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Former VP Mike Pence returns to SC with stops in North Charleston, Myrtle Beach

Election 2024 Republicans

Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition on Nov. 18, 2022, in Las Vegas. John Locher/AP

Former Vice President Mike Pence will meet with North Charleston Police Chief Reggie Burgess when he travels to South Carolina next week for a law enforcement roundtable in a city that was once at the center of a national reckoning over police violence against African Americans.

The Feb. 6 visit, which was announced by Pence’s political action committee Feb. 3, puts Pence back in a key presidential primary state that has been attracting a steady stream of Republican contenders and could-be candidates.

Additional details about the visit were not immediately disclosed but he will also be traveling to Horry County, a GOP stronghold, later in the day.

"I look forward to collaborating with the vice president and local law enforcement leaders to talk about issues facing police," Burgess said in a provided statement to The Post and Courier.

Pence's return to South Carolina comes nine days before former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will formally announce her 2024 presidential campaign, and 10 days before U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., kicks off his "Faith in America" tour in Charleston. Scott is another potential GOP 2024 contender.

For Pence, the Feb. 6 visit is his ninth trip to the early primary state since he left office.

According to his political action committee, Pence is planning two stops in the Palmetto State: a roundtable in the afternoon in North Charleston with law enforcement officials amid "renewed calls to defund the police," followed by a meet-and-greet in the evening with business and civic leaders in Myrtle Beach.

The roundtable and its description suggests Pence will focus in part on renewed efforts by Congress to pass police reform legislation after five officers were accused of killing 29-year-old Tyre Nichols in Memphis last month.

North Charleston endured a similar incident in the not-so-distant past.

On April 4, 2015, Walter Scott was fatally shot by Michael Slager, a White North Charleston police officer, after he fled on foot following a traffic stop over a broken brake light.

After a cellphone video of the shooting was released to the public, disproving the initial police narrative about how Scott had died, Slager was charged federally and in state court in the killing.

In May 2017, Slager pleaded guilty in federal court to civil rights violations and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Last year, North Charleston recently formed a Police and Community Committee. The group is tasked with working alongside law enforcement to implement the recommendations made from the city’s 2021 racial bias audit.

The report, compiled by Virginia-based firm CNA, found disparities in a number of police practices, including traffic stops, use of force, arrests and field interviews.

Sen. Scott, who has led GOP efforts on police reform in the Senate, is not scheduled to attend the roundtable at this time, his office confirmed. Like Pence, Scott is privately weighing whether to mount a 2024 Republican presidential bid.

According to an annual report from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the murder rate in the state is at its highest level since 1991.

Reach Caitlin Byrd at 843-998-5404 and follow her on Twitter @MaryCaitlinByrd.

Senior Politics Reporter

Caitlin Byrd is the senior politics reporter at The Post and Courier. An award-winning reporter, Byrd previously worked as an enterprise reporter for The State newspaper, where she covered the Charleston region and South Carolina politics.

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