A record crowd turned out Saturday for the Lowcountry GOP Breakfast Club's monthly meeting to hear from several candidates facing runoff elections on June 22.
Five candidates addressed the standing-room- only crowd of more than 150 supporters that packed Kelly's Barbecue restaurant on Highway 78 in Summerville.
First Congressional District candidates Tim Scott and Paul Thurmond, attorney general candidates Leighton Lord and Alan Wilson and lieutenant governor candidate Bill Connor each addressed the crowd and then answered a handful of questions. Lieutenant governor candidate Ken Ard was at his wife's aunt's funeral in Myrtle Beach.
"I like the idea of a Saturday morning breakfast," said 2nd District Republican Congressman Joe Wilson, in attendance to support his son, Alan Wilson. "You can charge $6.50 a plate instead of $100 for a dinner. It's a good way to reach the people."
The group has been holding meetings at 9 a.m. the second Saturday of every month except July since 2002, and has established itself as a campaign stop for many Republican candidates, said Earl Capps, a group board member and moderator of the breakfast.
Before the program started, the hot topic among attendees was the controversial Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, in which unemployed Manning military veteran Alvin Greene was certified as the winner on Friday. Breakfast organizers distributed copies of a story from msnbc.com.
"I have two words," Capps said of Greene, who is facing a felony obscenity charge. "Opposition research."
There were also other jokes at the expense of the Democrats. Thurmond, referencing Rep. Wilson's famous "You lie!" outburst during President Barack Obama's September 2009 health care speech, got an enthusiastic response when he said, "I didn't know it at the time, but you were right."
During the speeches, the candidates seemed more like they were at a family reunion than a political rally. They talked about their families, their jobs, their endorsements, called each other "friends" and promised not to engage in negative campaigning.
"You know everything about me at this point," Connor told the crowd, while Lord said of his opposition, "You will find we give almost the same answer to most questions."
Thurmond and Scott, who served on Charleston County Council together, talked about how much they respect each other. Scott is vying to become South Carolina's first black Republican congressman since Reconstruction, while Thurmond is the son of a politician who fought for segregation.
"I have tremendous respect for Tim," Thurmond said during his five-minute speech allotment.
Scott later remarked, "I'm not here to beat up on Paul."
Both candidates also urged voters to compare their political records when making a decision in the voting booth.
Scott pointed to a contract of promises on the back of his campaign brochure and asked to be held accountable to it.
"We need people that will set the standard," he said.
Thurmond promised that he is "going to do what I think is right for the people. I will not lose my soul. I believe in being grounded and committed. The best indicator of what a person is willing to do in the future is what that person has done in the past."
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.