McMaster Faith & Freedom

Gov. Henry McMaster gives a thumbs up to Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski as he thanks him at the 8th annual Faith and Freedom BBQ dinner for supporting the president. Jamie Lovegrove/Staff

ANDERSON — Gov. Henry McMaster warned hundreds of South Carolina Republicans on Monday night not to trust Democrats, even if they seem reasonable in person.

After all, McMaster said, Democrats are on the same team as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

"Our Democratic friends are a lot like dogs," McMaster said, reviving a line from some of his previous campaigns. "One-on-one, they're real nice. But in a pack, they're dangerous." 

With 10 weeks left until Election Day, McMaster was one of several prominent Republicans at U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan's 8th annual Faith and Freedom BBQ fundraiser Monday night cautioning the GOP faithful against growing complacent in the Trump era.

Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and deputy campaign manager David Bossie, who headlined the event together, praised South Carolina as a conservative bulwark against more progressive parts of the country.

Lewandowski recalled Trump's earliest visits to the state, even before he announced his bid for president.

"Donald Trump knew how important South Carolina was," Lewandowski said. "I know how important South Carolina was and is, and it is a place that has delivered time and time and time again for the president. Thank you."

Fretting that Republicans could lose their U.S. House majority in November, Lewandowski said the party should consider the possibility of Pelosi becoming House speaker, California Democrat Maxine Waters taking over the House financial services committee and New York Democrat Jerry Nadler becoming chairman of appropriations.

"If those three things don't motivate you, then I'm going to get the defibrillator out, because it's a scary prospect of what that will do," Lewandowski said. "These are individuals who don't hold the same values that we hold. They're truly running, if you can believe this, on the notion of socialism."

Lewandowski also gave a shout-out to state Rep. Katie Arrington, the Trump-backed Summerville Republican who beat U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford in the GOP primary. She faces Democrat Joe Cunningham in November.

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Joking that Sanford was "out hiking the trail," Lewandowski said he is the type of Republican who needs to be booted from office.

"If you're not on the Trump agenda and you're a Republican, I'm going to find you," Lewandowski said, saying those Republicans "don't deserve" to be in Washington.

McMaster faces state Rep. James Smith, D-Columbia, in November.

A combat veteran and 22-year state legislator, Smith has emphasized his willingness to work across the aisle as part of his underdog bid to become the first Democrat elected to the South Carolina governor's office since 1998.

"Everybody says, 'Well this is a Republican state, so all the Republicans are going to win,'" McMaster told the conservative crowd Monday night. "Don't fall into that trap. We've got to fight hard because most of our Democratic opposition are pretending that they're really Republicans way down deep."

Follow Jamie Lovegrove on Twitter @jslovegrove.

Jamie Lovegrove is a political reporter covering the South Carolina Statehouse, congressional delegation and campaigns. He previously covered Texas politics in Washington for The Dallas Morning News and in Austin for the Texas Tribune.