South Carolina's Tea Party Senate Debate: Climate Change 'Gobbledygook,' Impeaching Obama, And Revising MLK

We’ve written quite a bit about South Carolina state senator Lee Bright, who is challenging Sen. Lindsey Graham in the state’s Republican primary this year. But Bright is hardly alone in the race to topple Graham. Over Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend, the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition held a convention that included a lively debate between Bright and his three fellow Tea Party candidates vying for the chance to face Graham in a runoff.

Perhaps the most memorable candidate at the debate was Bill Connor, an Army veteran and former lieutenant governor candidate, who spent the whole debate waving a pocket copy of the Constitution.

We put together a highlight reel of Connor’s commentary during the debate, including his assertions that the Europeans he fought alongside in Afghanistan were less hard-working and ingenious than American soldiers because “Europe had gone socialist” and “post-Christian”; that Congress should impeach President Obama over his executive order implementing part of the DREAM Act; that the separation of church and state has led “atheism to be our national religion”; and that Congress should disband federal appeals courts that enforce church-state separation because “if you’re being biblical, you’re doing your job as a judge.”

Another memorable moment was when the moderator asked all four candidates to react to Sen. Graham’s former support for legislation to combat climate change.

The first candidate, businesswoman Nancy Mace, claimed that a recent freeze disproved the fact that climate change exists. Bright contended that climate change was a “scam” concocted by people out to make money. Another candidate, Richard  Cash – who owns a “fleet of neighborhood ice cream trucks” --was “open to the idea that there’s possibly global warming,” but claimed that there’s not “enough evidence” yet to create policy. Connor, for his part, called climate change “gobbledygook,” a point he illustrated by asking everybody in the audience to take a deep breath and breathe it out, then telling them, “you’re putting carbon deposits in the air and you’re causing global warming.”

And a roundup of the debate would not be complete without Cash’s opening statement, in which he edited Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech to be about banning abortion.