NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Democratic Presidential candidate Kamala Harris hosted her first campaign event in South Carolina Friday night in North Charleston.
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris, D-CA, spoke to a crowd of more than 1,000 people at Royal Missionary Baptist Church as a part of one of two of her town hall meetings in the Palmetto State.
“I believe that South Carolina will elect the next President of the United States,” Sen. Harris, said.
In her first visit to Charleston as a presidential candidate, Sen. Harris met with Lowcountry locals, ate Lowcountry BBQ at Rodney Scott’s BBQ, and held her first town hall meeting in South Carolina.
Sen. Harris chowed down on a pull-pork sandwich, collard greens and cornbread as she sat with the owner, Rodney Scott, and her sister, Maya.
Prior to Sen. Harris’ lunch, she visited Mother Emanuel AME church where Charleston church shooter, Dylan Roof, murdered nine churchgoers during bible study. News 2 asked Sen. Harris her views on gun safety laws Friday.
“The reality is that on this issue of gun safety, we’re not sitting around waiting for another tragedy to occur in order to do the right thing because we’ve seen the worst tragedies you can image,” she said. “We have seen babies killed, we have seen worshippers in a church during bible study slaughtered. Universal background checks, that makes sense,” she said. “If somebody’s committed a violent crime or they have been shown by a court to be a threat to themselves or others you might want to know that before you let them buy a gun.”
During the town hall,the senator also spoke about a South Carolina law, often referred to as the Charleston loophole.
“I support the closing of the Charleston loophole,” she said.
Sen. Harris talked about a number of topics that directly affect the state of South Carolina including off shore drilling, climate control, education reform, the criminal justice system and racial issues.
As a part of the town hall, moderated by Brady Quirk-Garvan, Chairman of the Charleston County Democratic Party, Sen. Harris took questions from potential voters.
The first question on the floor involves mass incarceration and high school graduation rates.
“The U.S ranks first in incarceration but 18th in high school graduation. As president what solutions or policies do you bring to the table to reverse the numbers?” #chsnews @WCBD pic.twitter.com/UUlumN7t96— Deanne Roberts (@DeanneWCBD) February 15, 2019
“The U.S. ranks first in incarceration but 18th in high school graduation. As President what solutions or politcies do you bring to the table to help reverse the numebers?” asked Thomas Polkey, a Charleston County high school student.
Sen. Harris said that the issue with mass incarceration has to deal with the fact that many people who enter into the justice system have a lack of education and become a part of a vicious cycle of constantly being in and out of jail.
“We have put more emphasis on incarcerating people than we have on educating our children,” she said.
Polkey said he wanted to get her thoughts on mass incarceration.
“As a black man, I wanted to know if she were elected President what policies she would put in place that could ultimately impact me,” Polkey said. “I feel like it was a very important topic to discuss because it needs to be discussed and I think every President should talk about the school to prison pipeline.”
There’s a lot of controversy stemming around Sen. Harris’ take on criminal justice reform, due to her previous roles as a prosector, district attorney and state attorney general. News 2 asked her how she is addressing this controversy during her presidential campaign.
Some people who attended the town hall say with many presidential candidates, they are trying to figure out who to vote for.
“I know who I’m not voting for and so I’m really just using this time to figure out who I am voting for,” said Myrtle Beach resident, Elizabeth Parker.
Others saying tonight, sealed the deal on their vote.
“She is coming to fight and she is coming to win,” siad Myrtle Beach resident, Noah Glasgough. “2020 is certainly going to be one of the most contested elections in U.S history.”
“She is just so geniune and just a people person,” said Gretchen Morgan, President of the Gamma Xi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
Morgan is Sen. Harris’ sorority sister. AKA is the first African-American greek organization that prides itself on sisterhood, scholarship and service to all mankind. The community service based organization has well over 300,000 members in the United States. Some believe Sen. Harris’ AKA sisterhood could be the key to her winning the presidency. Morgan says the local Charleston AKA chapter plans to help elect the presidential hopeful.
“We are going to pull up our sleeves and get out there and get people to vote, and even take them to the polls if they need a way there,” Morgan said.
Sen. Harris made a promise that this is not her last visit to Charleston or the Palmetto state.
“I plan on spending a lot of time here and coming back,” she said. Sen. Harris will host her second town hall in Columbia on Saturday.