On Thursday, Jan. 25, Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison and South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Christale Spain spoke to a crowd of supporters in front of the courthouse in downtown Manning. The stop in Clarendon County is one of many events held by the SCDP in their “We Go First” tour. This tour is to promote the Democratic presidential primary to be held on February 3, 2024.
Several community leaders, including Town of Summerton Mayor Tony Junious, Clarendon County Democratic Party President Patricia Pringle, Clarendon County Council Chairman Dwight Stewart, and Third Circuit Solicitor Ralph Finney, made opening remarks.
City of Manning Mayor Julia Nelson started the introductions with a statement of support. “We’re so glad [Harrison and Spain] chose to come down to Manning today and we wish the entire Democratic Party success. So, everyone please know that you’re welcome in Manning, South Carolina.”
Spain, alumni of the University of South Carolina and the first black woman to Chair the SCDP, began her speech by emphasizing the historic nature of this year’s state primary. In February of 2023, the Democratic Party approved the reordering of its 2024 presidential primary, replacing Iowa with South Carolina in the leadoff spot as part of a major shake-up meant to empower Black and other minority voters critical to its base of support.
“Black voters, rural voters, white voters, veterans, everybody that represents South Carolina Democrats will be the first to have their voices heard,” Spain declared. She went on to reiterate the importance of voter turnout for this presidential election and that Nikki Haley is not a moderate or safe alternative to Donald Trump. “We know who [Haley] is. Nobody has to tell us … MSNBC can’t fool us to believe she is a moderate because she signed an extreme abortion ban into law right here in South Carolina. We remember that. We remember that she refused to expand Medicaid, forcing the only hospital in her hometown, where her parents still live, to close. So, if she going to do that to them, what is she going to do to us? Make sure you that you make the right choice and you vote for the progress that we’ve been seeing on the Democrats for the past three and half years.”
After Spain caught the crowd’s attention, DNC Chair Harrison brought the committee’s talking points home. “We have a foundation to make the change that we know that is desperately need in this state. And that why it’s so important that we get people to turn out to vote in this first in the nation primary because we need to send a signal not only to the republicans in the state but to republicans across this country who take this power to dismiss you and diminish you.”
Harrison spoke of his mother, who was a teenager when she had him and had to drop out of school. He spoke of his grandmother, who picked cotton and cleaned houses, and of his grandfather, who had a fourth grade education and paved roads for a living. “Society would say these people are simple people. But you know what? They were rich. Rich in terms of the values that they had. They respected each other. They had morality. They had dignity to work hard. And history always had these people as voiceless. But guess what? That’s changing.”
Harrison also credited President Joe Biden with infrastructure wins and inclusion. “And as I said, we don’t give this president enough credit because he believes everybody should have a seat at the table … No other president every thought had the notion or gumption or the courage to change the schedule from Iowa, New Hampshire to South Carolina. Because we have shown time and time again that this nation needs folks to stand up for freedom.
Harrison ended his remarks with a comparison on the two political parties. “I talk a lot about superpowers. You know, I grew up reading comic books. It’s how I learned to read. And I think the superpower of the Republican Party is fear … they believe our better days as a nation our behind us. Our superpower isn’t fear. It’s hope. Because we understand that our better days aren’t behind us, they’re ahead of us. We believe that American dream should be available to all regardless of who you are, what you look like, who you love, who you pray to. That is what America is all about. The American Dream is all about hope. We know more than anything about that. Hope and faith have gotten us through so much as a community in South Carolina … As we march in Feb. 3, we make sure our nation understands that the people in South Carolina have something to see. Our motto is not ‘while I breathe, I hope’ but ‘while I breathe, I vote.’”