1st CD Republicans square off in YouTube debate

1st CD Republicans square off in YouTube debate
May 27 15:17 2020 Print This Article

The four Republicans who hope to unseat Representative Joe Cunningham in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District squared off Tuesday at the Charleston Marriott, in their first and perhaps only debate before the June 9 primary election. Bikers For Trump founder Chris Cox, Mt. Pleasant Town Councilwoman Kathy Landing, State Representative Nancy Mace, and Bluffton housing official Brad Mole appeared together for the first time. The debate was moderated by Charleston County Republican Party Chairman Maurice Washington, and the panelists were talk radio hosts Charlie James (WTMA) and Kelly Golden (94.3 WSC), ABC News 4 anchor Tessa Spencer, and YouTube journalist Quintin Washington.

The debate was viewed by a socially-distanced live audience and streamed on YouTube and on the ABC News 4 website. There were some lively exchanges between candidates. Here is a synopsis of what the candidates said:

Chris Cox. Cox is the founder of the grassroots motorcycle group Bikers For Trump that has supported Trump Rallies around the country and Republican Congressional campaigns. Cox claims to have President Donald Trump’s personal cell phone number and that he gets calls to the President returned within 24 hours. He wants to see medical supply production shifted from China to the United States. Cox also called for Congressional term limits and pledged to help military veterans get the services they need. He spent a lot of his allotted time going after other candidates. He questioned Mace’s ties to Koch Network groups Club For Growth and Americans for Prosperity and Landing’s role in managing Mt. Pleasant’s reserve fund. Both candidates were given time for rebuttals.

Kathy Landing. Landing touted her 35 years as a certified financial planner and problem-solving skills as her strengths. She stated that China seeks world domination and that she will support measures to limit China’s influence on America and the world. She discussed her ability to reach out to black voters by promoting right-to-life and economic opportunity, including jobs in the skilled trades. Landing said corporate sponsorships could be a way to fund infrastructure projects, including expanding broadband internet access. Without mentioning her by name, she tacitly went after Mace for getting most of her campaign funds from out-of-state sources. Landing also went after Cunningham, stating that his voting record closely matches Speaker Nancy’s Pelosi’s.

Nancy Mace. Mace touted her status as the first woman to graduate from The Citadel and her service to the Trump 2016 campaign in seven states. She said that small businesses hold the key to restoring the 1.86% unemployment rate the area enjoyed prior to the COVID-19 shutdown protocols that were issued in March. She views increasing eligibility age and income means-testing as ways to keep Social Security solvent. Mace expressed that reducing tax rates always leads to greater prosperity. She says the First Steps Act criminal justice reform bill and expanded school choice measures will attract more black voters to the Republican Party. Mace described Cunningham as reactive and offering no solutions and said that Pelosi controls his votes.

Brad Mole. A political newcomer, Mole said he entered the race because he thinks he can expand the traditional Republican base and attract more youth and minority voters. He said that federal land sales are one way to recoup the debt accumulated during the COVID-19 stimulus bills. He noted that two of the five Social Security Advisory Board positions are vacant and need to be filled. He observed that the recent distance-learning scenario highlighted the “digital divide” in which poor and rural communities lack access to broadband internet. Mole said the SC Department of Corrections does a poor job of preparing inmates for the jobs in demand and that rehabilitation should be prioritized. He closed by quoting talk radio legend Rush Limbaugh: “When you have the right candidate in place, you’ll get a larger voter turnout.”

During the two hour debate, there were no questions asked about China policy, trade policy, border security, immigration, national security or national debt. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two candidates will square off in a June 23 runoff. All registered voters may participate in absentee voting at the county election offices.