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SC Republican Gubernatorial Debate II Transcript, Video

June 12, 2018 - Posted in This Week in South Carolina by Jenna Schiferl

Below is a transcript of the second Republican gubernatorial debate with Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, Gov. Henry McMaster, former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill, Catherine Templeton and John Warren. The debate was hosted at the University of South Carolina’s Drayton Hall on June 5, 2018. Charles Bierbauer moderated the debate and questioned the candidates along with South Carolina Public Radio’s Victoria Hansen and The Post and Courier’s Seanna Adcox.

Opening Statements

Yancey McGill: Thank you, dean. It is a delight to be here at the University of South Carolina, with all of our citizens that are seated here in this auditorium, really is full, if you can't see it and I also can share with you that across this state of South Carolina our citizens are looking and they're tryin' to make absolutely sure what the future will be, the history will be for all of us citizens of South Carolina. It is an honor, it's a delight to be runnin' for governor of South Carolina. I can share with you on the top of my agenda is the funding of this state. I see many of those out here, a lot of our corporate leaders, business leaders that are here tonight, but I will tell you that our funding will the biggest issue over the next four years. We can have our AA, AAA, credit rating. I see a number of pastors here tonight, a number of rabbis that are here tonight as well, and many other religious leaders, but it will be about the future of South Carolina's funding.

John Warren: Good evening, I’m John Warren. I’m a businessman, a conservative and a Marine. What I am not is a career politician, a government insider or a lawyer and I’m runnin' because I love my state and I feel like we have everything going for us as a state except our state government. We have a lotta serious problems out there, and to name a few, we've got Santee Cooper, where we've lost $4 billion as tax payers, our education system continues to be 50th in the country, we are overtaxed, our roads and bridges are crumbling, we're still funding Planned Parenthood and we have got to have a true conservative outsider, someone that has been successful in the private sector to go to Columbia, represent the tax payer and bring solutions to these complex problems and that's what I’m gonna do as governor.

Henry McMaster: Thank you, dean. Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to be here, proud to be serving as your governor. I couldn't be more proud of South Carolina. I’m proud to say there're great things goin' on in our state, just since I’ve been in this office I’ve had the pleasure of announcin' over $6 billion of new capital direct investment and also 20,000 new jobs. I’ve also been able to see that, we're just about to have a ban on sanctuary cities, we're just about to get officers, trained officers in every school and every district to keep the shooters out. Right now, I have sent border, people to the border, troops to the border and Mexico at President Trump's request, also sent 'em to the prisons to keep those cell phones from going in. I’ve cut regulations, gone and cut taxes. I’ve cut the funds to Planned Parenthood by an order and also to able bodied peoples. If that sounds familiar that's because it's the same thing President Trump is doing. That's why he has endorsed me. And, ladies and gentlemen, I say to you, when we're winnin' like this you don't fire the experienced coach and hire a rookie, you give him four more years and keep on winning, winning, winning.

Catherine Templeton: Thank you Charles. I’m Catherine Templeton and where I come from people show up when you need help. I was one of the first people that Governor Nikki Haley asked to help her make it a great day in South Carolina. I’m a conservative outsider who's never run before, but I did stand with Governor Haley for four years and I can't unsee what I saw in Columbia, but I can undo it. When I stood with Governor Haley we actually fought against the entrenched bureaucrats who were spending your money, the corrupt good ole boys who are taking your money and the liberal Democrats who just want more of your money. And now, I know just enough to be dangerous to those snakes in the swamp. In fact, the media called me a buzz saw because I actually cut government, cut regulation, cut corruption, cut spending and I did it for the people of South Carolina. I’m the only person on this stage that both Governor Nikki Haley and President Donald Trump offered a job because they knew my conservative values. They knew my record in the business community and my success and they knew that it was time for us to make it a great day in South Carolina again.

Kevin Bryant: Thank you, Charles. I’m Kevin Bryant and it is an honor to serve South Carolina as lieutenant governor. We've had several debates. We've talked about several issues and a lotta those answers have been very similar. So, tonight I wanna talk a little bit about executive functions that your next governor can perform. I’ve straightened out the office on aging, that's the agency under the lieutenant governor, and it's working very well, but we have some serious problems with DSS. Senator Shealy and I went to DSS with several children in dangerous situations. We had one little girl whose father was already convicted of abusing a son. He posted on Facebook, he blamed it on his tattle tale son. He was smoking dope on Facebook. We went, governor, to your agency and you did nothing. As your governor, this will stop.

Charles Bierbauer: In this first round of questions we have a specific question for each one of you. I will ask the first one of Governor McMaster. We want to address some of the things that you've said, some of the things that you may have proposed, do a bit of fact checking here. So, each of you will get a specific question. Governor McMaster, you mentioned the problem with prisons and cell phones and the need to deal with that. In our previous debate you said in regard to the potential of jamming cell phones in South Carolina prisons, one that it's illegal and two, that it's impossible to buy the equipment in the United States. It's my understanding, according to the department of corrections, that already there is a million and a half dollar contract for equipment that is being installed at the Lee Correctional Institution, so were you underselling that approach or could you tell us what has happened?

Henry McMaster: That's not jamming equipment. That's, Director Sterling has explained that before. That is not jamming equipment. Jamming equipment is 100 percent effective

Charles Bierbauer: Is it not intended to interrupt, intercept?

Henry McMaster: No, it is called a management system where it tries to intercept certain signals, but the problem is all those signals, those frequencies can be changed. That's why the jamming system is the best. It's the least expensive, it's the best, it works 100 percent, the problem is it's illegal to have it. It's illegal to sell it in the United States. It's illegal to have it and illegal to install it, but we're tryin' everything we can to keep those cell phones outta those prisons and that's one of the reasons we had such a tragedy, a horrific thing, not long ago at Lee. But, what I had done is gotten the state guard and they are now patrolling the perimeters of several of the prisons. We hope to do more, in order to keep those cell phones from going over and also we are workin' hard to get whatever the best equipment is that money can buy and put it in there.

Q: You've repeatedly said that less than half of the money we send our schools actually gets to the classroom and that we should be spending at least 70 percent. State data shows that if you fired every school and district administrator tomorrow statewide, that would free up less than 10 percent and other big ticket expenses not directly related to face to face teaching include meals, transportation, guidance, libraries, et cetera, et cetera, so what would you cut to get to your 70 percent benchmark?

John Warren: So, ultimately right now, when you look at our education system, we're 50th in the country and liberals will continue to tell us that they need to tax us more and that we need to spend more money. But, we spend over $13,000 per year per student and less than half of that actually reaches the classroom. If you look statewide it's 47 percent. So, if we combine certain, if we made sure that more money got to the classrooms we could pay our teachers more, we could have smaller class sizes and where does the money go right now? It gets caught up in the bureaucracies. So, if the bureaucracies within certain school districts, Florence for instance, has five school districts. That's five superintendents, five CFOs, all the access bureaucracy. We need to get rid of that and then get more money to the classroom just as I said.

Q: Mr. Bryant, during the last debate you said that you called last fall for the removal, to quote, the whole board of Santee Cooper, but in fact, that really is not possible because state law says the governor may only fire board members if they fail to show up for work or if they commit one of the handful of infractions. So, considering that, how would you handle the board? What would you direct them to do?

Kevin Bryant: I’d get rid of the board and I’ll tell you why. Here's what this board has done. They are 40 percent responsible, I’ll get there, Victoria. This board is 40 percent responsible for a $9.4 billion hole in the ground up in Fairfield County. This board has driven up $7 billion of debt to the children and grandchildren of the taxpayers of this state. This board rewarded the outgoing CEO $800,000 a year for a pension. If that's not cause for removal I don't know what is.

Q: In the last debate up at Clemson, when asked about taxes you and several of your colleagues said the state has plenty of money, emphasis on plenty of money. When asked about school spending, you said, we've got to invest more in the children of the state. When asked about school security, you said, you can't spend money you don't have. So, do we have plenty of money or do we not have plenty of money and if we've got plenty what are your priorities?

Yancey McGill: We do have plenty of money. We have a AA, AAA credit rating in South Carolina. The money has been taken care of, it simply has not been spent when it was not an opportunity to spend the taxpayer's money. I will tell you this, the General Assembly having been part of the General Assembly, they simply are not gonna waste money at any angle. I’ve seen it, I saw it for years, but I also can tell you that yes, we've got to put security for the children of the state. We need to look at audits of the state Appropriation Bill, I’ve said that from day one. We've got to locate where the funds are located and we shuffle, but also keep in mind also stated in 1975, home rule went into effect, which gave virtually total autonomy with the school districts to spend the money once they received it, based on or according to individual boards across this state.

Q: You said that one of the reasons why South Carolina's crackdown on opioid abuse is because of your work in the state's health agency, so telling doctors to, turn off the spicket, and telling pharmacists to report in 24 hours instead of 30 days, but no doctor was required to actually report and use that database until 2016, more than a year after you left DHEC and the law on requiring pharmacists to report daily instead of monthly was actually stakehold sponsored by then, Senator Bryant. So, what was your role in those efforts or were you referring to something else entirely?

Catherine Templeton: No, I was absolutely referring to what we did and Senator Bryant will back me up here on this one. When I was the director of DHEC we didn't need a law, to pass a law to make it so that pharmacists reported in 24 hours instead of 30 days. In fact, as the director of DHEC, I just asked them to start doing it and required them to start doing it and we actually even paid for the computer software, if you'll remember that automatically started reporting within 24 hours, so it was good that they came behind us and required it for future use when I wasn't there anymore, but it was one of the first things that we did because we already could under the law. Also, with medical doctors, we went to the Board of Medical Examiners, which I used to be a part of, with Governor Haley. We went to the Board of Pharmacy, we went to the nurses and we asked them why they weren't using the computer system that we were providing and they said it was because they didn't have time. So, we gave permission to the administrators to run the schedules before the patients came in so that the doctors could use it and make it more convenient for them. We went to the associations that were with the doctors and asked for mandatory training on opioid abuse. We went into the death certificates. I can keep goin'.

Kevin Bryant: Yes, I wanna respond. I was against this database. If you go to your dentist and you get six Norcos from a tooth pulled, guess what? You go in a nanny government database. If you go get a Valium or a Tramadol, nanny government database. Governor Mark Sanford vetoed it and I supported that veto, but finally, the federal government made us do this. Here's the problem, what government does. To go after the bad apples of drug users we violate the privacy of every South Carolinian. I didn't support goin' to the 24 hour. The reason I supported that is because I didn't want it to get any more frequent than 24 hours.

Q: A recent report by The Post and Courier showed that the largest number of bridges in need of repairs are actually in rural communities. And, of course, in Charleston as you know we recently had the shut down of the Wando Bridge due to that cable snapping. What will you do to insure that our bridges are in fact safe?

Henry McMaster: Well there are two things. The good news is I vetoed the gas tax 'cause we didn't need it. We were gettin' $623 million from the earlier gas tax, but not all of that was goin' to bridges as we know and that that was goin' to bridges or roads, was goin' to the wrong ones. A lot of that money bein' misspent or being mismanaged I would say is at the county level, but I’ve made it clear under the new law, which gives me the authority to appoint and to remove the commissioners of the Department of Transportation that we're gonna go by what the engineers say, we'll go by the priorities. We'll have 'em set, so everybody knows where the money's being spended, bein' spent and anyone who diverges away from that will have to answer for it and I’d be able to remove 'em. It's a at will employment, or at will service on that commission. That's a new thing in South Carolina and I look forward, very much forward to seein' bridges and this includes 526 down in Charleston and I-73 and a lot of 'em in between to see that the right ones are built and roads.

Catherine Templeton: So, I used to advise Fortune 500 companies. This is not a difficult problem to fix. It's simply making the right deals, making good deals, holding the contractors accountable and having a list of priorities. You know, I live in Charleston, too, so I too am acutely aware it took us about 45 minutes to get four miles to get one of our children to school when the bridge was out and the bridge had been being watched for 82 weeks. Every week the DOT went out and looked at the bridge and the cable and watched it breaking. I submit that if there was a brick at the State House that was crumbling, the governor would not walk outside and look at the brick 82 times. They would just fix it. So, as your governor I will make sure that the Department of Transportation is accountable, that all of the projects that are going on around the state, you'll be able to look on the website and see when your road is going to be fixed, when your potholes are going to be filled in. You will know, and that is accountability and it comes from having a business background and it comes from already having four years of on the job training and watching the corruption at DOT.

Kevin Bryant: Thank you. The problem with the DOT is we don't know who to hold accountable. The legislature controls the DOT. You know the county that has the least problem with bridges? It's Florence, because right now the power structure in the legislature is in Florence. It used to be in Charleston. You know what? Charleston's gettin' punished. They knew about this bridge on 526 since 2010 and I’ve taken, I was in Florence just last night and I gave them this same message. Florence, they get it. It's their turn now and when the power in the legislature shifts to somewhere else in the state, then they're gonna get punished. Just like Ms. Templeton said, the DOT needs to be a cabinet level agency under the governor. During the gas tax debate, in 2008, Governor Sanford took the message to the taxpayer and we lost that vote by one vote. During this debate Governor McMaster was not involved in that debate and if he was we would've gotten the votes to make the DOT a cabinet level agency so the taxpayers of this state know who to hold accountable.

Henry McMaster: We've got now I, as your governor, have the authority to remove any highway commissioner. I have that authority right now. There are nine of them. I have appointed six of 'em and I’m gonna finish up appointing the others and the governor now, I have the authority right now for any reason, or no reason at all, to remove any commissioner on that Department of Transportation. I have had meetings with them. I’ve had meetings with Christy Hall. We have discussed it, it is real clear. We are sticking to the priority set by the engineers and those who give the information and the governor is responsible for that highway department.

Yancey McGill: I go back, the DOT is awash in money, the same as the rest of this state. I qualify that, I chaired 26 state agencies on Senate finance. I would bring those agencies in for public forums. I’d ask 'em, what did you do with your money last year. What did you plan to do this year? And, how much reserve money do you have sittin' on the shelf? They did not like answering those questions, but I have always found in order to solve a problem you have got to ask the different agencies what your problem, you gotta share with them, but ask 'em, is there any help that you can give. I can tell you this, that when we were in the Senate 26 years I went in and learned it was a rigged typed system, but I learned very quickly if you don't go to those DOT commission meetins', if you don't make 'yo presence known, if you don't ask about those bridges, when federal dollars would come in or state dollars, I’m tellin' you right now, most of my bridges got fixed.

John Warren: Our roads are abysmal. It doesn't matter where you go, other than Florence, our roads are terrible and everybody knows it. If you like the way our roads are currently, you should continue to vote and support Governor McMaster. But, if you're not happy with your roads, if you want a strategic vision and a strategic plan on how to fix them, then you should turn to the rookie, like me, because I’m a rookie when it comes to government, but I’m not a rookie when it comes to business and leading people in combat. We need someone who's gonna go in there and who understands business solutions. The thing that we have to do is bring accountability to DOT. We have to make it a cabinet level position, but then we have to also do away with the DOT commission. The DOT commission is corrupt, it's political and serves no purpose. Then, we need to roll the state infrastructure bank into DOT and finally, we need a strategic five year plan. It is very simple. We have got to have a strategic plan based on road usage and also based on growth of an area. That is a clear conservative business plan to a complex problem and that's what I’m gonna bring when I’m governor.

Henry McMaster: We brought that, we fixed that bridge in ahead of schedule and within the budget and that's a good business plan. We got that done in record time and our hat is off to those people who worked around the clock, the employees with the tractors and the workers around the clock, 24 hours a day to get it done and it was a good plan, it worked.

John Warren: Building a bridge is not a plan for the entire state. Fixing one bridge, that's what you're bragging about? What we need is, we need a strategic plan for all of our roads. You brag about, you can remove the DOT commissioners but you haven't removed any.

Henry McMaster: I did not and I have appointed new ones.

Q: This week a state senator, someone from your party, pled guilty to charges of misconduct in office, not the first. Yesterday I received this Twitter message, and I asked this question last evening of the Democrats. The Twitter sender says, “All candidates, Democrats and Republicans talk about how corrupt it is in Columbia. I’d like to know more specifics,” said he, “specifically, what corruption, specifically what will you do about it,” and then to me, “if they're not specific, pin 'em down.” Consider yourselves pinned down.

Catherine Templeton: Easy, thank you very much. You know, you right, he's right. Everyone is talking about corruption because it's rampant. Let me tell you what I did about it. When I was asked to go to the port of Charleston I went in and I was asked to cut their spending because they make a lotta money, but they waste a lotta money. I got fired after five weeks of being at the Port of Charleston because on a Thursday I released corrupt state contracts, money that was going to the Quinn's, the two political consultants that were the political consultants for the indicted and pled guilty senator yesterday, as well as on Henry McMaster's payroll for 30 years, and on Monday I was asked to leave the port. I gave a quarter of a million dollar job because I did the right thing and I participated in the investigation with the FBI and SLED that resulted in those indictments as well. My concern is whether or not our current governor is a target of that investigation or will be a target of that investigation if we hire him on June 12, and then he gets indicted, we're handing our state over to the liberals.

Kevin Bryant: Thank you. We're hearing rhetoric and we're gonna hear some action. I wrote a bill, the South Carolina Anti-Racketeering Act. We've had sponsors in the House and we've had sponsors in the Senate. When one of the Quinn family was caught selling his vote for millions of dollars and walks away with a $1000 fine that is an insult to the taxpayers of this state and that is a invitation for corruption. This law's been passed in 33 states. Rick Quinn has been called the godfather and as Ms. Templeton said, Governor McMaster is one of his oldest clients and the first order of business in the governor's mansion was to have the godfather come visit the governor's mansion for a family meeting.

Yancey McGill: Number one, what has gotta happen, as governor we will take the Senate Ethics Committee and the House Ethics Committee and we will abolish them after we turn all strength over to the state ethics commission. I can tell you now, no one should be policing themselves. The state employees in the Senate and the House are some of the most honorable people anywhere in this country and I can tell you by testament that each one of them simply have always done the right thing, but what happened with Senator Courson was sad. He had a respect level all over this state, even having worked with the U.S. senator of this state and it's really and truly sad for he and his family both and a lot of citizens all over this state, but to pile on at this stage is simply not the right thing to do. I am truly of the opinion we must go forward with the commitment that we will take issues that can become problems and put 'em in the right places and it goes back to the money. You got to disclose the money. Where's the money?

John Warren: In the Marine Corps our core values were honor, courage and commitment and we need to bring some of that to Columbia and it's never gonna happen if we have a governor who employed the biggest criminal in our state for the past 30 years. We've gotta have an outsider, a conservative, someone that's gonna fight for the taxpayer for a change to go to Columbia and fight this corruption and that's what I’m gonna do. We've gotta have real reforms. Number one, we gotta fight for term limits. I believe that 80 percent or more of South Carolina, they want term limits and we have got to get that enacted. It will solve a lotta the corruption problem. It will also bring a higher caliber person to the legislature and as governor, I’m gonna fight for that. I’m gonna fight for a requirement of arm’s length transactions for legislators so that legislators and their family members cannot profit off of government contracts. I’m also going to require a competitive bidding system to make sure that there are no no bid contracts and that's what I’m gonna do as governor.

Henry McMaster: I’m not sure which question to go to first. I’m catchin' fire here. Y'all this is politics, but I think we got to stick with the truth. I think we have to stick with the truth and the only investigation I’ve been involved in are ones that I was runnin' myself, first as U.S. attorney. We sent people to jail for voter fraud which is the height of ethics violations. Vote fraud, for drug trafficking all around the world and as attorney general I did it again. I’m the only one on the stage that's been involved in law and order and that's why I know what to do about it and help keep the people safe. But, this idea that there is corruption is true and I’ll give you an example of it. Mr. Warren mentioned, it's no bid contracts. After you leave a job you get no bid contracts. Ms. Templeton had three high payin' no bid contracts, the ones she got after she left DHEC on whatever circumstances she left, was paid more than she got as working for DHEC. The contract down at the Ports Authority, she got fired for that after five weeks. Those no bid, high paid contracts which all those things have not been disclosed by Ms. Templeton, there is in the income taxes, I’ve put out 17 years complete, she and my friend John Warren have put out three years, all redacted. That right there's the kinda corruption and failure to disclose that outta be outlawed and is.

Catherine Templeton: So, Mr. McMaster, the actual disclosure of these no bid contracts that you're talkin' about, your campaign disclosed them because they were part of the public record from the beginning, from the moment they were actually ever given by Governor Haley. It's called continuation of government. Every single, solitary DHEC representative under Governor Haley was given a continuation because until the Senate confirmed the next director I had secret service security clearance. I watched plutonium come into the port. I worked with Governor Haley and every dollar I have ever made for the state of South Carolina or otherwise, is public record and always has been.

Q: Last month Governor McMaster vetoed a bill that would expand the non-violent crimes that ex-cons can get removed from the records after they've kept clean slate for between three and 20 years, depending on the crime. Do you agree with that veto or do you think the legislature should override it when they return later this month? And, when it comes your turn, sir, if you could say if there's any expungement bill you would sign.

Kevin Bryant: I don't agree with expungement bills. I believe if someone has committed a crime it oughtta stay on their record and I believe the employers of this state, they do give people second chances. They need to have all the facts. We shouldn't ask our, we shouldn't ask our employers to hire people and not know everything about their history. I’ve hired folks in my store that have had made a mistake here and there in their life and our employers, they, we have good employers in South Carolina. They'll give people second chances, but we shouldn't just erase the past. I think that public record oughtta remain.

Yancey McGill: I picture a 13-year-old that could've gotten in trouble at a early age, may have stolen some CDs out of a vehicle, whether there's exception to the rule or not, I think sometimes you've got to look at it legally, you gotta look at it biblically and you've gotta make the right decision at the right time of what you may would do or not do. I think we live with forgiveness. I think we live with the Lord's grace and I can tell you right now, depending on the age of that young person, sometimes they do need some expungement, depending on the young age that they were at. When they become certainly an adult and they are out doin' things that are wrong we find it very hard to expunge that record.

John Warren: As a business owner that employs hundreds of people and the only person on this stage that has created hundreds of jobs, I will tell you that employers and fellow employees deserve the right to know the backgrounds of anyone being hired it would be criminal to have a convicted felon be hired without the knowledge of the employer and the employee. At Lima One we hire people based on their core values and their competencies and then we train 'em to make sure that they can do the job correctly and that's what I would do as governor.

Henry McMaster: Well, Mr. Warren's right about that and that's why I vetoed that bill and what Mr. McGill said is right, but it oughtta be the employer, the employer that oughtta be exercising that kinda judgment and forgiveness and not the government. This is, what was botherin' me is you could have domestic violence, people convicted of domestic violence, drug crimes, all sorts of things, that under that law, that proposed law, would have been wiped out and not disclosed to the employer. I think the reason a lotta the employers want that is they wanna give 'em a second chance, of course, but also if the employer is unable to know about those kinda things, then the employer escapes liability if one of those problems pops up later on and there's an accident or something, somebody runs off the rail. So, forgiveness, all that is great. Second chance, that is great, but you cannot hide from your record. You cannot hide from the consequences of your action, to be teachin' young people that you can say, no, I have not been convicted of anything when everybody knows you have is sendin' the wrong message to the people.

Catherine Templeton: We have to treat criminals like criminals. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again and certainly Governor McMaster should have known since he's had, is the only law enforcement or law and order candidate we have up here, supposedly. In July of last year we had a fellow jump the fence. We couldn't find him. The government couldn't find him. They finally found him in Texas for us. Not too long ago, in Charleston a few months ago, a man who was not required to finish his entire sentence came from Spartanburg to Charleston, beat one of our mothers, took one of our little girls, took her out of state and sexually abused her because he didn't, in the three weeks he was supposed to still be in jail, finish that sentence under Governor McMaster's leadership. And finally, we all know, we talked about it already, the deaths at Lee Correctional Center where cell phones were partially to blame and nobody will jam the cell phones. I don't understand why we don't put South Carolina first. I’m not gonna wait on the federal bureaucrats to give me permission to keep you safe, or the cell phone lobby to contribute to my campaign.

Yancey McGill: Let me use your little fancy moment to let me say a couple of things. Expungement, as our chief of SLED will tell you, will not erase totally a person's crime. If you call SLED it's gonna show up in their records, regardless of what you've done. So, there's a plus and balance in the whole process.  

Henry McMaster: And if I may, dean, the jamming, you cannot buy it, it cannot be sold in the United States, regardless of what you think of the federal government. It is a crime to do so. The system that Mr. Sterling is using is called managed access and it in many places has been used it does not work. One reason he's able to get that is 'cause I issued an executive order allowing him to buy things without going through all the red tape.

Q: Some of you have overtly embraced President Trump, one of you has been endorsed by him. So, my question is, how is the Trump presidency, what has it done to effect South Carolina, or better or for worse, and do you see this election in any way as a referendum on President Trump?

Yancey McGill: His administration absolutely has brought hope, not just social hope, but he has brought hope economically for a lotta depressed people in this state. There's so many seniors in this state that are on fixed incomes that I don' know where their next funds will come from to pay for their prescription drugs, to pay for basic essentials for their homes. I was director of aging years ago and that is gonna become a big focus that we gonna have, is changing the system for seniors who are so underserved, but I will tell you that it's gonna take experience and knowledge with different issues to make a difference. I think you'll see every person on this stage is qualified to be governor of this state, but I will tell you that with all said and done, President Trump has brought true hope for the American people.

John Warren: I wake up every day and I’m so excited that Hillary Clinton is not our president and President Trump is, and that's sincerely. I initially supported Ted Cruz because Ted Cruz was a conservative, but as soon as my candidate dropped out I supported President Trump, very similarly to Henry McMaster, who initially supported a not so conservative candidate named Lindsey Graham. So, when you talk about the benefits of President Trump, he's done an unbelievable job with his Supreme Court justice pick, very conservative and we can see that with the recent judgment, seven to two, in favor of the bakers. He's also done a great job at de-regulating a lotta things through executive order and he's done a great job with the tax initiatives. So, what we need in this election, we need another businessman. We need someone that's created jobs, someone who's not a career politician, not a government insider, someone that's gonna go to Columbia, drain the swamp and actually fight for the taxpayer and I’m the only person on this stage that can say that.

Henry McMaster: Well, the question had an error in it. There's only one of us here, or in any of these gubernatorial candidates of either side who's been embraced or endorsed by President Trump and that is yours truly, and you've seen him in my ads and he came to Greenville and campaigned for me and I’ve been to the White House a number of times and he is 100 percent in my corner. In fact, his people tell me I was the first elected official in the United States to come out and support president, President Trump. So, I’m the only one that's been embraced. Now, Ms. Templeton talks about a visit that she made up to see President Trump, this was during the transition period and that was after she'd come to me and asked to be my runnin' mate, to be lieutenant governor, to be my runnin' mate. I said I couldn't do that. As you know I selected Pamela Evette to do that. So then we tried to get her somethin' at the White House, somethin' in the administration somewhere and that didn't work out, so here we are today.

Catherine Templeton: So, when the liberal media has more integrity than the governor of South Carolina it is time for us to have a new governor of South Carolina. You know, Governor McMaster, thank you. Governor McMaster put up all of these ads that you know, I was fired, fired, fired and the liberal media who stood to make hundreds of thousands of dollars to take them down, took them down because they are so patently false. In fact, Governor Haley weighed in to say that they were inaccurate, but let's go back to why Mr. Trump has influenced South Carolina. Just in what his answer was, his timing is all wrong. Pamela Evette was not appointed until way after I came to tell you I was running for governor in your office and you said, “fair enough,” and I said, “fair enough,” and I walked out. You told me my boots were made for walkin'. I remember like it was yesterday, but let me tell you what President Trump has done for this state. He has taken a buzz saw to the bureaucracy in the establishment and the snakes in the swamp, just like I did when I worked for Governor Haley and that is what we've gotta have in South Carolina, somebody that will keep promises for the people, who won't run for somethin' else, who doesn't need the paycheck and who's never done it, never run for office before, like me.

Henry McMaster: That was a pact, that was not my campaign that ran that ad at all. Right, and then it was on November 29, a Wednesday, at 3:15 or 3:30, Ms. Templeton came in and asked if she could be my runnin' mate for lieutenant governor and I said no.

Kevin Bryant: Thank you. The question about President Trump. President Trump has exposed the corruption in Washington. We have the same swamp in Columbia. This current political corruption probe is going on five years. The center of this corruption is Richard Quinn, the media has called the godfather. Here again, I wanna know why, why was the first order of business to have the godfather at the governor's mansion for a family meeting? This godfather, as the media has portrayed, has tentacles in all areas of government. That's why the South Carolina Racketeering Act would say, “You can't be an elected official. You can't be a lobbyist. You can't be a government consultant. You can't be a political consultant, all at the same time.” We have our own swamp. It is time to clear out the corruption and this government needs to be returned to the taxpayer and we need to restore integrity in the government.

Henry McMaster: We have an open door at the mansion. We try to get all the children in there. We have all sorts of, not long ago we had Burt Bacharach up there, havin' a concert. It was fabulous, but we try to get as many people. Mr. Bryant, I believe you've been there 'yoself a few times and you welcome to come any time you like.

Kevin Bryant: When I move in in January, Henry, you're welcome to come see me.

Q: Several of you have talked about the ads, the political ads. We have all seen plenty of political ads. Some of us have probably seen more than we care to. I’d like to ask each of you to respond to this question if you would. What do you object to in any one of your opponent's ads? I’m gonna ask each of you in turn to do that, starting with Mr. Warren, and whoever's ad is named has one chance for rebuttal.

John Warren: Well, ultimately what has happened this week is I continue to climb in the polls and it's because I’m the messenger of the conservative movement of South Carolina and what happens when you climb in the polls, you get attacked. And, the attack ads are coming because my opponents, their support and their campaigns are crumbling like our roads and our bridges. So, that's not, that's a very serious thing and rather than spend their time and their money tryin' to come up with a plan for DOT they're attacking me. So, number one, I am 100 percent pro-life. I have always been 100 percent pro-life. There's only one person on this stage that has flip flopped with pro-life and that's Catherine Templeton. In terms of supporting gun rights and the Second Amendment, I’m the only person on this stage that's actually fought for the Second Amendment and I would never ever abandon the Second Amendment and I know that the value of weapons are to defend our country and to defend our families. We don't wanna use weapons as a silly prop to attack fictitious snakes and as governor.

Catherine Templeton: Yeah, John, you're just not who you say you are and bein' pro-life is not a political thing for me. It's a personal thing. Everyone knows the story about the difficult pregnancy I had with our twins, but you signed the Personhood pledge and then three days ago, which makes no exception for life, and then three days ago you are on record saying you make an exception for what the person the people consider murder, as well as you know, when you had the chance to stand with our Second Amendment, and I appreciate your service, legitimately, I honestly do. But, when you had the ability to protect the Second Amendment with me, Trey Gowdy, Jeff Duncan, you didn't.

John Warren: Ultimately, this is just a smoke screen. Catherine Templeton calls herself a triple threat. She is a triple threat to the conservative movement. She needs to answer why she can be a conservative when she votes for pro-choice, pro-abortion, Vincent Sheheen. She also has given money to statewide pro-abortion Democrats and she lied about it in the last debate and she has also failed, when we were taking on Obama in 2008, 2012, she failed to even show up to vote in the Republican presidential primary.

Henry McMaster: I like to stick with the truth and I think it's good to stick with the truth and don't tell half-truths and don't leave out part of the story, so there are a lot, it's actually harder to find, Ms. Templeton's ads particularly, harder to find the truth about me, or even about her. I think we got a new industry brewin' in South Carolina. It's called fact checkers. I think they're on their way here to fact check these ads that my opponent, Ms. Templeton's, been runnin'.

Catherine Templeton: So, first of all it was President Trump's team that called me a triple threat, not me. And you know, like when they attacked President Trump, I’m a conservative like he said he was a conservative and Nikki Haley and Donald Trump both knew my conservative record before they offered me a job. Nikki Haley offered me not one, but two jobs and President Trump did offer me a job. So, but I wanna stick to the facts. I’ve only got 12 minutes to stick to the facts. When can I talk about yours? Seconds, yes sir.

Kevin Bryant: Yes, none of my friends to my left have attacked me 'cause they all like me, but we have driven this debate. We hear rhetoric and you see a record of action. I wrote the Personhood Bill, they all signed the pledge. I wrote constitutional carry, they have all supported that. I wrote a plan to de-fund Planned Parenthood and Governor McMaster has promised to veto a budget that funds Planned Parenthood. I wrote a Anti-Racketeering Act for South Carolina. Hopefully tonight, my friends to my left will endorse that bill also.

Yancey McGill: We are Second Amendment, Personhood all the way and voted every vote on the floor of the Senate for pro-life. I will also tell you I don't know what Henry was talkin' 'bout embracing while ago. I think you were talking about embracing or being embraced by the president, but you know every night I go home, my wife of 44 years comes over and gives me a big embracement, a big hug, and I can tell you right now, much appreciated, my daughter, Lisa, sitting right here on the front row is here tonight and I noticed a good friend, Jimmy Joyce Gerow. Joyce, you'll be in our prayers as you have your knee surgery. Many others that are here tonight, Hood Temple from Florence, many others, all over this auditorium, but we are supposed to enjoy government. It's business, it's serious and I will tell you this. Until we disclose, as Nikki Haley tried to do, Mark Sanford, many others, until we disclose the actual funds, that's the assets, the liabilities, of this state, until we look at the accounts receivable, the accounts payable, we will never be able to disclose to the public where the money is. That's what this campaign is about.

Q: This year legislation legalizing medical marijuana made it to both the House and Senate floors before the session ended. Now, Senator Tom Davis, who's been leading the effort, says that he believes it has the momentum to reach the governor's desk next year. Would you sign it if it reached your desk or would you advocate perhaps even before then?

Henry McMaster: It depends on what's in that bill. Law enforce, I’m opposed to recreational marijuana, no doubt about that. In law enforcement I’ve seen it and I’ve seen the consequences as well as other drugs much worse and we are awash with them now, particularly opioids. It depends on what the details are. If law enforcement is four square against it, as they are now, then I will not sign it. If law enforcement is satisfied that the ingredients, the chemicals and whatever it is that is so dangerous to our people and what that would cause, if we can be satisfied, if I can be satisfied by them, then I’d be happy to sign it, but until that day I will not.

Catherine Templeton: I’m for medical marijuana. I’m against recreational marijuana. Right now in South Carolina we have made it easier to sit on the couch and collect welfare than to take one of the 60,000 open jobs in South Carolina and idle hands lead to that opioid epidemic that we talked about earlier. As your governor I would make sure that any welfare program requires drug testing. I would make sure that Medicaid requires that able bodied people be working or that they be training to work. You know, I used to rotate shifts in a factory and then, I turned that into a law degree and I used to advise Fortune 500 companies. I actually know the importance of that hard earned dollar. It's why, when I’m your governor, we'll also reduce taxes on income tax because that is the most egregious tax that we could possibly do. We have to make it more expensive to lay on the couch than to get up and go to work. We have to make sure that South Carolinians are taking advantage of all of this economic development that Governor Haley brought in. I was one of the business people standing behind her backing up what she was selling and I wanna make sure that South Carolina kids and people get our jobs.

Kevin  Bryant: Thank you. A lotta candidates on this stage are gonna claim they're the only one that's done this, but I’m a pharmacist. I bet I’m the only one on this stage that can read a doctor's sloppy handwriting. But, as a pharmacist, seriously, there are many, many things on our shelves that are more dangerous than medical marijuana, but we need to be very, very, very careful on how we approach this. Like the governor said, the devil is in the details. I do not support recreational use. We do not want to become in South Carolina like states like Colorado have, but we need to have the debate. Let's start very small and there are plenty of places we can start. My first suggestion is hospice patients. That might be a good place to start and let's expand very, very carefully so we don't become a recreational state.

Yancey McGill: We are not for recreational marijuana. I know of three research universities in this state are well equipped and working with universities all over this country to look at the medical marijuana. In some cases they can help those that are sick to a horrible degree, whether it be a senior, whether it be a child, but I will tell you this. If law enforcement, governor, you're right. If they stand against the so stated legislation, it would be hard for me to vote for anything.

John Warren: I support medical marijuana. My father, unfortunately, who I loved dearly passed away from brain cancer and I can tell you, the final days were not pleasant and if anything including medical marijuana, could have eased his suffering, I would've been in favor of it. Ultimately, this is an example where the federal government is failing us. Medical marijuana should be regulated just like every other drug by the FDA, but because of the special interests, the pharmaceutical companies, it's not and we need to do somethin' about that. I would support medical marijuana. I would not support any recreational use. As governor, I would prevent that and that's my policy.

Q: A recent study by the financial website called Rewards Expert shows South Carolina ranks as the eighth worst state in the nation for those living with low incomes. The study analyzed indicators like government social programs and assistance, minimum wage, insurance and housing costs and Medicaid. What would you do to help those living with low incomes?

Catherine Templeton: You know, this is where experience matters. With experience both in business and making decisions, the hardest decisions and in government and understanding all the traps the government lays for you know, really lifting up poverty, trying to help poverty, but then making it so difficult to deal with. You know, Governor McMaster has 40 years of experience, but his experience is a politician. What we need is someone that can be a conservative buzz saw and go in and take those government programs and straighten them out for the people of South Carolina. You know, our head coach went to the United Nations and in the interim, our interim coach has had 16 months to do a number of things. In 16 months our interim coach has tried to ban sanctuary cities. I did that in six months working for Governor Haley. Our interim coach, in 16 months has tried to stop and asked permission from the feds to stop money to Planned Parenthood. Day one, I did that as the health chief working for Governor Haley. We didn't send money to Planned Parenthood. You know, all these jobs that he brought in to help with poverty, those are contracts and deals that Governor Haley closed for the state of South Carolina while I stood behind her and backed up what she was selling. So, we have to make sure that there's prosperity in South Carolina, that we get the programs to the people who actually need them, not who want them, but need them and that we take care of the people.

Kevin Bryant: Thank you, Victoria. Let's go back to my record of action. When I was a member of the Senate I would bring case after case after case from the Department of Employment and Workforce, that's on our unemployment agency. We found a bank teller convicted of stealing from a bank that drew full unemployment and Governor Haley made a very smart decision in appointing a very, one of her best appointments to change the culture of this agency. Now DEW is a jobs agency. When unemployed people come they find them work and we were paying people to sit on the couch. This has resulted in two things. One, we have restored the dignity of those that are unemployed, we found them work. Two, we have saved the employers of this state, just by a culture change in a cabinet agency, to the tune of $600 million. This gives employers funds to expand their business, to give raises to their employees. We gotta stop paying people to sit on the couch and we've gotta leave money in the pockets of consumers where you can spend it, not the tax collectors and not the trough weeders in the State House over there.

Yancey McGill: We gonna answer the question, but we gonna answer it this way. As governor, I saw it with Carroll Campbell, I saw it with Jim Edwards, who was president of MUSC. I saw it with others, we live in a legislative state. We know that, but it can be an executive state if we can just have the right leadership. If you can't count the votes in the General Assembly, that's the big, I see Senator Shealy here tonight and many others. If you cannot count the votes in the Senate and the House, you'll never pass any legislation. It's an art of learning from a system that was hard to work through, but I can tell you now that I’ve not seen a governor fail that could count those numbers, the 124 in the House and in the Senate. I went down, was called by Governor Haley, her first week in office, she asked me if I would put together her five issues in the House and Senate. I told her could not do it. I had 26 public hearings comin' up. Yes, and I wanna tell you we did it and we passed all five parishes in the Senate and passed in the House. Thank you.

John Warren: Number one, in order to create jobs here in South Carolina we need someone who's actually created jobs. I’m the only one on this stage that's created hundreds of jobs. We do an amazing job of recruiting businesses here and we need to continue that, but part of the problems that go with that is there's an unfair advantage and what's penalized are our small businesses. Small businesses across the state make up 60 to 80 percent of all the jobs in every county. I was meeting with someone the other day that they were a native, they're very successful here in Columbia. He told me that his biggest regret was starting his company in South Carolina. And, I said, “Why would you say that?” He said, well, if he'd started in New Jersey of if he'd started it in Germany and moved it back here, South Carolina would've rolled out the red carpet for him, and he pointed across the street and it was a competitor that had moved here. They paid nothing in property taxes. My friend paid $286,000 a year. So, we've gotta get small businesses the same advantages of the large companies and we also have to improve workforce development. We have to teach people skills.

Henry McMaster: Well, Mr. Warren's off base with that, with that statement. There are some of us who have created a lotta jobs. I see Pat, Pat McKinney, your runnin' mate, he and I were on the Ports Authority, both appointed by Governor Haley and that's when we made the decision to build the inland port in Greer and that has worked, that has worked thousands and thousands of jobs and just a few weeks ago we opened up the inland port in Dillon. They already say that's brought in more than a thousand jobs, property values are goin' up. There're a lotta ways to create jobs in South Carolina. I’ve been promoting the new kinda prosperity. It's based on brain power and this great manufacturing base that we have. By combining the research universities, the intellectual capital of universities and with the researchers in these big companies and marrying that up with technical college, ours are the best in the United States, and the high school, we can have great employment for our people and that takes everybody up.

 

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