While they were attending the Republican presidential debate in Myrtle Beach, Union County Clerk of Court Freddie Gault and his son not only got to see and hear the candidates debate, they also got to see them literally take shape before their eyes.
Gault, the only Republican officeholder in Union County, and his son, Jon Nick Gault, attended a series of Republican Party activities last weekend including Monday’s GOP presidential debate. When they arrived last Saturday, Gault said they found people hard at work building the candidates from the ground up.
“Across from the Myrtle Beach Convention Center they were building a sand sculpture of all the remaining candidates,” Gault said. “The sand was brought in and the sculpture was being built by hand in the days leading up to the debate. We watched it being sculpted.”
The sand sculpture featured the images and last names of Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Gary Johnson and Rick Perry.
Impressive as the sand sculpture was, Gault was even more impressed by Monday night’s debate, especially the performances by Gingrich and Santorum.
“I really believe that Santorum and Gingrich did better at that debate on issues such as military/national defense, health care and on trying get jobs back into the United States,” Gault said. “Romney did good in some prior debates, but on Monday he wasn’t as on top as the other two were.”
Gault, who is a co-captain of Santorum’s Union County campaign team, also discussed Perry’s decision to drop out of the race.
“I think (Jon) Huntsman and Perry saw this as the right time to drop out of the race,” Gault said. “It may be good for people in South Carolina who may have been considering voting for one of them as this will allow them to look elsewhere and vote for a candidate who will continue in the race.”
Perry is the fourth of the nine candidates listed on the ballot for Saturday’s Republican Presidential Preference Primary to drop out of the race. Herman Cain, Michelle Bachman and Jon Huntsman had already dropped out with Huntsman endorsing Romney. Since dropping out after Monday’s debate, Perry has endorsed Gingrich.
In the days leading up to the debate, Gault and his son attended several other events including a Sunday morning prayer breakfast attended by Santorum and Perry; a Monday luncheon hosted by SC Republican Party Chairman Chad Connelly; and a debate between some of the Republican candidates for the new District 7 congressional seat.
Gault said the events were well-attended by both local and state GOP officials including Gov. Nikki Haley who he said divided her time between Myrtle Beach and campaigning for Romney.
“Four of the five Republican members of the congressional delegation were present including Jeff Duncan, Tim Scott, Joe Wilson and Mick Mulvaney,” Gault said. “All the state constitutional officers were there including Gov. Haley who was there at times but was back and forth on the campaign trail with Romney. Jon Nick and I spent a lot of time with State Treasurer Curtis Loftis. Attorney General Alan Wilson and Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom were there and we spent some time with them as well.”
Gault also got to meet with a number of his fellow Republicans who, like him, hold county office.
“There were a lot of county officials from around the state,” Gault said. “There were county officials and state officials and I had the opportunity to sit and talk with them one on one about issues going on across the state.”
Gault said his son, a student at Wofford College and a member of the college’s Republican Party, took the opportunity to talk with GOP officeholders and activists and present his views as well.
“This was an opportunity for him as a college student to sit down with the same people I was,” Gault said. “He was able to talk with them about the issues concerning his age group.”
The Republican Presidential Preference Primary is being held today. Polls close at 7 p.m.