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South Carolina guide to the COVID-thwarted Democratic and Republican national conventions | Palmetto Politics

Look for former S.C. governor Nikki Haley and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott to speak on President Donald Trump’s behalf at the Republican National Convention a week from now.

And you’ll see Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn on Monday night live from Charleston promoting Joe Biden and his vice presidential pick Kamala Harris.

With the coronavirus pandemic canceling the arena-sized gatherings that traditionally mark the restart of the campaign season, South Carolina party apparatchiks have made adjustments toward energizing 2020.

Some of our state’s leaders will be featured prominently, albeit remotely over the next two weeks.

Here’s a breakdown of where the conventions stand for South Carolina’s two delegations, though details are subject to change and participation formats are still being set.


Convention City: Milwaukee

Dates: Was supposed to be July 13-16 at Fiserv Forum. Then it was moved to Aug. 17-20 because of the pandemic.

Now, after it was confirmed Biden would not travel to accept the nomination, it’s all being done virtually and with abbreviated prime-time coverage on the major networks. The party’s convention viewing link is

Size of state delegation: Normally, S.C. Democrats have 66 traveling delegates, plus assorted other attendees, VIPs and family members. But there’s no reason to be in Milwaukee this year.

Voting on party platform/nominee: All done in advance. Portal closes Sunday.

COVID-19 concerns: No sanctioned large gatherings.

Interesting factoid: In addition to closed internet activities beginning Sunday, S.C. delegates are still getting their traditional “goody bags” of gifts historically presented when they arrive in a host city. They include T-shirts, buttons, programs and assorted swag.

What other Democrats are doing: Clyburn will speak remotely from Charleston on Monday night. Others among the Monday lineup are Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders and former Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich.

U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham of Charleston will take part in a closed virtual panel discussion Monday afternoon called “Addressing Climate Risk and Global Energy Demands,” with the Blue Dog Coalition, his office said. The focus is public and private sector efforts to curb climate change and reduce carbon footprints.

U.S. Senate nominee Jamie Harrison’s campaign said they could not share what his involvement might be. They referred comment to the convention’s media office, which did not respond. 

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Quotable: “I think the Democratic Party has an advantage because we’ve always been preparing for this, as opposed to Donald Trump who said we were going to have it in Florida and North Carolina and then realized it was not going to happen,” state party Chairman Trav Robertson said. 


Convention City: Charlotte

Dates: Was supposed to be four days, Aug. 24-27, at the Spectrum Center.

Now the main event is 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 24 in the ballroom of the Westin Charlotte, though there are other party meetings and events going on during the four days and nights. 

Size of state delegation: Normally the South Carolina GOP sends 50 delegates, plus alternates and an assortment of other guests and elected officials.

This year the total size is six participants, mirroring all the GOP state delegations.

The S.C. lineup includes: RNC National Committeeman Glenn McCall and Committeewoman Cindy Costa; state party Chairman Drew McKissick; two members of the credentials committee, Mark Hartley of Charleston and Shery Smith of Sumter County; and state delegation chairman Gov. Henry McMaster.

Those six will join the reduced body of delegates carrying proxies from their respective states to renominate Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

COVID-19 concerns: Guests have to take a COVID test before the convention, masks will be worn and people will be spread out, the party said. The event is closed to the media, but it will be livestreamed.

Interesting factoid: When Trump suggested the convention be moved to Jacksonville, Fla., the S.C. delegation was expecting to be housed at the same hotel alongside staffers from Fox News assigned to cover the event. 

What other Republicans are doing: Participation by Haley, Trump’s former U.N. ambassador, and Scott, R-S.C., was confirmed by their respective spokespeople, but dates and times of their appearances are still being arranged and were not immediately released.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said this week he saw no reason to go to Charlotte for the brief amount of business. He is willing to attend Trump’s nomination acceptance speech, last reported to be delivered from the White House grounds, if he’s invited. 

First Congressional District nominee Nancy Mace has nothing scheduled tied to the convention, her campaign said.

Quotable: “At the end of the day the most important thing is winning in November, and that’s what we’re planning on doing,” McKissick said.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 843-937-5551. Follow him on Twitter at @skropf47.

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