The JEB! town hall event in Columbia offered a well-organized and heavily attended media presence, along with the ever-popular “Circus” reporters from Showtime.
The campaign stop boasted a relaxed atmosphere, with little to no police presence — and as far as I could see — only a single secret service agent, who seemed to be even-tempered and relaxed, even when the crowd rushed to snap photos with Jeb after the talk.
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.
Jeb was welcoming and calm, wearing dark jeans and black cowboy boots — a throwback to his Texas days. He wore no tie and donned a dark blue blazer, which featured both the American flag and the South Carolina state flag. His humility was apparent by his breezy entrance, even with poll numbers predicting a poor performance on election night.
Before Jeb spoke, a special event coordinator came by and asked if an older couple and myself wanted to sit directly behind Jeb as he spoke — as if to say, you are the kind of folks we want to be seen behind our candidate on C-Span.
We all declined. I told her who I was, who I represented, and stated it was important that I ask a question. She sent a slew of reporters to speak with me after we spoke and I was later interviewed by several media outlets, including Jodi Edna from CNN. She and I would meet up again at a Trump event later in the week for a meaningful exchange.
Special guests at Jeb’s event included an endorsement from retired Four-Star Admiral Robert Natter, Senator Lindsey Graham and Bobby Williams of the famed Lizard’s Thicket Restaurant (apparently visited by Rubio and Candy Carson by the pictures shown on the restaurant’s website) who, out of the three, seemed most out of place.
Senator Lindsey Graham spoke kindly about Jeb, his experience and why he believed he should be the next commander-in-chief. Jeb followed Senator Graham and spoke about his business experience leading a real estate development firm as an entrepreneur, even likening himself to Trump. He was quick to point out that although he and Trump both have business experience, Trump has no experience in running a state, much less a country.
Although Jeb was currently ranked last in the South Carolina polls, his message was clear, thoughtful and lacking in some of the dirty political maneuvers that current society craves. I was grateful he took a question from me at a live C-Span Town Hall event, where I asked:
“As a veteran, military spouse, a mom and a volunteer with USMC Life, having now faced this 15-year war, massive budget cuts, aging aircraft and failing VA medical system, how done you intend to motivate a tired and debilitated and disillusioned force… especially now with the threat of terror and ISIS here in the United States?”
Jeb took his time, answering every part of the question. Later, playing his response to a room of Marine Officers, their overall reaction was positive to all of his statements. See the exchange covered from C-Span below:
What I appreciated most from this experience was that every question was genuine and not vetted ahead of time. People were free to ask whatever they wanted to ask of the candidate, despite who was in the room. I have a lot of respect for Jeb Bush and his team for allowing the Town Hall to be so transparent to those who were there listening.
Click to navigate to page 3: Kasich’s Quiet March
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 Bush, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or skip to her final thoughts.
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.