Six Republican candidates trying to get U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham out of office spoke at a Liberty Rally in downtown Charleston Saturday afternoon.
"We've got a senator that must be replaced, period," said candidate Bill Connor of Orangeburg, an attorney, Citadel graduate and Army Reserve Lt. Colonel.
Graham is also a Republican, but those running against him characterize him as more on the side of big government than a champion for liberty.
The rally drew about 150 people to the steps of the U.S. Customhouse on East Bay Street. Flags of all sizes and designs were abundant, as were signs and T-shirts touting liberty and decrying big government.
The rally was organized by the Mount Pleasant 9.12 Project.
Of the candidates trying to replace Graham, S.C. Sen. Lee Bright of Spartanburg drew the most supporters to the rally. About 50 people wearing yellow T-shirts held up yellow signs supporting him.
"The greatest threat to American security is Washington, D.C.," Bright told the crowd. "They're destroying our country. It's us versus them."
Others running against Graham who spoke were Nancy Mace of Charleston, the first female graduate of The Citadel; Benjamin Dunn, a Columbia-area attorney and National Guard infantry officer; Richard Cash, an Upstate businessman; and Det Bowers, a Columbia pastor.
Two Republican candidates who want to replace Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn spoke. They were the Rev. Leon Winn of Manning and Anthony Culler of Kingstree.
Ray Moore of Columbia, who is running for lieutenant governor, urged Christians to take their children out of public schools.
"We cannot win this war as long as we keep handing our children over to the enemy to educate," he said. "(The) godless, pagan school system .. cannot be fixed."
Sheri Few of S.C. Parents Involved in Education spoke against the Common Core standards in the public schools. She got an enthusiastic response when she asked, "How many of you believe that Common Core is destroying public education?"
Dianne Belsom, president of the Laurens County Tea Party, recounted their battle with the Internal Revenue Service, which she says has weighed them down with burdensome demands for information and held up their application as a non-profit group for more than three years. The crowd cheered when she said, "It's clear that it's time for the 16th Amendment to be repealed and the IRS be abolished."
Former Dorchester County Sheriff Ray Nash took the opportunity to give a little lesson on the Second Amendment.
The Bill of Rights does not give the right to bear arms, contrary to popular belief, Nash said. The right to bear arms is a god-given right, not granted by the government, Nash said. The Bill of Rights is just making sure the government recognizes it.
The crowd cheered.
Dave Schwartz of Americans for Prosperity spoke against increasing federal power.
Michael Acquilano, legislative advocate for the Catholic Diocese of Charleston, also greeted the crowd.
The rally ended with the group singing "God Bless America."
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.