Democratic women of Horry County got their digs in against the Republican presidential candidates on Monday, for a good cause.
The Democratic Women’s Council of Horry County gave a $200 donation to Mothers Against Violence in exchange for the opportunity to shovel away the faces of Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry that were cast in construction sand for the Jan. 16 GOP debate in Myrtle Beach.
The sand sculpture, known as Mount Myrtle, was a popular attraction for visitors, as were the two original Mount Myrtles created for the 2008 GOP and Democratic debates held here.
But the mountain cannot stand forever. The construction sand must be recycled because it is used for other events, such as the annual Sun Fun Festival. Council President Sally P. Howard said she knew that and approached the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce asking if her group could demolish the sculpture.
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“We just wanted to have some fun with it. It’s the women, cleaning up after the men, again,” Howard said jokingly, calling the teardown a shovel-ready project for Horry County.
Apparently, the humor didn’t translate for area Republicans.
“I think it’s a symbolic violence,” said Lonnie Gabbard, a snowbird from Ash County, N.C. “They attacked the mound -- the noses and the eyes. They were chanting. I can’t believe they’d do something like this.
“If this is what we’re up against, it’s going to be an interesting summer.”
South Strand Republican Club President Chuck Ottwell also expressed his displeasure.
“It’s kind of in poor taste, I think,” Ottwell said. “We could have worked together. We’ve supported Mothers Against Violence, too. White people were involved in the Martin Luther King, Jr. parade.”
GOP activist Jon Bonsignor was shocked and angry that the chamber didn’t offer the Republicans the opportunity to tear down the sculpture after the Democrats asked permission.
“They didn’t even ask us what we thought about it,” he said.
But Howard and the other women said they saw this as an opportunity for their group and to make a contribution.
“This is an important election,” said Sara Binkley of North Myrtle Beach, the council’s vice president. “The GOP has spread so much nastiness this time around, and we wanted to show the difference between the party of negativity and the party of opportunity.”
Some members of Mothers Against Violence were at the site of the sculpture, across from the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, and they, too, took up shovels and tore down the mound. As they watched Howard direct a front-end loader to really make some dents in the sand sculpture, they chanted “Four more years” and “Yes we can.”
Howard and the other women said the work of Mothers Against Violence -- a group started by local women who have lost children to violence and crime -- is serious, but the teardown was not meant to be anything but fun.
“We were happy to have the debate here. We were happy to have all the attention on Myrtle Beach,” Howard said. “We just wanted people to know there are Democrats in Horry County, too.”