GOP vot­ers say Trump, jobs and the econ­omy are a win­ning combo for SC Gov. Mcmaster

The State (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY TOM BAR­TON tbar­ton@thes­tate.com

Repub­li­can S.C. Gov. Henry Mcmaster picked up the en­dorse­ment of two pint-sized heroes Wed­nes­day.

Mcmaster and his lieu­tenant gover­nor-run­ning mate, Pamela Evette, de­scended from their red-and-black cam­paign bus, wrapped by a large photo of the pair, to be greeted by a mem­ber of “The In­cred­i­bles” and Jack Spar­row from “Pi­rates of the Caribbean.”

From the trick-or-treaters in Hana­han to a diner in Cayce to an as­sisted liv­ing cen­ter in Sum­merville, Mcmaster and Evette pledged to cut taxes and reg­u­la­tion to strengthen South Carolina’s econ­omy and cre­ate bet­ter pay­ing jobs.

“Buckle your seat belts be­cause, the next four years, we are go­ing to go faster and far­ther than ever be­fore,” Mcmaster told a group of sup­port­ers, clus­tered in­side The Red Barn at Tan­ner Plan­ta­tion in Hana­han for a Low­coun­try GOP get-out-the-vote rally.

The stop was one of three on the first day of a statewide bus tour the Mcmaster-evette cam­paign kicked off Wed­nes­day to rally sup­port­ers, head­ing into the fi­nal stretch of Tues­day’s gen­eral elec­tion.

The gover­nor was joined by Repub­li­can U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of Charles­ton, state Rep. and 1st Dis­trict Repub­li­can con­gres­sional can­di­date Katie Ar­ring­ton of Sum­merville, state Su­per­in­ten­dent of Ed­u­ca­tion Molly Spear­man of Saluda, and lo­cal SC House and Se­nate mem­bers.

Mcmaster, who be­came gover­nor in Jan­uary 2017 when Gov. Nikki Ha­ley joined the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, is seek­ing his first full term as gover­nor. He faces state Rep. James Smith, D-columbia, in Tues­day’s elec­tion.

The gover­nor drew ap­plause for help­ing se­cure fed­eral money to deepen the Charles­ton har­bor to in­crease cargo ca­pac­ity at the Port of Charles­ton and for push­ing suc­cess­fully to re­vive plans to com­plete In­ter­state 526 over James and Johns is­lands.

“You know how you spell ‘port’? M-O-N-E-Y,” Mcmaster said to laughs.

A new Winthrop Univer­sity poll re­leased Thurs­day found nearly three-fourths of South Carolina res­i­dents feel good about the state of South Carolina’s econ­omy. Many also de­scribed their own fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion as good or ex­cel­lent and get­ting bet­ter.

And Mcmaster is tak­ing credit.

Com­pa­nies have promised to add some 24,000 jobs and in­vest more than $8 bil­lion in the Pal­metto State since Mcmaster as­sumed of­fice in 2017. Un­em­ploy­ment also has fallen to a record low.

“We’re cook­ing,” Mcmaster said to a group of about 50 peo­ple gath­ered at a Lizard’s Thicket restau­rant in Cayce. “We have great op­por­tu­nity in South Carolina if we don’t mess it up. So I say we got the right team. We got the steam . ... We are win­ning, and we’re go­ing to keep on win­ning!”

Smith and his run­ning mate, state Rep. Mandy Pow­ers Nor­rell, D-lan­caster, ar­gue fo­cus­ing on the job­less rate and job growth with­out con­sid­er­ing slug­gish wage growth and low work­force par­tic­i­pa­tion rates clouds the big­ger pic­ture.

Mcmaster sup­porter Sarah Brodie isn’t buy­ing that.

“I go to a lot of (Charles­ton) busi­nesses, and they’re hav­ing trou­ble keep­ing em­ploy­ees,” said the 61-year-old Brodie, a Hana­han res­i­dent who plans to vote for Mcmaster. “Em­ploy­ees can walk out the door to an­other job to­mor­row. This econ­omy is do­ing good. I don’t know what his op­po­nent is talk­ing about. As far as I’m con­cerned, this is the best econ­omy I’ve seen in over eight years.”

‘BUILD THE WALL’

Mcmaster’s sup­port­ers, too, said re­duc­ing health­care costs, clos­ing Im­mi­gra­tion loop­holes and se­cur­ing the border were high on their list of is­sues in­flu­enc­ing their vote in Tues­day’s elec­tion.

“Build the wall,” 91year-old Betty Behler in­ter­rupted, dur­ing a stop at The Blake at Carnes Cross­roads, an as­sist­edliv­ing and mem­ory-care cen­ter in Sum­merville.

Behler said she re­cently voted a straight-party Repub­li­can ticket via ab­sen­tee bal­lot. A Florida trans­plant who moved to the cen­ter more than a year ago, she said she sup­ports Mcmaster be­cause he sup­ports and has the back­ing of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. The pres­i­dent re­mains fairly pop­u­lar in con­ser­va­tive South Carolina, par­tic­u­larly among Re­pub­li­cans.

Both Behler and Brodie said they worry about health-care and pre­scrip­tion-drug costs but op­pose ex­pand­ing Med­ic­aid in the state, as Demo­crat Smith pro­poses.

In­stead, Brodie prefers to scrap the fed­eral health-care law and start over with more in­put from busi­ness lead­ers across the na­tion, and al­low health plans to sell in­surance across state lines.

Smith and Nor­rell have said their first pri­or­ity will be ac­cept­ing fed­eral dol­lars to ex­pand the joint fed­er­al­state Med­ic­aid in­surance pro­gram for the poor and dis­abled. They ar­gue the state is leav­ing money on the ta­ble that would im­prove health out­comes and boost the state’s econ­omy, adding jobs.

South Carolina has re­jected ex­pan­sion for years un­der GOP lead­er­ship due to con­cerns about strain­ing the state’s bud­get.

Mcmaster and Evette ar­gue there are bet­ter al­ter­na­tives, in­clude pro­mot­ing the use of telemedicine and loos­en­ing the re­stric­tions on nurse prac­ti­tion­ers so they can do more to im­prove the health of ru­ral South Carolini­ans.

‘IN­CI­VIL­ITY’ BUT ‘FRIENDS’

Pre­vi­ous bus tours proved a help­ful boost for Mcmaster in the June GOP pri­mary and en­su­ing runoff.

From ad­dress­ing thou­sands of cheer­ful coun­try mu­sic fans in Myr­tle Beach to tout­ing his en­dorse­ment from the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion at a Columbia gun show, the stops helped the gover­nor pick up new vot­ers and rally his base.

In Bluffton on Thurs­day on an­other leg of his bus tour, Mcmaster greeted a group of 50 or so cheer­ing sup­port­ers whose clap­ping com­peted with Tom Petty’s de­fi­ant an­them, “I Won’t Back Down.”

Five days from the elec­tion, ev­ery chair was filled in the small meet­ing room of the Hamp­ton Inn & Suites Bluffton-sun City, lo­cated in a part of Beau­fort County poised to grow with peo­ple and new gated com­mu­ni­ties.

Trump’s name adorned a few hats and T-shirts among the crowd, some trans­plants from the Mid­west and the North­east, some re­tirees.

Mcmaster re­ferred to the re­cent U.S. Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings of As­so­ciate U.S. Supreme Court Jus­tice Brett Ka­vanaugh and what he called the “in­ci­vil­ity,” “de­cep­tion” and “lack of hon­esty” dis­played by Democrats.

But he later called the other side “friends.”

Mcmaster drew ap­plause when he pledged there would be no off­shore drilling off the Pal­metto State’s coast. The gover­nor has pushed for an ex­emp­tion from the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­ci­sion to end a ban on off­shore drilling.

TIM DO­MINICK tdo­minick@thes­tate.com

Repub­li­can in­cum­bent Gov. Henry Mcmaster and lieu­tenant gover­nor nom­i­nee Pamela Evette stopped last week at an as­sisted liv­ing home in Sum­merville dur­ing their bus tour around South Carolina.

TIM DO­MINICK tdo­minick@thes­tate.com

Repub­li­can in­cum­bent Gov. Henry Mcmaster can’t re­sist a pooch kiss dur­ing his bus tour around South Carolina.

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