Hundreds of Horry County citizens came out this morning to show their support for Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and a democratic candidate for President, as he spoke at the Conway Riverwalk.
“He’s a very refreshing candidate,” said Ashley Thomas of Myrtle Beach. “I like what he represents. We need to get back to some sort of moderation. Not so far to the left or the right.”
Paul and Vicki Smink of Conway came out with their son William to see what Buttegieg had to say.
“I think it’s great that someone from the LGBTQ community is taking a shot at the White House,” the younger Mr. Smink said.
Murrells Inlet resident Pat Andrews made the drive to Conway to see Buttigieg speak.
“I love to listen to someone intelligent, respectable, and who actually served in the military,” Andrews said.
Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy introduced Mayor Buttigieg, and gave him a key to the city.
“I’ve given out many keys but rarely receive one,” 37-year-old Buttigieg said with a smile.
The main reason Buttigieg presented at the Riverwalk was to address more extreme weather, storms and flooding.
In his first 100 days as president, he said he wants to start a disaster commission “on how we do response and recovery.”
He said he wants to streamline the application process for flood assistance.
“The last thing a flood survivor needs is more paperwork,” Buttigieg said. “You should not be losing time having to navigate a bureaucratic maze.”
He also plans to reform catastrophic flood plans and update flood maps “so they reflect reality,” which was met by uproarious applause from the crowd.
Those who are reservists for FEMA will also be ensured that if they leave to help during a disaster, their job will be secure and waiting for them when they get back.
Buttigieg touched on a number of subjects important to his campaign.
He said he is concerned that the country is running out of time, that it is in a crisis that the country is underreacting to, and that tweets and divisiveness are tearing the country apart.
“The stakes are too high to take any of this sitting down,” Buttigieg said. “We send them [politicians] to Washington to fight for us, but they are more interesting in the part about fighting than about us.”
Buttigieg addressed the immigrant situation along the southern border, saying that he “didn’t know of any faith that would condone taking children out of the arms of parents.”
He also told the crowd that he thought there was more to freedom than cutting a regulation somewhere, and in reference to education, said that there needs to be a Secretary of Education who believes in public education.
While Trump’s wall probably won’t be built, he said, the county has real walls built in itself, causing what he called “minefields” around family holiday tables.
“Children in cages … the most powerful country in the world has nothing to fear from a child fleeing violence,” Buttigieg said.
He said he wants to propose a public healthcare plan for “all who want it.”
“It’s different than if I said if you want it or not – let Americans choose. I have faith you’ll make the right decision,” Buttigieg said.
Tackling systemic racism is also at the top of his list, as well as making sure “weapons of war are not on our streets.”
A number of attendees were concerned about the price of prescription drugs, and he wants to put a cap on out of pocket costs for prescriptions, and empower the government to negotiate drug prices. Drug companies that make their drug ridiculously expensive or scarce will face some sort of punishments, he said.
Combatting mental illness was also a top priority, and he said with teachers on the front lines of mental health care, he wants to be sure there is more support at schools so the teachers don’t have to be.
“It should be as easy to get an emotional or mental checkup as it is to get a physical one,” Buttigieg said. “We need to stop talking about [mental illness] like its only happening to some people in a corner.”
As for how he would handle Trump in a presidential debate, he said he would keep him from being able to change the subject, and “return the subject to every day life.”
When Trump talks about socialism, he said he would talk about working with the private sector to build his local economy.
“While he was getting ready to start Season 7 of Celebrity Apprentice, I was in combat training to go to Afghanistan,” Buttigieg said.
The mayor said he wanted Americans to enjoy a calmer Presidential presence.
“I want you to get up and turn on the TV and have your blood pressure go down instead of up,” he said.