MOUNT PLEASANT — Republican congressional candidate Katie Arrington brought her personal journal with her Monday to her first campaign stop since she was seriously injured in a head-on collision last month.

She gripped it as television reporters approached her wheelchair to clip microphones to her white dress before she spoke at the East Cooper Republican Club lunch at the Hilton Garden Inn.

She moved her right hand and glanced down at the three words embossed on the black hardback journal's cover: "Make It Happen."

"She's campaigning every day starting today," said Andrew Boucher of Charleston, who has been acting as a general consultant for Arrington in her congressional run.

She received a standing ovation from about 75 members of the GOP club who welcomed her back. Arrington urged them to sit down.

"I feel so silly because usually I'm so energetic, but now I don't know what to do being somewhat captive in my own seat. Please sit down, oh my gosh," the Summerville state lawmaker told the crowd.

She then joked, "I'm not getting up anytime soon."

Arrington, who is vying to represent Charleston and the Lowcountry in Washington, was in the hospital for two weeks after a June 22 car crash on U.S. Highway 17 near Adams Run. 

With an air cast on her right leg and a red, white and blue hard cast on her left leg, Arrington spoke for about nine minutes from a typed two-page statement.

She thanked supporters and urged Republicans to stand together, while admitting she ran as "an outsider in my own party." She then took aim at her Democratic opponent, Joe Cunningham, and veered into policy positions, specifically her stance on offshore drilling.

In a Beaufort League of Women Voters forum earlier this year, Arrington said she supported President Donald Trump lifting the ban on offshore drilling but has since said she is against drilling off South Carolina's coast.

"Let me be clear, I do not support drilling for oil off of South Carolina's coast," she said, repeating it twice.

Asked after the meeting why she did not support a state resolution opposing offshore drilling, Arrington said there were other things holding her attention in the Statehouse at the time.

"Plus, what's a resolution going to do?" she said.

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Reached later, Cunningham pushed back on Arrington's comments and accused her of changing her political tune on offshore drilling.

"During her primary, Representative Arrington told supporters on camera she supported President Trump's decision to lift the ban on offshore oil drilling," he said in a statement. "She even criticized Congressman Sanford for opposing drilling off our coast. Now, during the general election, she wants to take a completely different position. This is why people are fed up with politics. My position has never changed."

Though Arrington is still recuperating from her injuries, her support team said she will be campaigning however she can, which will include calling backers, party leaders and coalitions.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., has already promised to campaign on Arrington's behalf in September. Her campaign spokesman Michael Mulé said other big-name Republicans could be coming to the 1st District for Arrington, as well, but details are still being confirmed.

Arrington's next scheduled campaign stop in the district is Wednesday, when she travels to the Beaufort County Republican Party meeting.

It will be the first time since the crash that she will drive past the site where the accident happened.

Reach Caitlin Byrd at 843-937-5590 and follow her on Twitter @MaryCaitlinByrd.

Political Reporter

Caitlin Byrd is a political reporter at The Post and Courier and author of the Palmetto Politics newsletter. Before moving to Charleston in 2016, her byline appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times. To date, Byrd has won 17 awards for her work.

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