A political rally planned on Sept. 11 has prompted a spat between area Republicans and Democrats - again.
This time, activists in Lancaster plan a tea party rally with speeches on the U.S. Constitution and remembrances of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
The event is being organized by a group that includes Lancaster County GOP Chairman Winston Smith.
Democrats are asking questions in light of comments made this week by York County GOP Chairman Glenn McCall.
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McCall called on local Democrats to cancel plans for a barbecue dinner and candidates rally Sept. 11 in Rock Hill, saying the timing is inappropriate.
"September 11 is not a day for partisan political rallies," McCall said. "It's a time for us to look beyond what divides us and come together to remember those who lost their lives."
Now it's McCall's turn to respond again, said Richards McCrae, chairman of the York County Democrats.
"I assume he is equally offended by the tea party holding an event on September 11 and that he will issue a press release denouncing it similar to the one he sent out regarding ours," McCrae said.
That's not going to happen.
McCall said Thursday he has no problem with the tea party rally because it's not partisan in nature.
"There are Democrats and Republicans in the tea party," he said. "It's a nonpartisan event of citizens getting together. That's the key point."
Gubernatorial nominee Vincent Sheheen plans to attend the Democrats' rally, scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Boyd Hill Center in Rock Hill. Also expected are U.S. Rep. John Spratt, superintendent of education nominee Frank Holleman and local candidates.
This week, Sheheen campaign manager Trav Robertson blamed McCall for seeking to manufacture a controversy.
"There's nothing more fundamental to American freedom than the right for our citizens to gather and participate in democracy," Robertson said.
Candidates are not invited to speak at the Tea Party event, Smith said. Instead, the list of speakers includes:
Oran Smith, president of the Palmetto Family Council
Rowena Booker, co-founder of the S.C. Black Conservative Movement
Park Gillespie, a former U.S. House candidate now helping the campaign of Spratt challenger Mick Mulvaney
Austin Johnson, a conservative teen from Rock Hill known for his energetic speaking style
It's impossible to predict whether speakers will mention specific candidates when they take the podium, Smith said.
"When you get speakers up there and everybody's got their own mind, it's hard to say what somebody will or won't say," he said. "Some people might say we need more conservative senators like Sen. Jim DeMint.
"That doesn't make it partisan. That's pointing to his conservative credentials."
The event marks the seventh Tea Party rally held in Lancaster since April 2009. Hundreds turned out on Tax Day, Independence Day and Sept. 12, a choice meant to recognize the new world facing America, Smith said.
Nine years after the attacks, the question of what's appropriate on Sept. 11 remains a source of debate. Smith said it should be a time when Americans remember the country's founding principles.
"It's December 7 for our generation," he said, referring to the date of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. "That was a defining moment. That's what September 11 should be."