Spirit of Strom Thurmond carries Biden to Baghdad

Vice President Joe Biden steps off a C-17 military transport plane upon his arrival in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday. Biden arrived in Baghdad on a visit intended to help Iraqi leaders resolve a political crisis that has hindered efforts to defeat the Islamic State group.

When Vice President Joe Biden landed in Baghdad last week for a surprise visit to Iraq, he made the trip on a Charleston-based C-17 cargo jet aptly named the Spirit of Strom Thurmond.

Photos of Biden exiting the plane clearly show the markings of the 437th and 315th airlift wings from Joint Base Charleston.

The particular airplane he rode was christened for Thurmond, R-S.C. — one of the nation’s longest-serving U.S. senators — in 2002.

Despite being on different political aisles, Biden, a Delaware Democrat, and Thurmond, were close friends in the Senate. Biden even delivered the eulogy at Thurmond’s 2003 funeral.

“So I say, Farewell, Mr. Chairman. We stand in adjournment until we meet again,” Biden said as a goodbye to his Judiciary Committee colleague.

Biden was in Baghdad to help resolve a government political crisis that has hindered efforts to fight the Islamic State terror group. The plane was manned by a 315th crew, the Air Force said.

Politico magazine released its survey of reporters who worked the 2016 primary campaign trail and South Carolina came off the best of all the early voting states.

South Carolina was tops among respondents as being the favorite/least favorite states to cover, with nobody giving the state bad marks. Iowa received the most negative votes.

Charleston was voted “the best food on the trail” spot, with FIG being the most-mentioned restaurant.

Manchester, N.H., was voted the worst food town.

As the one-year anniversary of the Emanuel AME Church shooting approaches, members of a gun reform group plans to descend on the Statehouse in mid-May to tell lawmakers they want to see the “Charleston loophole” and other loose gun laws fixed.

The Hands Around the Statehouse rally is set for May 12 at 11 a.m.

Supporters from Project Unity USA are asking attendees to bring three friends or family members. The attire is a white T-shirt over a dress shirt, writing the words “Two Die in SC Every Day” on the back with a thick marker.

“Wear the name of a victim you know, or of an Emanuel AME victim,” their announcement said. Signs are encouraged.

The group plans to form a human hand-link around the Statehouse and meet with lawmakers.

Gun law reformers want the gun purchase waiting period extended from three to 28 days if needed to complete background checks. The loophole was cited as the way accused Emanuel AME shooter Dylann Roof was able to purchase a gun when he legally shouldn’t have been allowed to.

Gov. Nikki Haley, who jetted to Washington on Thursday to testify before a House Homeland Security Committee against sending Guantanamo Bay detainees to South Carolina, didn’t stick around for the raucous White House Correspondents’ Association dinner on Saturday — despite an invitation.

The high-flying event includes many celebrities, media executives and is headlined by the president.

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It was the second prestigious event of the week the Haley declined. The second-term governor also sent her regrets for the TIME 100 gala held Tuesday evening in New York. Haley was named one of the 100 most influential people of the year.

Her office said key legislative movements during the pivotal week in the Statehouse kept her in Columbia, as well as a preference to spend time with her family.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, but on Daniel Island it also takes a couple politicians.

State Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Charleston, who was volunteering as a crossing guard Monday, is being credited with saving some youngsters from being hit when a van crashed into a SUV at the intersection of Pierce Street and Daniel Island Drive.

Berkeley County School Board member Mac McQuillin, who was also volunteering, said he had just ushered some children across the intersection and Grooms had stopped another group.

“Fortunately, there were no children in the crosswalk at the time, as they were being held back and waiting to cross by Sen. Grooms,” McQuillin said. “If not for him, they might have been involved.”

There were no injuries in the accident.

Community volunteers carrying bright orange flags have escorted students across the busy intersection for the last couple of weeks, ever since a minor incident involving a child on a skateboard.

Schuyler Kropf, Gavin Jackson and Brenda Rindge contributed to this report.