“Are you ready to elect the next president of the United States?” First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe asked before Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton took the stage on Friday.
“Yeah!” the crowd responded.
Hundreds flooded inside a barn at the Orangeburg County Fairgrounds for Pascoe’s annual oyster roast to listen to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who both seeking the Democratic nomination.
A number of elected officials were also in attendance, including Congressman Jim Clyburn, who has endorsed Clinton.
He highlighted Clinton’s experience working for the Children’s Defense Fund in South Carolina during the 1970s.
“When people tell you that they know what to do to restore the judicial system, you tell them that our choice for president has been doing it for 40 years, and she started right here in South Carolina,” Clyburn said.
Clyburn said when selecting a candidate, ask “What did you do for me before you started running?”
The Democratic Primary is today. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Clinton says she knows the road to the White House goes through Orangeburg.
“It is time that we do more to help people get on those ladders of opportunity. I am absolutely committed to doing all that I can to break down every barrier that stands in the way of Americans getting ahead and staying ahead,” she said.
Clinton highlighted the New Market Tax Credit that former president Bill Clinton, her husband, created during his time as president.
“My esteemed opponent voted against that,” she said.
Clinton said the government has to be an active partner with the private sector and local and state elected officials to attract investment.
“We have a lot of work to be done on infrastructure in America. Our bridges, roads, tunnels, ports and airports need to be modernized,” she said. Clinton said the water systems also need to be fixed.
Clinton said the minimum wage should be increased.
“Don’t you think it’s past time for women to get equal pay for the work that they are doing?” she said.
The last two Democratic presidents did a pretty good job with the economy, Clinton added.
“They both inherited problems from their Republican predecessors,” she said.
Clinton says during her husband’s terms as president, he added 23 million new jobs and incomes went up for everyone.
“We lifted more people out of poverty. With a record like that, you would think that the next Republican administration would look at the evidence about what works,” she said.
Clinton added when President Barack Obama was elected, he inherited the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
“Republicans want us to forget about that, but I can guarantee you, if I’m your nominee, they’re going to hear about it day in and day out,” she said.
Before closing, Clinton said she will tackle the price of prescription drugs, student debt refinancing and mass incarceration. She also said she will work to protect Social Security and Veteran Affairs.
“I want you to know what I’m going to do, how I’m going to do it and what it’s going to cost. I want you to hold me accountable,” she said.
Hip-Hop recording artist and activist Michael “Killer Mike” Render introduced Sanders, whom he has endorsed.
Render says Sanders is the one candidate with a social policy that matches Martin Luther King Jr., the militancy of Malcolm X and an effort to take care of the community like the Black Panthers.
“I am voting Bernie Sanders, as a black man, because his policies will make sure our communities have a fair and equal opportunity,” Render said.
Sanders said in 1963, he was with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for the March on Washington.
“(King) said no worker should be exploited. People deserve decent wages, decent healthcare and decent education,” Sanders said.
In the last months of King’s life, he was working on a poor people’s campaign, he continued.
“What he said was we’re going to go to the white poor people in Appalachia. We’re going to go to the Mexican farm workers in Texas. Then we’re going to go to the African American community in urban and rural areas. We’re going to go to Washington and fight for justice,” Sanders said.
Sanders said people cannot make it on minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour, in America.
“We’ve got to raise the minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour,” he said. “Women can’t receive 79 cents under dollar compared to men.”
Sanders said 51 percent of young African American kids should not be unemployed.
“Instead of investing in jails and incarceration, we’re going to invest in education and in jobs,” he said.
The U.S. has more people in jail than any other country on Earth, Sanders said.
If elected, Sanders says he plans to put young people to work and in school, not have millions of lives destroyed due to incarceration.
“We’re going to bring about police reform. When a police officer breaks the law, that officer must be held accountable,” he said.
Sanders says he will also focus on a pathway out of jail back into civil society.
The senator says he does not have a Super PAC, and does not receive millions of dollars from Wall Street.
He went on to say that he does not believe in the death penalty, NAFTA and trade agreements.
“If we don’t demand that every person in this country has healthcare as a right, trust me, the drug companies and insurance companies will be just happy,” Sanders said.
He asked the crowd to help him change the priorities of the country, so the U.S. has a government that works for all the people, not just the people on top.