Over the weekend I had the pleasure of joining Students for Rubio volunteers in South Carolina, where we helped campaign for Senator Rubio in the days leading up to the primary. Regardless of primary candidate preference, it was fascinating to see Republicans come together and vote in a critical early state in the nominating process. Unfortunately, not everyone enjoys witnessing this type of gathering.
The night before the Republican primary, Democratic National Committee Vice Chairwoman Donna Brazile tweeted the following:
Campaigning for Marco Rubio with SC Sen. Tim Scott, SC Gov. Nikki Haley said the trio looked like a Benneton ad. The audience, not so much.— Donna Brazile (@donnabrazile) February 21, 2016
Brazile referenced Governor Nikki Haley, who two days prior had said a crowd of Rubio supporters looked “like a Benneton commercial,” a reference to the fashion company known for its diverse models. Haley’s comments echo a theme the Rubio campaign has been consistently advancing, that the “New American Century” can be representative of all while boasting a new brand of conservatism.
For Democrats, that’s a scary prospect because it threatens their racial scare tactics and limited depictions of Republicans as old, straight, white, Christian men. In reality, the Republican party has always been, and continues to be, one that includes Americans from a wide variety of backgrounds. I was in the crowd Brazile was referring to, and immediately upon my arrival at the event I was conscious of the crowd’s diversity. South Carolinians old and young, black and white, male and female listened to their young, Indian-American governor make the case for a conservative agenda. She was joined by Tim Scott, a young, African-American senator from South Carolina whom the crowd adored.
The make up of that crowd mirrored what I saw the next day at the Rubio primary night rally in Columbia. Afterwards I spoke with two African-American women, who said they supported Senator Rubio because he was a “strong conservative” who understands the problems in our government. One said specifically he would be a “good face to put forth to the world.”
Say what you will about overhyped second-place finishes or the Republican party as a whole, but one thing we should all celebrate is the wonderful variety we have to offer, especially when that variety makes the Democrats uncomfortable. And you don’t just have to take my word for it, you can ask Alex Boone, a Roanoke College volunteer who noted the diversity of the Rubio crowd even before Democrats took to Twitter to say that there was none.
Brazile also had this to say:
The South Carolina GOP primary is where political civility goes to die.— Donna Brazile (@donnabrazile) February 21, 2016
With all due respect, Ms. Brazile, political civility would be well-served by getting the full picture before making sweeping observations about the voters. To do otherwise is lazily inaccurate, and the people of South Carolina and elsewhere deserve better.