S.C. Democrats join their colleagues in Charlotte
CHARLOTTE — The day before the Democratic Party gathers here to nominate President Barack Obama for a second term, they threw a street party.
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Many of the 62 delegates from South Carolina joined hundreds of others and regular people from this metro area and beyond for Carolina Fest, a street festival that filled up about 10 blocks of Tryon Street with stages, food and souvenir vendors, protesters and onlookers.
Brady Quirk-Govan, a Charleston investment adviser attending his first convention, said he appreciated the diverse crowd at the event.
“We were walking through, and it looked just like America,” he said.
Alexa Graves, a student from Rock Hill, took some video of an animated protester.
“So far, it’s been entertaining,” she said. “I’m a Democrat, so this is my kind of thing.”
Delegate Kaye Koonce of Charleston spent a little time wandering around the street festival, including a stop by the Google pavilion that featured a car that drives itself.
“I don’t understand how it works, but that’s OK,” she said. “I don’t understand how my television set works either.”
Today, the show shifts inside Time Warner Cable Arena, where first lady Michelle Obama, Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., and others will address delegates and get down to business.
The issues on the minds of South Carolina delegates — jobs and the economy — probably differ little from what others in the hall will be thinking about, Charleston County Democratic Party Chairman Richard Hricik said.
“Before Barack Obama took office, we were losing jobs at a rate of 600,000 a month,” he said, adding the nation has seen private sector job growth every month for more than two years. “He (Obama) is a success. People say, are you better off than four years ago? Absolutely.”
But Republican National Committeeman Glenn McCall, who lives near Charlotte and visited here Monday to talk to students, had doubts.
“This is the issue: Are Americans better off (than they were before Obama)? And I would say in my family, we have many who are not better off,” he said, noting several of them are looking for jobs, and even he has faced headwinds trying to launch a consulting business.
Delegate Ginny Deerin of Charleston, who ran Mayor Joe Riley’s successful re-election campaign last fall, said the nation is better off than it was four years ago, when its economy appeared to be nearing collapse.
Deerin said delegates and voters across the country want an understanding of what’s next.
“I think people get that things have turned around and that President Obama has pulled the cart out of the ditch,” she said, “but I think they want to know what are the next steps? Where are we going now that we’ve stabilized the patient? I think they’re also looking for some positivity.”
The success of Obama and his slate of convention speakers will decide how motivated South Carolina delegates are to work to elect him — and other Democrats — during the next two months.
Many of them don’t expect to work as much in South Carolina, which is widely expected to go for Republican Mitt Romney, than in North Carolina, which polls show is leaning toward Romney but still could swing into Obama’s column.
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.