Below is a transcript of the first Republican gubernatorial debate with Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, Gov. Henry McMaster, former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill, Catherine Templeton and John Warren at Clemson University's Brooks Center for the Performing Arts on May 23, 2018. Charles Bierbauer moderated the debate and questioned the candidates along with South Carolina ETV's Gavin Jackson and The Post and Courier's Andy Shain.
Henry McMaster: Thank you, Mr. Bierbauer, Mr. Shane, Mr. Jackson, we're delighted to be here with you. Ladies and gentlemen, news on television, I'm very proud to be your governor. It's the proudest thing that I've done. And come this election, it'll be four years. I've served as lieutenant governor and governor, and I've got a record that I'm proud of, and I hope we'll get to talk about it tonight. And also, I'm very proud to having been endorsed by what I think will be one of the greatest presidents in the history of this country, and that's Donald Trump. He came here to campaign for me. He's endorsed me, he's helping me, and I appreciate it, and I look forward to working with him in the future. In fact, that's one reason that he's endorsed me, 'cause he and I see things a lot alike. Right now, there's the difference between me and these others. That is I have a record, and a lot of these candidates seem to see something wrong with South Carolina. They see all the bad. Well, I see the good, and I see 20,000 new jobs since I've been in office, and $6 billion in investment, and you don't fire the coach and put in a rookie when your team is winning. You give that coach a new contract and you keep on winning, and that's what I want you to do on June 12th, thank you.
Catherine Templeton: Thank you. I'm Catherine Templeton. You know, where I come from, we show up when people need help, and I'm one of the first people that Governor Nikki Haley asked to help her make it a great day in South Carolina. I can't unsee what I saw in Colombia, but I can undo it. I'm a Conservative outsider who's never run for office, but I did stand with Governor Haley for four years while we fought the entrenched bureaucrats who were spending your money, the corrupt good old boys who were taking your money, and the Liberal Democrats who just want more of your money. In fact, I know enough now about all the games they play to be dangerous to those snakes in the swamp. Maybe that's why when President Trump called me to Trump Tower, his team called me a triple threat. Or maybe it's because I'm a mother and a fighter, and I can't be bought. I want you to come with me as we take a buzzsaw to the corruption in Colombia, and we make it a great day in South Carolina once again.
John Warren: Good evening, I'm John Warren. I'm a businessman, a Conservative, and a Marine, and what I am not is a career politician, a government insider, or a lawyer. I'm running because we live in the greatest state in the country, and what makes us so great are our people. Our people are hardworking, they're honest, they're God fearing, and they're Conservative. And when you look at what is produced in Colombia, it is the opposite of our great state. I'm running because this race comes down to leadership. And in my experience in leading Marines in combat, and growing a very successful business, leadership comes down to a person's core values, their core competencies, and whether or not they have courage. My core values, I'm a true Conservative. I believe in business sense, common sense, and service. And in terms of my core competencies, I've led a lot of combat missions, I've been successful in growing a very large business, and we need someone with business experience to go down to Colombia. And finally, we need someone with courage to take on the special interests, and that's me.
Yancey McGill: Thank you, Dean. I would first start by saying go Tigers. We're right here in the heart of the Tigers, and I can tell you I wanna take that quick moment to say that. I had two daughters to graduate right here from Clemson University. I would just like to share with you, this is a very important election not to be taken lightly. I will tell you that any of these that are on this stage are more than qualified to be the next governor of this state. Any and all. And I also will tell you this, that the future holds true in our state. We've enjoyed a good credit review. We're a double-A triple-A credit rated state. We only one out of eight out of 50 states, one out of eight that we have a double-A triple-A credit rating, and it's because of people who've been fiscally responsible in making this happen. I will tell you that very quickly that it is important to talk about our senior citizens. They need all the help that they can have. I can also tell you the youth of this state, they have got to be included and brought in to the process.
Kevin Bryant: Thank you, Charles. Thank you everyone who came tonight. Thank you for those viewing on TV. I'm Kevin Bryant and I am a small business owner. I'm a health care provider. I'm a registered pharmacist, so Charles, I'm the bottom of the barrel up here. You got a politician and a drug dealer, but I also have a record, a crystal clear Conservative record, promoting your liberty and protecting your wallet. I have filibustered tax hikes. I have filibustered debt bombs, and I have filibustered bills that encroach on your personal liberty. We're gonna hear tonight a lot about Planned Parenthood funding and I will tell you the budget now contains funding for Planned Parenthood. I wrote the plan that failed in the Senate, but that passed the House, and I hope we'll hear tonight that if, from all of my friends to my left, that if this budget has one single penny going to Planned Parenthood, it will get a veto. When I announced, they asked if I'm running to the right, and my answer was then as it is now. I am the right. Thank you, Charles.
Q: Let me address the first question, starting with Ms. Templeton, and I wanna ask you about the VC Summer nuclear plant. If the legislators in Columbia leave this complex of issues unsettled regarding the VC Summer abandoned nuclear plant and SCE&G and Santee Cooper, and it appears they just may leave it unsettled, and you take office in January, what's your main goal, and what's your first step, in your case Governor McMaster, what do you do now?
Catherine Templeton: Thank you. Well, first of all, if I had been your governor a year and a half ago when this happened, or maybe even when the law that the government passed to actually take our money and put it in the pocket of special interest monopolistic private companies like SCANA, I might have found it unconstitutional like our current Attorney General, or as your governor, I would get your money back. And now after Governor McMaster has been there for a year and a half and was the Attorney General when this happened, there's been not one, but two legislative sessions and nothing has moved. We don't have our money back. They're still taking our money, and we're throwing it into two holes in the ground while Governor McMaster has taken money from the very executives who are trying to pay more to dividends to their shareholders while whining about going bankrupt. If I were the governor, Charles, I would make sure that the people of South Carolina were taken care of first, that we could pay for our light bill, and that special interest lobbyists weren't taking money from us.
John Warren: The VC Summer project is a disaster, and ultimately, Santee Cooper is a huge problem for taxpayers. We've lost $4 billion. The number one thing I've called for is the firing of the board. Both of my competitors to my left have taken money. Governor McMaster has taken $115,000 from SCANA, Santee Cooper, and Dominion in contributions. Mrs. Templeton has taken $15,500 from just Santee Cooper. We have to have someone that can't be bought by special interests. I would fire the board. I would bring in a competent board. I would do a forensic audit, because I'd like to know where the money went. That's our taxpayer dollars. I would prevent one dollar more from ratepayers being paid for a nuclear project that is never gonna come online. I would bring in an investment bank to tell us how much it's worth, and that's what a business person would do. We need real Conservative business solutions to complex problems, and that's what I'll do as governor.
Yancey McGill: One of our worst financial disasters in South Carolina and the taxpayers that are seated in this room and the taxpayers that are looking from home, you're having to foot the bill. I will tell you this. I don't know of anybody in this room that had a personal note at the bank where the state went in and signed the collateral or the equity to be secured by the taxpayers of this state. I will simply tell you this. Decisions have to be made early and they have to be made quick. When we will remember the Senate. A bill was passed around, which was asking for co-authors to sign this into legislation, guaranteeing payment of that debt. We looked at it, very quickly realized it was not the thing to do, so we ended it. Did not sign it nor did we support it when it finally came for a vote.
Kevin Bryant: Thank you, Charles. This $9.4 billion disaster is because of government involvement, and that just tells you where we are right now. 40 percent of the responsibility of that is a state agency, Santee Cooper. Last fall, I called a removal of the whole board of Santee Cooper. Here's what they've done. They've run up the taxpayer a debt totaling $7 billion. There are 40 percent responsible for this $9.4 billion disaster. Yet you know what this board did? The CEO of this board receives, get this, $800,000 a year in retirement. That is absurd. Once we get out of this mess, we need free markets, we need consumer choice. A free market with consumer choice always gets you a better product at a lower cost. States like Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida have consumer choice with their utilities, and that's what we need here in South Carolina.
Henry McMaster: Well, what I was doing as Attorney General back then was prosecuting domestic violence, prosecuting sexual predators, prosecuting gangs, and suing the Obama administration over Obamacare. There's been mention that we oughta fire the whole board. You if you want to ruin a company, you want to ruin an entity, you fire the whole board. That's not the way to do it. Your credit rating will go to zero and we have to have a good credit rating. Well, what I did do is fire the chairman, 'cause they wouldn't give us information. I'm the man, I'm the person who saw to it that we got the information. I made them release the Bechtel Report, that opened the door. I gave them the information about the bonuses being paid by Santee Cooper to SCANA. That's outrageous. I've made it clear that those ratepayers, those customers must get every cent back and not pay a penny more. And I told the Legislature if they pass a law that does anything but cut that rate to zero, I'm gonna veto it, and I mean it. That is a rogue agency. Santee Cooper is a rogue agency and we gonna come out of this for us why I've called for the sale of Santee Cooper.
Q: The governor's office in South Carolina has limited powers, but many of you are making broad promises to voters outside the limits of what the governor's office can do. Within the constraints of the governor's office, what are you going to do to improve South Carolina?
John Warren: That's a great question. Often times I get asked a very similar question, which is, John, we love your platform. How are you gonna get any of that accomplished? And what I say is, you have to have a realistic expectation of what you can accomplish and when. And the way Courtney and I look at it, my wife, we look at it as an eight year deployment to fight a political insurgency down in Columbia that is ultimately attacking the taxpayers. And the first thing that we will do is take on the state agencies that the governor can control. There's 16 state agencies out of the 110 that the governor can control. We would task an outside auditor with two basic things. First, how do we improve customer service? And, how do we improve efficiencies? Then we would apply that same measure across all 110 state agencies. And then finally, we have to take out some of the legislators who are betraying Conservative principles, people like Hugh Leatherman. I will find quality candidates to run against them. I will help them get financing, and then I will campaign with them to change all of the legislature so that we can get Conservative reforms passed like term limits.
Yancey McGill: Thank you. This state is no different from any of the other states. You've gotta have an executive that can lead, but that can deal with the Senate and House of this state who were elected by their very own voters. I can tell you now, I have seen executives that fully understood how to put the 170 votes together the 124 in the house and the 46 in the Senate. If you don't have the ability of leading on issues that are major importance, you're in the wrong business. I can tell you this, that we can put the votes together, we can lead. Generally, you have to have a meeting before the meeting. You've got to meet with these folks and help them to understand why. What is really the best thing in the interest of the taxpayers of this state? For us –
Kevin Bryant: Thank you for the question, Andy. We are known nationally as the legislative state. We have the strongest legislature in the country and the weakest executive branch that has been a breeding ground for corruption, and that's probably one of the big reasons why we have this ongoing corruption probe. Our Founders envisioned three distinct branches of government, the legislature, the judicial branch, and the executive branch. Now, how do you, how do you change that? You bring the message to the taxpayer. I was a member of the South Carolina Senate when the there was a bill that would put the DOT as a cabinet level agency under the governor, so the taxpayers of this state know who to hold accountable. This was in 2008, and the roads are far more on the minds of the taxpayers now than they were then, but when you take the message to the taxpayer, we had that vote. We only failed by one vote. So, I will continue as your governor to take the message to the taxpayer, and then the legislature will respond.
Henry McMaster: Well, I'll do, Mr. Bierbauer, is to obtain more of the same. The president wanted troops at the border. I sent troops to the border. We have the best National Guard in the United States. They're on the border now with helicopters. We needed someone to help patrol the prisons, around the perimeters, to keep the illegal cell phones from going in, and I got the State Guard to do it, and they're doing it right now. I saw we had a toothless sanctuary city law, so we're about to pass another, and that'll happen as soon as the legislature gets back. And what we'll do, is we will not have sanctuary cities in South Carolina, but we will have trained law officers in schools to keep the children safe. I'm gonna cut taxes. I aim to cut $2.2 billion the first go around, and also no income tax at all on law enforcement officers, first responders, peace officers, and the retired military. No money to Planned Parenthood, no money to able-bodied people, and ladies and gentlemen, I helped get the law passed finally that allows the governor to appoint the superintendent of education. And we will revolutionize education in South Carolina.
Catherine Templeton: Yeah I'm the only one here running for governor who was actually worked in the executive branch and actually has a record of accomplishment. You know, the liberal media called me a buzz saw, because I earned it. I moved out over a hundred entrenched bureaucrats off of our payroll. Saved over $68 million in one agency in just a year and a half of the taxpayer's dollars, went three for three against President Obama's administration and won, and brought 7,500 Boeing jobs to South Carolina families. You know, the education of our state and the roads of our state are two of the biggest problems in the state, and the governor's not in charge of those. So, those are two of the things that we have to put under the executive branch, but let me tell you what I'm gonna do when I go to Columbia. I'm gonna take a bigger blade with my buzzsaw. When I was in charge of, when I worked with Governor Haley. I, see, I kept the state safe, from Ebola, nuclear meltdown, illegal immigrants. In fact, wrote the bill for sanctuary city. It's why we don't have any in South Carolina. We made sure that our elderly were not abused, that our kids were not starved, and we made ‑
Q: State agency budget requests consistently show important and critical needs in the state are underfunded, such as transportation infrastructure, the underfunded base student cost, and prison security issues just to name a few. Is it proactive to rally against a gas tax increase and also cut taxes when there are so many critical needs that are underfunded in South Carolina?
Yancey McGill: Good question. First order of business, we have got to look for the answers with all of these agencies. In my opinion DOT is a Washington money. They were Washington money before the gas tax went in place. If you ride down these highways today, you're still hitting mega potholes that are tearing the people's vehicles up, including mine. And I can tell you that that's where the auditing needs to come in. We estimated some 80 to 85 state agencies, and research said it was 110 agencies. We need to disclose to the public where the money is situated on each shelf, with each agency. I'm telling you now, you don't have a double-A triple-A credit rating in a state that is broke. This state has plenty of money, and I'm telling you, you're hearing it tonight. We need to disclose, there needs to be transparency, and let the public know exactly what's going on, and we gonna do that.
Kevin Bryant: Thank you for the question, Gavin. It just depends on where your commitment is. Is your commitment to growing government, or is your commitment to the taxpayers of this state? The gas tax was the highest tax increase in South Carolina history. The problem is not the funding. The funding has doubled in the last 10 years. The problem is the accountability. Here again the Department of Transportation needs to be a cabinet-level agency under the governor. If you had a hole in a bucket, and it was running out of water with you continuing pouring water into the bucket, or would you fill the hole first? We've got to maintain this commitment to protecting the taxpayers and not growing government, and we've got to reform the DOT, and as governor I will make sure that happens, so you know who took hold accountable. The roads are great when you go to Florence, because that's where the legislature power is, and it'll change to another region as time goes by. The DOT needs to make decisions based on public safety and traffic flow statewide instead of politics and cronyism, which we have too much of that now.
Henry McMaster: Yeah, we are underfunded in some places. I say we have a six-foot bed and the four foot blanket. You pull it off of one and it goes, you pull it off one, and it goes to the other, but the Highway Department, the Department of Transportation is a good example. The lieutenant governor is right. There was plenty of money coming in on the gas tax. It was hundreds of millions of dollars coming in. The problem is it wasn't being spent on roads, and that that was spent on roads, wasn't being spent on the right roads, and that's why I vetoed it. It is the highest ga-, it was the highest tax in South Carolina history. I'm not gonna let taxes go up. I wanna take them down, like they're doing in North Carolina, and like they just did in Georgia That's where the competition is. And now, I have the authority under the new law, to remove highway commissioners, Department of Transportation commissioners who are not following to the priorities set by the engineers and others, and I promise you I'll remove them. And also, I've just started an audit of the county transportation committees where a lot of the money goes and is misspent. We will clean that up, I promise you.
Catherine Templeton: You know, I used to rotate shifts. That was my first job out of school, and I know the value of a long day's work and a hard earned dollar. And, I also got to watch on the front row all the waste and corruption that's costing us money in Columbia in government. And so, what I will do when I'm your governor is I will cut the most egregious tax in South Carolina, which is the tax on people who actually go to work, income tax, by two percent, tomorrow. And, we don't even have to cut spending, because that's how much money there is in Columbia. So then, after we cut that tax two percent, we're gonna cut the spending. We're gonna cut the budget I have actually been accountable for the budgets in South Carolina. I actually understand them, and I know that when you take a buzz saw to something, you take it to wasteful programs, not the vital programs. Like Yancey said, we have plenty of money in South Carolina. It's a matter of prioritizing it to safety, education, infrastructure. We have a healthcare debt and a burden on our people that we have got to take care of immediately. It's just math.
John Warren: I'm a small business owner, and I know how hard it is to make money, make profit, and employ people, and we should not be penalizing the small business owners. Liberals will have us believe that the problem to everything is we're not spending enough money, but that's not the case. You can look at the DOT. You can look at our education system. We have plenty of money coming in. What we actually need to do is get rid of the special interest loopholes. If we did that with our taxes, we could cut the income tax and the sales tax by half. That would stimulate tons of economic job opportunities. With the DOT specifically, we brought out an accountability plan. And what it calls for is getting rid of the bureaucracy within the DOT. We need to get rid of the DOT Commission. We need to get rid of the state Infrastructure Bank, and we need to require a five-year strategic plan, so that all of the state's roads have a clear plan of when they're gonna get paved, and what's the priority based on usage, not based on, which senator is sitting on the DOT Commission. And as governor, that's what I'll do.
Q: South Carolina has prospered through the presence of BMW and Boeing and a multitude of tire manufacturers and other corporations that to some degree have landed here through the efforts of previous governors. So, if you are governor, name an economic target that if elected, you would work to bring to South Carolina.
Kevin Bryant: Thank you, Charles, I appreciate that question. The economic target is the taxpayers of this state. When you have to give someone incentives to come into South Carolina, you're admitting right there that your taxes are too high. If we can cut or eliminate the income taxes, they will flock to South Carolina. My commitment is to the pockets of the taxpayers, because they're getting taxed to death, and if we cut those taxes, and the best way we can spur economic development and spur our economy, is to leave money in your pockets, the taxpayers, where you spend it, how you see best, not government taking it and spending it for you on behalf of the tax collectors and the trough dwellers and the special interest in Colombia.
Q: What corporation would you wanna talk about then?
Kevin Bryant: We gotta give these incentives until we can get there, but eventually once we eliminate the income tax, they'll come on their own.
Henry McMaster: Well, the Department of Commerce of course has a number of targets. One that we did land not too long ago with Samsung and they were thrilled with the people. And I have to tell the people out there the reason they're coming here. We have a lot of reasons why they come in, but the main reason is because the people of South Carolina. They say we if someone from South Carolina gives you their word and shakes your hand, they'll keep it, and that's why they're coming, but we need to concentrate to continue to build on a manufacturing base. That's when we build things in South Carolina. We built a brand new BMW every 61.7 seconds and with the expansion that's coming up soon, it'll go down to 45 seconds. Samsung is one of the most innovative high-tech industries in the whole world and they're here. All these people are coming here. The problem that we have is in workforce development. We've got the best technical college system in the whole world, but we can't get the people through there fast enough. So, I'm concentrating on making that transition from shop in high school, those kind of common-sense programs through the technical colleges, and on through apprenticeships into those manufacturing businesses. There's big money, they have big paychecks.
Catherine Templeton: You know, Governor Haley woke the world up to what a wonderful place South Carolina is. She brought in all this resource and all this talent for South Carolina, and I was one of the business people standing behind her, backing up what she was selling. But right now in South Carolina it is easier to sit on the couch and collect welfare than to take one of the 60,000 open jobs that we have. In the history of this state, we have the lowest number of people who actually want to work. We're making it too expensive to go to work. And so, my target won't be another company necessarily, as much as it will be to make sure that our people, our children are prepared, our citizens get our jobs that we brought to South Carolina to lift them up, that we make sure that our technical schools have what they need, that our high schools ... Let's just bring shop back to high school. You know, my grandfather was a plumber. Did really well by five kids, and we need to stop selling to every child that they've gotta go to college. We have jobs open for you now and that will be the target when I'm your governor.
John Warren: When I came out of the Marine Corps, I interviewed for a lot of jobs, and I was told sorry you don't have the necessary real-world experience. So what did I do? I started a company. I'm the only one on this stage that has actually created hundreds of jobs. I am the one that knows how the economy runs, because I hope to run it, and it's run in the private sector. When you talk about bringing jobs to South Carolina, there are two ways to do that. Number one, it's recruiting companies, and we need to continue to recruit companies. It's amazing that we have Michelin, Boeing, BMW coming here and we need to continue that, but also we need to help the companies that actually start here, companies like mine, and hundreds and thousands of others throughout the state. I was with someone the other day. He was a native of South Carolina. He said the one regret that he had was that he started his company in South Carolina. And that's sad, because he didn't get any incentives. Had he moved his company here, he would have gotten all the incentives. So, what we need to do, we need to level the playing field, make sure all of the South Carolinians that start a job here are encouraged to do so, and that will create jobs stimulation.
Yancey McGill: Department of Commerce would lobby it. They are doing a wonderful job. I can tell you that at one time, the southeast lived in fear of South Carolina, and then it fell off, executive by executive, and I can tell you that we're back. I can also tell you that if you expect industry to come into South Carolina, you've got to go and recruit, with the executives to bring them in. Corporate South Carolina has got to be fair with the existing industries. We can't give all the money to BMW, and all the money to the other areas, Boeing and many others. We've got to share it. We gotta make sure that incentives are there for all businesses 200 jobs, 400 jobs. Picture a 500 job industry that located over in Spartanburg. Toray, we recruited Toray. I was part of an economic alliance, but we recruited Tory, which is a billion dollar investment, 500 jobs, big paying jobs, taking this land in South Carolina. We had them recruited.
Q: South Carolina does not have a hate crime law on its books. That's the kind of law that would stiffen penalties for crimes that occur because of someone's gender, someone's race, religion, sexual orientation. Do you support the idea of adding a hate crime law to the books?
Henry McMaster: I think we have enough hate crime laws. Those things are hard to define. People forget that we have so many laws. It's getting to where we are criminalizing things that are not even crimes. I look at what's going on in the universities, for example. You can hardly express your own opinion, exercising the First Amendment, without getting carried into some sort of court and being held accountable on some spacious sort of sensitivity that nobody really ever even understood years ago as being other than just expressing your own opinion. We have laws on the books, and I've helped get a lot of them on there, for gangs, for domestic violence, for financial crimes. I don't think we have a problem with our laws. What we have is a problem, is we need more economic strength and development in South Carolina. A thriving economy that is creating abundance is much better than trying to manage scarcity. We've been managing scarcity. I know how to create abundance to help companies come here that will provide jobs for people and I wanna do that.
Catherine Templeton: First, we have to treat criminals like criminals. We have to make sure that those that we are already putting in jail don't have their cell phone to call their buddies so that they can escape. We have to jam the cellphones no matter what the federal government tells us to do, and the bureaucrats and the cellphone lobbyists. We have to make sure that the prisoners who are there serve their entire sentences, so they don't come out, and you know as we had happen in Charleston, abuse one of our mothers and take one of our children. We have to make sure that we actually execute the people on death row who have already been tried and convicted, swiftly and finally. That's why I have asked Walt Wilkins to help me as my lieutenant governor. He worked as US Attorney. He has put gangs in jail. He has put, he's deported more illegal immigrants than anyone in the history of the state. He's put more criminals in jail than any other solicitor, and he's also dealt with Islamic terrorists as well as corrupt politicians. And those might be, you know, one in the same, so it's very important that first we get under control what, the safety in South Carolina.
John Warren: Well, when you mention Islamic terrorism, I think I'm probably pretty qualified to talk about Islamic terrorism as I've done over 300 missions as a combat leader in the Marine Corps. What we have in South Carolina is a responsibility to protect our citizens. As governor, I will do that. I treat being governor as being the commander in chief of the state. And I ask you, who on this stage do you want to protect you when your life is in danger? You need a Marine. Instead of worrying about the hate crimes, we need to enforce the current legislation that is already on the books. We need to prosecute them vehemently. We need to lock them up, and we need to make sure that they're not gonna do more harm. One problem that we do have that is starting throughout the state is illegal gang activity, and that is why I have put forth a plan that calls for anyone being arrested for gang activity having their immigration status checked. We don't have sanctuary cities. We need to make sure that we don't have illegal gang activity as well.
Yancey McGill: Across South Carolina, down on the coast it's a horrible problem, in Myrtle Beach, a lot of the areas all over the state, and I can tell you the biggest problem that we have is we have got to invest more in the children of this state. We have got to invest more. If we don't start early with the young children, then what will the dysfunctional opportunity be for that individual? I'm told some 80 percent of those that are in prison today come from dysfunctional homes. Think about it. We have got to invest in our young children, and we have got to make sure that the investment is K through 12, but also eventually when they get in at college level. Not all children will be going to regular college. They may be going to a regular technical college, and they will acquire the skills that they need where they won't be looking in a negative way.
Kevin Bryant: Thank you, Andy. This notion about hate crimes is nothing more than a liberal agenda to violate free speech and to trample on people's religious liberties, so I will not support any sort of hate crimes. And also, I'd like to mention, what kind of crime is not a hate crime? So that's just, that's just an issue that really is coming from the left to trample on religious liberty. But, I will tell you about the record that I have by serving in the South Carolina Senate. South Carolina now has on the books that a child rapist goes to death row. I offered that amendment. I had to filibuster for several hours, but we got it done. Criminal domestic violence in South Carolina, we did some things that made it just a little bit better, but it did not go far enough. Right now we we have criminal domestic violence degree one, two, and three. Number two is just like Ray Rice beating up his girlfriend half to death in a elevator, and in South Carolina that would be a misdemeanor, and that is a joke, and, we need to stiffen penalties on criminal domestic violence.
Q: Y'all are campaigning on the need for further restrictions on abortions in the state, but South Carolina's child welfare system is not in good shape, going back to underfunding. How can you work to improve the lives of children born, such as those born into poverty and into broken homes?
Catherine Templeton: You know, we are all I believe campaigning on the fact that we would choose life over anything else. I think I can say that we were united in that. You know, I had the opportunity when we were pregnant with our twins. I was told that I had a life threatening blood disorder that was brought on by pregnancy, and then the doctors called us in and said, there's a problem with your twins. We need to run more tests, because one of your children may need to be aborted to save the life of the other. We didn't run any more tests, of course, because our children were God's children for us to protect as long as he would allow us. So, as a mother, not as a politician, as a woman with a huge heart, not as a candidate for governor, I will protect the lives of children all over the state, and do all I can in every rural county and in every metropolitan county, because there's plenty of poverty there to make sure that our South Carolina childrens get a wonderful start.
John Warren: I'm proud to say that I'm 100 percent pro-life. I've always been pro-life. We definitely have to fight for the life of the unborn. We also have to fight for the children that have been born. Part of that is our education system. Our education is ranked 50th. It's dead last in the country. We need to improve our education system. That starts with school choice. We need more school choice. No parent should have to send their child to a failing school, and as governor I will fight for school choice. We also need to make sure that more money gets to the classroom. Liberals will have us believe that again, we have a spending problem. We're not spending enough money, but we spend $13,000 per year per student on K-12 education. The problem is less than half of it actually reaches the classroom. I'd like to mandate that at least 70 percent reaches the classroom, so that we can pay our teachers more. We can have smaller class sizes. We can have better class offerings and provide a world class education to all of our children, and education is the way out of poverty.
Yancey McGill: We are absolutely pro-life. I can tell you the years we spent in the South Carolina Senate. We voted pro-life when a lot of individuals never understood. Biblically speaking you can look at Jeremiah 1:5 and it plainly states that every person in this room, in this state, in this country, and world, that the Lord knew each and every one of us when we were in our mother's womb. That's not to be taken lightly. It was biblical. I'm one of these First Baptists from Kingstree, South Carolina, and I can tell you now that life is to be preserved, but it's also to be taken care of along and along, not just by mom and a daddy, but grandparents, but the communities need to work together in helping children the right focus in the right direction.
Kevin Bryant: Yeah, thank you, thank you for the question. Our Founders, when they wrote the Declaration of Independence, they included rights. The first one they listed was life and they went so far as to say this life is endowed by our Creator, and for far too long government has denied the right to life. That's why I sponsored personhood, and I've been part of every pro-life piece of legislation that's gotten through the General Assembly, but I want to ask this question. This budget that now contains funding for evil organizations like Planned Parenthood, if they don't adopt my plan to defund Planned Parenthood, I wanna know if this budget is going to get vetoed. And if not, there's gonna to be a death warrant written to 6,000 baby girls and baby boys. Thank you.
Henry McMaster: Vetoed and even better than that, I issued an executive order some time ago providing that no tax money, no tax money would go through any state agency, to any abortion clinic or center, or anything connected with such, specifically Planned Parenthood. That is an abomination, and we need to get it out of South Carolina. But, back to the question of what to do about the children. That the answer always, in one way or another in fact going to economic growth and prosperity. We have dysfunctional families in South Carolina. We have children growing up that don't know what a job is. We have parents of those children, some at home, some at not, who don't know what a job is. We can't even get them into the technical colleges to learn about a job, because they don't know what a job is. We got a lot of work to do, but the answer is always cutting taxes like North Carolina and Georgia just did, and like I wanna do, and getting these companies to expand, getting rid of the regulations and let them grow, and that eliminates poverty, and that brings everyone up.
Kevin Bryant: I would just like to say that executive order does not defund Planned Parenthood. It has a Planned Parenthood loophole in it, just read it. It says we're gonna ask the federal government if we can do that. The budget before this state needs to defund any taxpayer dollars going to Planned Parenthood. I don't care if it's for a vitamin C.
Henry McMaster: He's right, we need to do that and I will do that, but also there's another line of defense, and that's to see to it we have to ask permission for some things from the federal government that provides the money and that's what I've done, which I issued the order to seek that exemption and I hope that waiver, and I hope we get it.
Kevin Bryant: My plan does it now. We don't have to wait on the federal government. Let's do it now. Let's not wait on permission from Washington DC.
Catherine Templeton: When I was the public health director of the state of South Carolina, I didn't send any money to Planned Parenthood. I didn't ask anybody's permission for it. We didn't send it. So, we didn't have to worry about the legislature. We didn't have to worry about the federal government. We just did not support Planned Parenthood.
John Warren: Charles, there's one big exception up here. Everyone talks about being pro-life. Pro-life actually means how do you vote as well and Governor McMaster, you support Hugh Leatherman, and Hugh Leatherman you've endorsed him. Hugh Leatherman is the one that is funding Planned Parenthood, and Mrs. Templeton you had voted for Vincent Sheheen. He is a pro-choice liberal anti-gun Democrat. You've also given money to another statewide Democrat, so it's not good enough to just say that we're all pro-life. We actually have to mean it and vote that way.
Q: After the latest school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, President Trump said in essence to the people of Santa Fe, that he would be with them forever, and supportive of them. Critics say of politicians that there's a lot of thoughts and prayers are with you, and a lot of words, and not a lot of actions when it comes to addressing this problem of mass shootings. So, my question to you is, within the power of the governor's office, what beyond the thoughts and prayers are you committed to do to alleviate this fear that it could happen here next?
John Warren: Well, the number one responsibility of any governor is to defend the life of all the citizens in South Carolina, and that's what I will do, and that starts with defending our children. I have two young boys. I have a two year old who's running all over the place, and a four month old, and when they go to school eventually, I want them to be safe. And I think what we need to do, we need to bring Conservative business solutions to this problem. At my company, we have multiple entrances. We don't need all of the entrances to be unlocked, and the first thing that we need to do in our schools is to make it to where there's only one entrance into that school that is open to the public. And then at that station, we need to have an armed guard. That would be a huge deterrent. And if the guns start firing, then that officer will be able to attack the shooter as well. So, that is a real solution to protect our children, and that's what I'll do as governor.
Q: I wanted to add to that question whether you take any money or would take any money from any gun lobbyist.
John Warren: I have not taken any money from any gun lobbyists.
Yancey McGill: I have not taken any money from gun lobbyists, but it goes back to what we are talking about, our schools, our teachers, but especially our children. Safety is most important. You don't put a dollar bill value on a child or a teacher. What you do is we have got to get the security. I've heard it said from the executive branch that our security should be put in every school, but keep in mind, money simply put, you can't spend money you don't have, but we realize that in where there's a problem, you don't just tax to solve that problem. You don't just go and borrow the money to solve that problem. What you have to do is continue growing the economy. Well, this economy is being grown. We need to figure out how to put some of this money in reserves to help us take care a lot of these issues.
Kevin Bryant: Thank You, Charles. The way to stop an active shooter is to shoot back. These shootings don't happen in gun clubs. They happen in gun-free zones. It's just a magnet for these lunatics, and I do know, I do recognize, that there are some mental health problems here, but they do recognize they're going to a gun-free zone when they go shooting up our children. I, pointing back to my record, I sponsored a bill that removed the mandate from school districts that now says the only armed personnel must be a uniformed law enforcement. It removes that mandate, and I think the school districts ought to have more flexibility on the how they protect our children. Another bill I've authored would add flexibility to three of the main funding streams in education. These mandates don't need to come out of Columbia. We have over 80 funding streams for education, but the bill that I've offered would give districts flexibility for school safety.
Q: Have you or would you taken the money, campaign money?
Kevin Bryant: I haven't, but I would welcome it.
Henry McMaster: Well, what I would do is what I've already started doing. I'm the only candidate in our party that has experience in law enforcement having served as Ronald Reagan's United States attorney, first US Attorney picked by Ronald Reagan and also as Attorney General. And what you have to do is a number of things. One, that's why I sent troops to the border, our National Guard to the border to help President Trump stop illegals from coming in. And we a lot of problems in some of those these illegals who come in. Also, I've asked the General Assembly. They didn't give me as much as I wanted, but I asked them to back in January in my State of the State address, asked them to give us some money to help put law enforcement officers, trained certified law enforcement officers in every school in every district in South Carolina. They've put some money in the budget. I hope we're able to get it through, but we need more. But I'm the one that knows how to prosecute. I've been in law enforcement for these years. I understand how these criminals work and we've got to be tough with them. We've got to stand up against them. And by the way, I'm very proud to have the endorsement of the National Rifle Association.
Q: Does that include taking campaign money from them?
Henry McMaster: They haven't sent any. Lobbyists can't send money.
Catherine Templeton: I have not taken any money from the gun lobby. I've also not given money to a statewide Democratic candidate, and I will correct also Governor McMaster. I've actually overseen three class one law enforcement units when I worked for Governor Haley, but most importantly, I'm a mom, and I have a child in public schools in South Carolina in high school. She goes to school a couple of blocks away from one of the highest crime rates in the state of South Carolina and it's terrifying. It's terrifying to put her on the bus. It's terrifying to hear of the active shooter lock downs that happen all the time. School safety is the number one priority for any mother and father in the state of South Carolina, and we have to be realistic about it. We can't shut down our campuses to one entryway. We can't handle all of the mental health. We can't make parents start parenting, but all of those things do need to happen. What we have to do is we have to put an armed highly trained school resource officer on every single solitary campus in the state of South Carolina to make sure that it is safe to go to school.
Q: Earlier I had talked about of course, the limitations on the governor's office, but I'm gonna go ahead and just for the sake of argument, give you some powers. If you could eliminate one state agency you had the power to do that, which one and why?
Yancey McGill: We have streamlined state government, starting when Governor Campbell was governor of this state. In my research says it was 110 years ago. Today, it's about 80, 85 state agencies. Disclosure is gonna be a big part of what I'm about. I can tell you I've learned it when I was in City Council and then became mayor. I'm telling you now that whoever the mayor is sets the agenda. Whoever the governor is can set the agenda. We took and listened to a recent governor, Nikki Haley, that asked for transparency, accountability, in other areas that it needed to be disclosed, and the problem is you can't cut ABCD 'til you find out who retains the purse strings. I'm telling you now, this government can be, this government can be streamlined. I voted for it years ago. And I will just say that good good question, but that has a been an issue in my mind, when.
Kevin Bryant: Andy I could think of several, but you ask for just one. The first one comes to mind is the EOC. Columbia has got to get out of the habit of micro managing the classroom. We've seen No Child Left Behind coming out of Washington apply to every classroom in this country. It's been a disaster. And then we see things like Read To Succeed, a one size fits all plan coming out of Columbia. It's been a disaster. We have got to stop micromanaging the classroom. And then, winning school choice. We have a little bit of school choice in South Carolina. I wrote it. We had a vote to make school choice available to every child in this state. I supported that, but we fell just a few votes short, so I came back. That would have been a touchdown. I came back with what I'll call a field goal, and that is school choice for exceptional needs children, and it's working very well. Here again, I'll repeat myself a lot of times, but I say when you have a free market with consumer choice, you always get a better product at a lower cost, and that works in just about every problem that we have in South Carolina, including education.
Henry McMaster: I don't know if the problem is the agency so much as it is the boards and commissions. They got so many of them, you can't keep keep track of them. What I'd like to do is a lot of the agencies, a lot of the departments that do not answer to the governor, I'd like to have all of them answer to the governor, and there's some that could be combined, and I'd start with with DHEC, Department of Health and Environmental Control. It needs to answer the governor. It doesn't do that now. Department of Natural Resources needs to answer the governor. It doesn't do that. And, Department of Mental Health, it doesn't answer the governor. These agencies, these departments handled very important things in South Carolina. There's a lot of duplication and they're in silos. I issued an executive or some months ago requiring the agencies to report to me, to break down the walls, to communicate with each other, and try to save money and be more efficient. We're trying to have a lot of conversations like Department, the Commission, the Department of the Highway Commission. Transportation, that that's one that needs to answer directly to the governor, but now that I can fire the commissioners, that's gonna make a big difference right there if they don't follow those priorities.
Catherine Templeton: Government is enormous. Let's not start with just one agency that we're gonna get rid of, let's go backwards. How about, what are we gonna keep? We wanna be safe. We want our kids to reach their God given potential. We wanna make a good living and we wanna keep that good living, and right now government is taking that good living. So, the departments that keep us safe, the departments that provide infrastructure, the departments that provide education, those are the ones we keep. Those are the ones we introduce competition into. You know for a decade and a half before Governor Haley plucked me out of oblivion and asked me to come help her. I used to advise fortune 500 companies, so I actually know how we can make our agencies streamlined. And if we have to do it the other way around, I'd start with Senator Leatherman's slush funds. It's not an agency, it's an actual, I don't know what we wanna call it, corrupt Columbia. The slush funds and the matching funds that come from the federal government, and go to Hugh Leatherman and allow him to pay for favors is phenomenal, and I'd be happy to talk to you about all of them if I had about five hours, but we have to make sure that we put the full weight of the governor's hours.
John Warren: Well, you talk about a wish list, and my wish list would start with term limits. And as governor, I would fight hard for that. In terms of running government efficiently, I've been a business owner since 2009 when I started my company, and I am the only one that has successfully created hundreds of jobs and run a P and L statement successfully. I know how to manage things efficiently, and what we need to do is, we need to eliminate certain departments like the DOT Commission, like the state Infrastructure Bank, but what we also need to do is just make some common sense Conservative business solutions to some of these complex problems. One that comes to mind is the prison riots. A real solution to that problem is combining two state agencies, the Department of Corrections with Triple P. If we did that, we would save $2.8 million dollars. And what could we do with that money? We could reinvest it. We could hire more corrections officers. We could pay them more, because right now they start at $25,000 and have 170 percent turnover. And then, we can train them better. That is a real Conservative business solution to these problems.
Q: Is it better to be a political insider who was political experience getting things done, for example, or an outsider who has never been involved in politics and why?
Kevin Bryant: Oh, it can be both. I spent 12 years in the South Carolina Senate. You go through the lobby and mingle with the trough dwellers and the tax collectors, and you find one person that ever accused me of being part of the establishment. I have always, always, looked at every single piece of legislation and say, how does this stab the taxpayer in the back, and normally it did. I would either vote against it, sometimes I'd filibuster, or sometimes I'd admit amend it to make it a little better.
Henry McMaster: It's always good to have experience. If you're hiring somebody to do something important, it's important to have experience, and I have that experience, and I have a record that would demonstrate it. But also through experience, you learn some things. For instance, it's been stated about jamming the cell phones. I need to say for Director Bryan Sterling, it's impossible by that equipment in the United States. It is illegal to do it. So, saying that you're gonna do it anyway is an impossibility. It cannot be bought in the United States. We are working on the prisons. We're working on the schools. We're working on public safety, and the future of South Carolina is great.
Catherine Templeton: As Governor Haley used to say, can't is not an option. You know, in South Carolina, we are defiantly independent, and it's South Carolina's first, and we make sure that we take care of ourselves. I think it is great to be an outsider who has never run for office before, can't be bought, owes no favors, but also has had four years of on the job training. I walked in with Governor Nikki Haley, and we both made sure that it was a transparent efficient, fiscally responsible, Conservative bold state, and I'm looking forward to doing that again.
John Warren: As a Marine, as a business owner, I am the only true Conservative outsider in this race, but what your question comes down to is leadership, and I will bring my core values, which is being a Conservative, being a businessman, believing in service and common-sense to fight the corruption down in Columbia. I'll bring competencies, in terms of running businesses efficiently. And finally, I'll bring courage to fight for the taxpayer, and I'm doing this to make, everyone watching, I'm doing it to make your life better.
Yancey McGill: Thank you. Our local governments, municipalities, and county governments, they have been totally left out a lot of this process. We gonna make it active again. Home rule went in effect in 1975, and I can tell you we need to go back and not grow power per se in the governor's office or in the legislative branch. We need to grow the power backward to people at home. We need to let them make decisions. Keep in mind years ago that a lot of decisions made on budgets, the appropriation was done in the Senate, in the House, in Columbia.