The Citadel is drawing some heat over cadets participating in Republican political events, including appearing in uniform at candidate rallies.
During Rand Paul’s South Carolina kickoff last week, multiple cadets were ordered back to campus just before the event started. They’d shown up in uniform and likely were going to be seated in the background of his TV shots. Paul even made reference to the cadets during his speech on military sacrifice.
“We owe the next generation of warriors, like these students from The Citadel, the wisdom to know when war is necessary and when war is not,” Paul said. By then, most had left after their permission to be there was revoked.
According to Citadel officials, the students were recalled because the school has a policy against cadets going to events where a candidate endorsement might be implied, and the school was just late in getting the word out.
That answer, though, didn’t sit well with some. Retired Army Sgt. Jonathan Lubecky, a veteran day student at the school, said that rescinding permission just before the event was wrong.
“It gives the appearance of favoring some candidates, while purposely denying others,” he said.
For instance, members of the school’s Republican Society were ordered to be at last week’s appearance by former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Lubecky pointed out. Cadet faces were also featured in a pro-Perry presidential candidacy video that went out afterward.
“All candidates should be treated equally in a campaign cycle,” said Lubecky. “It appears as if the rules were changed for this specific (Paul) event.”
Col. Brett Ashworth, vice president of communications and marketing at the school, said the difference between the Perry and Paul events was that Perry’s appearance was school-sponsored, as opposed to Paul’s kickoff.
It turns out U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford’s appearance at Rand Paul’s South Carolina presidential kickoff was not an official endorsement.
The 1st District congressman took the stage at Patriots Point and praised Paul and his dedication to constitutional principles. But he did not come right out and say the Kentucky Republican is the candidate he’ll support for the GOP nomination.
“I’m here as part of the welcome committee,” Sanford said at one point.
Afterward, Sanford told reporters that his supportive words should not be considered as him tossing his support to Paul. “But stay tuned,” Sanford said.
It doesn’t appear that Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton will be visiting South Carolina this week as part of her campaign kickoff that’s expected to launch today.
Clinton is scheduled to declare her bid by way of social media, with early visits to Iowa and New Hampshire, the two lead-off voting states.
South Carolina Democrats held a conference call last week about Clinton coming, but no confirmation on a visit here came out of the discussion.
“We firmly expect to see Secretary Clinton in South Carolina some time soon,” said Charleston County Democratic Party Chairman Brady Quirk-Garvan. “South Carolina is a vital state for anyone who wants to be the Democratic nominee.”
The National Rifle Association is holding it’s annual leadership gathering in Nashville, Tenn., drawing lots of Republicans with presidential designs.
As The New York Times is reporting, most serious GOP candidates have been graded with high scores when it comes to Second Amendment issues, with none scoring less than an A-. So there won’t be much fighting on that point.
But what stands out is the count of who has the biggest single collection of firearms. The winner: U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., with 12.
Compiled by Post and Courier political reporter Schuyler Kropf.