NOTE: News13 has reached out to Senator Lindsey Graham for a one-on-one interview and have not yet heard back.
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — News13’s Meghan Miller talked to Jaime Harrison Friday ahead of his Saturday visit to Wilson High School in Florence.
Harrison’s rally begins at 5 p.m.
In the interview, Harrison talked about the state of the race, why the race is getting so much attention, rural health care, the affordable care act, South Carolina’s workforce, infrastructure and broadband, second amendment rights and gun control, and the Supreme Court confirmation.
The state of the race
Harrison currently leads Senator Lindsey Graham by 2% in a new poll by Morning Consult. Polls across the board have generally been fluctuating between the two candidates.
“I think it’s because we have built a grassroots campaign on hope,” Harrison said. “The past few years, there’s been so much chaos and division in our country. So many hard things, particularly this year given the coronavirus. People are just looking for reprieve, they’re looking for someone who will bring us all together. They’re looking for someone who will help build and revitalize communities across this state.”
Harrison said he used to look up to Lindsey Graham, but that Lindsey Graham is different than the current Lindsey Graham.
“This Lindsey Graham cares more about his own political power, political relevance, and playing the Washington political games,” Harrison said. “We just need someone here who’s going to fight for the folks in South Carolina, making sure that we can address the issues that people are dealing with on a day-to-day basis. “
Harrison believes the race is so close because people are looking for an alternative.
Jaime Harrison has raised a record $57 million last quarter and it’s all been spent. It’s the highest amount of money ever raised in one quarter in a senate race.
Rural hope agenda
Harrison said there hasn’t been anyone in the senate in a long time that has been a champion for the rural parts of the state.
He said when he first got into this race he asked himself why a place like South Carolina with so many amazing people and beautiful landscapes is always consistently at the top of all of the bad lists and at the bottom of all the good lists.
“When you look at issues like the economy, economic opportunity, education, health care, infrastructure, and I started looking at where the sources, where we are dragging ourselves down as a state and it’s happening in our rural communities,” Harrison said. “These are communities that have historically been left out.”
Harrison believes bringing broadband, better roads, better water, saving rural hospitals from closing and improving schools can help South Carolina rise to the top of all of the good lists.
“When you take a look at the issue of broadband, just in and of itself, 38% of rural communities in South Carolina don’t have broadband,” Harrison said.
Harrison said broadband is the infrastructure of the 21st century, and broadband access is needed much like electricity is needed.
“Our kids can’t compete with the rest of the world if they can’t connect with the rest of the world,” Harrison said. “We’ve seen the importance of broadband right now because we’re in the midst of a pandemic.”
Harrison said access to affordable health care — especially in rural communities — has become a top priority in his campaign. He said his rural hope agenda could help protect hospitals in those communities and make sure people have access to quality health care.
Harrison called Medicaid expansion “important” in South Carolina.
“We have almost 250,000 people in this state that don’t have healthcare,” Harrison said. “But if they lived in 38 other states they would.”
Harrison said South Carolina leaders have blocked healthcare dollars from coming into the state.
“Our leaders allowed their politics and their perception of Barak Obama and the affordable care act to influence their decision on whether or not this was good policy in the best interest of the people of South Carolina,” Harrison said. “If we would’ve done this for any other thing, why are we standing in the doorway and preventing it now?”
Harrison said health care is desperately needed due to the pandemic and hundreds of thousands of people have lost their employer-provided healthcare.
“I don’t believe in just a government-run health care,” Harrison said. “I believe we can have a marriage between a private sector health care and public option that is there to be a security net for those folks who may not have their own health care through their employer.”
Infrastructure and bringing jobs to South Carolina
Harrison said infrastructure is crucial. He said the poor roads in South Carolina are a roadblock for investment.
“Folks don’t want to come to your state and have their factories if your roads and your bridges are falling apart,” Harrison said.
He also said there needs to be an investment into education in the state to make sure kids get what they need in order to be attractive employees for corporations that are here. Harrison claimed a lot of the big companies that move to the state have to bring workers from other states to get the high-paying jobs at those companies.
“Why should we as South Carolinians give these big companies tax breaks to come here and then they not employ the people from South Carolina?” Harrison asked. “That’s not right.”
Second amendment and gun control
“This should not be controversial,” Harrison said. “I’m a strong supporter of the Second Amendment.”
Harrison also said some people just shouldn’t have guns.
“Many of us believe in that, but we also believe that there are certain people in our society that should not have guns. There are certain people in our society like Dylann Roof who should not have received a gun that he utilized down at Mother Emanuel,” Harrison said, referencing the shooting in Charleston that killed nine people.
Harrison said he used to take his interns every summer to a local trap and skeet center to give them a healthy respect for having a gun and how to use one.
Harrison said some of the loopholes need closed to prevent incidents like that.
Supreme Court confirmation
Harrison said he has a lot of questions he would want to ask Amy Coney Barrett. He said Barrett has the qualification of being certified by the American Bar Association, but wants to know where she stands on issues in the courts that have led to the progress made in the country.
- Clouds Increasing Today, Some Could See Some Showers
- PHOTOS: Christmas lights shine bright for holiday season across Grand Strand, Pee Dee
- Oxford Dictionaries names ‘goblin mode’ its word of the year
- Power could be out for days in North Carolina county after electrical substations hit by gunfire
- Bear moves into Florida neighborhood, eats residents’ avocados