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DENMARK – Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke held a town hall event at Voorhees College on Saturday afternoon, discussing issues ranging from veterans’ benefits to guns.

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Voorhees College senior Nathanial Kemp said the town hall was informative.

“I like what he said about immigration because you shouldn’t be isolated from the world just because of your background. Another thing that I found that was very useful was the universal background check and gun laws. He knows what he’s talking about. He seems compassionate,” Kemp said.

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O’Rourke discussed President Trump, stating that his actions are divisive.

“What this president is trying to do is divide us by our differences of faith, or race, or ethnicity, or sexual orientation, or how many generations you can count your family in America, or whether you just got here yesterday or last week,” O’Rourke said.

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“Those differences cannot be allowed to define us, or divide us, or keep us apart, or angry, or afraid,” O’Rourke stated.

O’Rourke fielded several questions, including one about how he will implement his plans.

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He said he will find Republicans he can work with on legislation.

Rosella Cooper, a Denmark resident and veteran, asked O’Rourke about possible benefits for Reserves veterans who do not complete 20 years of service.

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“Given the fact that this country has been at war in Afghanistan going now on our 18th year, so many members of the Guard and the Reserve involve putting their lives on the line, losing their lives for this country,” he stated.

“It should be rewarded the same way that we reward service and sacrifice by active-duty service members in every other branch of the military,” he stated.

Bamberg County Councilman Evert Comer said he thinks O’Rourke is sincere.

“I think he really cares about America, and I believe he’s sincere about his visions for America. I believe he would try and carry out all of what he said he is interested in trying to accomplish,” Comer said.

Comer said there is a need for a strong Democratic presidential candidate.

“We need somebody who can make Democrats successful in 2020, and we don’t know who that will be,” Comer said. “We just need somebody who can carry the banner and get the White House back.”

Comer said there needs to be an emphasis on addressing the many issues that are evident in rural communities.

“We need industrial development, we need industries to look at these small, rural towns,” Comer stated.

“He talked about rural health. He talked about infrastructure in rural America. There’s a lot of infrastructure that needs to be done, and we need someone who’s going to push that on the national level,” Comer said.

Susan Rowell of Hampton said it was exciting to listen to O’Rourke discuss several topics.

“I was glad to hear him talk about a range of different issues, especially including our education disparities and our problems with the prices of prescription drugs,” she said. “I would like to have heard some more discussion of foreign affairs and how we extricate ourselves from all of these wars.”

Rowell stated that the country will only progress with bipartisanship.

“I don’t think we can make progress as a country, especially the way so many young people want to see, and the way we need, until we can work together as Democrats and Republicans,” Rowell said.

O’Rourke visited South Carolina State University last month.

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Contact the writer: bharris@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5516

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Staff Writer

Bradley Harris is a Government and Sports Reporter. The Irmo, SC native is a 2018 graduate of Claflin University and recipient of the 2018 South Carolina Press Association Collegiate Journalist of the Year Award.

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