Fresh off endorsements from two S.C. Republican congressmen, Sen. Larry Grooms, a Berkeley County state senator seeking the 1st Congressional District seat, made his case to Beaufort County voters Thursday.
"I know I can be a part of what these (congressmen) are doing. I know I can be a good member of their team," Grooms told about two dozen residents who attended a candidate forum in Beaufort sponsored by Rep. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort. "And when (U.S. Rep.) Mick Mulvaney put his hand on my shoulder and said we want you to be part of our team ... that had an effect on me."
Mulvaney, of Indian Land, and U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan of Laurens endorsed Grooms on Thursday, calling him a like-minded conservative who can help them fight to rein in federal spending and cut debt.
A second congressional candidate, Shawn Pinkston, a Charleston attorney and former judge advocate general who served in Iraq, also spoke Thursday, denouncing the use of drones by law enforcement and encouraging continued U.S. involvement in the Middle East.
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"The one thing I'd hate to see is that my efforts and the efforts of other soldiers were in vain and we'll be back in the Middle East in 20 years fighting these same wars," said Pinkston, a married father of two and former communications director on Capitol Hill for a Kentucky senator.
Grooms also said the U.S. cannot leave the Middle East entirely.
"We can't just leave and abandon our friends over there," he said, referring to Israel.
Both candidates also agreed the government must play a role in environmental regulation to ensure clean air and water.
But they differed on how to implement term limits.
"I think eight years is an appropriate amount of time. I would limit myself to four terms," said Pinkston, who also said he would support a bill to create term limits for all members of Congress. "I think it's time we end the practice of ... being there for 30, 40 years because you do start to lose touch after a certain number of years."
Grooms said he, too, supports term limits but not self-imposed ones. Instead, he said he would support a bill to impose them on all members of Congress.
"The people who self-impose limits on themselves aren't the problem," he said.
Grooms and Pinkston are among 14 others seeking the Republican nomination in the March 19 primary for the seat held by Charleston Republican Tim Scott. Scott resigned the seat to replace Jim DeMint in the U.S. Senate.
Follow reporter Gina Smith at twitter.com/GinaNSmith.