GALIVANTS FERRY, S.C. – Former Vice President Joe Biden got a special entrance Monday evening to the 2019 Galivants Ferry Stump.
Biden, who served as vice president under Barack Obama, was played on and off the stage surrounding the stump by the Wilson High School marching band.
Biden was the third of four 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to speak at the stump. Speaking before him were “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. Speaking after him was New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Considered the oldest and largest political “stump speaking” in the United States, the Galivants Ferry Stump has its roots in the gubernatorial campaign of Gen. Wade Hampton in 1876 when he announced in Galivants Ferry. Four years later, local businessman Joseph Holliday invited county Democratic candidates to speak from his Galivants Ferry store, which was a local gathering place. The Holliday family, now in the fifth generation, has been hosting the event on their property on the banks of the Pee Dee River every biennial since then.
Biden began his speech by discussing his enjoyment of coming to South Carolina for the stump.
"It’s good to be back,” Biden said. “I know I’m going to offend other states, but this is my favorite single event in all the campaigns. I’ve been coming here for so long. It’s great to be back in the Stump.”
Biden also shared a story about the late Fritz Hollings, a former senator from South Carolina. Hollings was among several senators to encourage Biden, who served in the U.S. Senate from 1973-2009, to go back the Senate when his wife was killed in a car accident after he took office.
“As they say up my way, he’s the guy that brung me to the dance,” Biden said. “I didn’t want to go to the Senate after the accident involving my family when I got elected when I was 29. He got about five other Senators and came up and talked me into coming.”
Biden said Hollings told him that only 1,720 people had been sworn into the Senate, and Biden’s first wife who died in the accident had worked like a dog to get him elected, and he owed it to her to go to the Senate. He added Hollings asked him to come for six months.
“Six months turned into a really long time,” Biden said.
Most of Biden's speech focused on the need to replace President Donald Trump with someone capable and experienced in leadership.
Klobuchar was the first speaker of the night.
She started by sharing a story about her mentor, Paul Wellstone, a former Senator from Minnesota, involving South Carolina. Wellstone had just finished his first speech on the Senate floor when he was approached by Hollings.
Hollings, she said, told Wellstone that he reminded him of another Minnesota senator, Hubert Humphrey.
Wellstone told her that he was honored.
Then, Hollings added that Wellstone “talked too much.”
Klobuchar emphasized her ability to win independent voters during her speech, saying that her state, Minnesota, and South Carolina both have a tradition of independent voters. She also called for Democrats to be the party of rural America in the 2020 election, emphasizing that Democrats were fighting against climate change and for those who have higher levels of lead in their water.
“I want to thank my opponents who are here tonight,” Klobuchar said. “Buttigieg, Biden, and de Blasio? What do they have in common? B— B names. I say one thing: A comes before B.”
She also said Trump is running the country “like a game show.” She also said Trump is treating farmers and workers like a poker chip in one of his casinos.
Buttigieg went between Klobuchar and Biden.
Buttigieg shared his connection to South Carolina.
“Every time I come to this state, I think about the first time that I saw those tall trees. It was out the windows of the bus that was taking me to Fort Jackson,” Buttigieg said. “I was a Navy guy, so I wasn't exactly sure what I was supposed to be doing at Fort Jackson … but … the Navy decided they needed me to go do Army stuff. So, they sent me here to South Carolina.
“In other words, the first time I came here, it was in order to prepare to serve – and now I am here once again, prepared to serve and asking for your help in making that happen."
He emphasized that Democrats traditionally are elected to office when they have a member of the next generation providing hope and optimism to the country.
Speaking last was de Blasio, who is behind in the polls.
Two of the people in the crowd of approximately 2,500 attending the stump were Mike Chase and his wife.
They made an 80-mile drive Monday to be among like-minded Americans.
Chase, a resident of Southport, North Carolina – located across the Cape Fear River from Wilmington – traveled to Galivants Ferry for the stump.
Southport, Chase said, is a strongly leaning Trump area.
Brunswick County, where Southport is located, voted 62.5% in favor of Trump in 2016. It has not had a Democratic presidential candidate win a majority of votes since Jimmy Carter in 1980 with 52%, though Bill Clinton did receive 45.4% of the votes in 1992.
Heading into the stump, Chase was leaning toward supporting Biden.
Biden leads many polls, but Elizabeth Warren is the betting favorite of being the Democratic nominee as of Tuesday. She was was not in attendance at the stump.
However, the Warren campaign did have a booth, as did candidates Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Tulsi Gabbard and Julian Castro.
Sanders and Gabbard were also scheduled to attend the stump but canceled. Sanders canceled because he needed time for his voice to recover following several days of campaigning. Gabbard’s campaign announced a schedule of events in Iowa for Monday.
A volunteer wearing an Andrew Yang shirt was also seen by the Morning News.
The stump was not limited to presidential candidates. Also in attendance were Jamie Harrison— he also spoke to introduce master of ceremonies John C. Land III, a retired state senator from Manning, taking the place of Rep. James “Jim” Clyburn, who was supposed to attend but did not— and Gloria Tinubu, both running against Republican Lindsey Graham for one of South Carolina’s two U.S. Senate seats.
In the crowd were S.C. Sen. Gerald Malloy and S.C. Reps. Terry Alexander and Mandy Powers Norrell.
The Republican National Committee issued a statement about the Stump.
"Today, 2020 Democrats will discuss radical policies that would institute a government-takeover of healthcare, eliminate all fossil fuels, and destroy our booming economy,” spokesman Joe Jackson said. “Meanwhile, families across South Carolina continue to see more jobs, low unemployment rates and strong economic growth because of the policies instituted by President Trump and Republicans.”
Also, at around 3:30 p.m., a person carrying a Trump sign was seen across the street from the stump.