The campus of BJU hosted four of the 2016 Republican candidates last Friday during the Faith and Family Forum.
Present were Dr. Ben Carson, Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz. The forum was hosted by the Palmetto Family Alliance and the Conservative Leadership Project and moderated by president and CEO of the Alliance, Oran Smith and South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson.
Each candidate was asked to share his position on several topics concerning both South Carolina and the nation as a whole.
Topics included the importance of faith in the public sector, choosing of Supreme Court justices, the separation of church and state, gun laws, the recent suit of the U.S. government by the state of South Carolina over the storage of nuclear waste, Guantanamo Bay, immigration, the treatment of law enforcement and veterans, environmental care and Planned Parenthood.
“The forum attended by over 5,000 presented an incredible opportunity for our student body and the greater Greenville community to see and hear from four leading presidential candidates,” said Randy Page, BJU’s director of public relations. “Through events such as these, students can learn more about the candidates and become more informed voters.”
Rob Edgar, senior business administration major and president of the Public Policy Organization, was in charge of organizing the volunteers for the event.
“I think the forum [was important] because of the opportunity for students to get involved,” Edgar said. “Most of us aren’t from Greenville, but I think it’s important to get involved wherever you are.”
The forum was a precursor to the Republican debate at the Peace Center Saturday night and the South Carolina Republican primary on Feb. 20.
The debate, hosted in the Peace Center in downtown Greenville, is being called the toughest one yet with the frontrunners clashing on anything and everything from the legacy of former president George W. Bush to immigration and tax policy.
The sudden death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia affected the event, prompting questions about the appointment of justices, the role of the president and judicial rights.
The Washington Post named Bush and Rubio the winners of the debate as well as the CBS moderators for their well-informed questions.
Sam Martinez, junior history major and a chairman of Millennials for Ted Cruz, sat in the third row at the debate.
“In my opinion, this debate differentiates the contenders from the pretenders in South Carolina,” Martinez said.
“Since this is the last debate before the South Carolina [Republican] primary and the second to last debate until a candidate is nominated, I felt like the candidates pulled out all the stops in regard to attacking [each other.]”
The South Carolina Republican primary, the second in the nation after New Hampshire, (Iowa being a caucus) will take place tomorrow.
With the exception of the 2012 cycle, South Carolina has been an accurate predictor of the eventual Republican nominee since picking Ronald Reagan in 1980.
The Washington Post has called South Carolina “the most important state in the 2016 primary.” The state is atypical for the South because of the large number of residents who have moved from out-of-state. The votes are therefore indicative of national opinion.