooper, and when the merger to bail out SCANA and Dominion, you (McMaster) were initially for that. I would never allow tax payer funds or rate payers to bail out private sectors.”
McMaster responded by saying he opened up what was happening, which revealed all the misdeeds and corruption from those organizations.
Both candidates were asked if they feel it is time to remove confederate monuments and promote change in the Heritage Act, which makes it difficult to remove the monuments.
McMaster said he supported the Heritage Act, he believes it was a good act that should be enforced.
“You remember that there was a lot of debate over a lot of years, resolved in the Heritage Act. I think it is a good law and the best approach we’ve come up with so far,” he said.
Warren said he too supports the Heritage Act, and South Carolina needs to move forward.
“What we saw with Mother Emanuel shooting was a unification of our state against hate. See we have a strong state, share so many core values, (I will) continue to promote that as governor,” he said. “These monuments are not impacting anybody in a negative way, I support the Heritage Act. We need to move on and focus on the real issues that are affecting South Carolina.”
One of the final questions asked was how both candidates could help minorities in South Carolina, a large percentage of whom are in poverty.
Warren said look at his record, he has worked in various diverse organizations, including the Marines which he said is an amazing road map, like all U.S. military, he said. He also pointed to his company, which he said has a diverse workforce.
“I want everyone to rise, bring hope to all people in South Carolina,” he said. “I want to do it with the tax code, lift taxes off so many South Carolinians that keep them in poverty, bring economic opportunity and hope to all South Carolinians.”
Warren also discussed the education system and the fact that parents should not have to send their kids to a failing school.
McMaster said he knows poverty is the enemy of education and to get rid of poverty we have to have economic growth. The way to get money for better education, is by economic growth, he said.
Reach Andrew Wigger at firstname.lastname@example.org.