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Ben Carson’s Presidential Campaign in South Carolina

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Meyer with Presidental hopeful Ben Carson after his Town Hall Event in South Carolina
Meyer with Presidental hopeful Ben Carson after his rally in South Carolina.

Ben Carson held his Election Night Rally in Greensville, SC at the Embassy Suites. The room was elegant, patriotic, and organized.

Security was somewhat tighter than the other candidates, but Dr. Carson himself was very approachable. He was willing to snap a picture and graciously give USMC Life a quick interview outside the hotel as he was heading into to prepare for the night’s returns.

Editor’s note: This is an in-depth series of Meyer’s accounts as a military spouse and veteran hitting the Presidential Campaign Trail in South Carolina. Read from the beginning or discover her experiences with Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or skip to her final thoughts.

I asked: “As a military spouse and a veteran, I work for USMC Life — what are your plans to take care of military spouses and veterans?” Click for his response to my question. 

I was able to enter the reception room well before the general public, a privilege given to media at events. I documented the room, food, layout and decor, and spoke to the employees shuffling about the room. I asked the bartenders if they volunteered for the event, assuming it might excite them to work with a presidential hopeful — they both kind of shrugged their shoulders and unenthusiastically shared that it was “just another night of work,” offering that they had already voted for Trump.

Carson's rally in South Carolina
A buffet of finger foods and appetizers await the crowd attending Ben Carson’s rally.

I was impressed with the buffet of free finger foods offered alongside coffee, water and tea. There was also a cash bar offered for those interested in some libations. The swag offered at the event was far more than any other candidate who mostly offered handheld cardboard posters and lawn signs. Carson’s team offered a variety of stickers along with temporary tattoos, signs with the mantra: Revive, Heal, Inspire, as well as black rubber bracelets scrawled with the same message. I loaded up.  

A group of Young Republican voters who sat giddily across the table discussed what brought them to support Dr. Carson before the event opened. Emory Doppelheuer, a college freshman said that “he liked his belief in Christianity… and how he’s open about that. I like that he’s level-headed, he’s better than Donald Trump and Donald Trump likes to explode; that’s not what we need in a presidency.” Emory went on to say that he was he was drawn to the Carson event for the “free food.” College freshmen, like young service members, are always happy to discover a free meal.

Eventually, the public was allowed to enter after passing through a metal detector and having their bags and personal items wanded and searched by Secret Service. The crowd swelled and waited with anticipation of the presidential hopeful.

Dr. Carson took the stage about 45 minutes after the event began, saying, “the media was here because they believe I’m going to be giving a concession speech” and then laughed, continuing, “this was a ‘we’re just beginning’ speech!”  He reminded the crowd that there were 17 candidates who’d applied for the job and only 6 remained — he’s still one of them.  

The moment Carson found out that Jeb dropped out. His son showing Carson on his phone the news...
The moment Carson discovered Jeb Bush dropped out of the race; his son shows him the news report.

Midway through his speech Carson learned that Jeb Bush had dropped out of the race. That left Carson being 1 of 5. The enthusiastic and joyful crowd, full of diehard supporters, had many positive things to say.  

Stephanie Holderfield, Campaign Director at Carson America, Inc. expressed that she would, “never vote for Cruz.” She relayed that she would not even entertain the idea of a race without Carson running as a candidate, supporting the statement of Cruz appearing to be a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Many evangelicals have thrown their support to Dr. Carson, echoing Holderfield, a LT in the USN stated, “Carson was the softer middle finger for those who are disenchanted with the current political process.”

By night’s end, the numbers had come in for South Carolina. Unfortunately, the celebratory crowd didn’t have much to cheer in the percentage Dr. Carson received from the voters in the state but they remained optimistic — even dancing — as the night wound down.  

It seems as if the miracle of Dr. Carson, was that he’s brought a legion of ordinary people into a “We the People” campaign, reminding us that we can make change possible, even if it’s from an idealistic point of view.

Click to navigate to page 7: Hillary’s Hopefuls

This is an in-depth series of Meyer’s accounts as a military spouse and veteran hitting the Presidential Campaign Trail in South Carolina. Read from the beginning or learn about her experiences with Jeb BushJohn Kasich, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or skip to her final thoughts.

Author, military spouse, and veteran Rebecca Meyer hits the campaign trails to meet the Presidential Candidates up close and personal.

About the Author: Rebecca Meyer, a veteran of the California National Guard, married to an active duty Marine Corps pilot, works part-time for GBX delivering curriculum to separating/retiring service members on behalf of the Department of Labor, writes a veteran’s blog with ACI Benefits, and most importantly is mother to a brilliant, sweet, tree-climbing, bike riding 4-year-old.

She grew up discussing politics around the dinner table and listening to talk radio on AM several nights as a family. She stepped into politics in the 8th grade after giving an award winning (Rotary Award) speech, firmly announcing that she would be the first woman president of the United States. She has fond memories of dancing around the room with her grandparents when Bush Jr. won the election in 2000. She remains an active part of the spouse community in Beaufort, South Carolina.

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