Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders fans duel with chants ahead of Winthrop forum
The first in the South Democratic forum is just wrapped in Byrnes Auditorium at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow spoke with presidential candidates Martin O'Malley, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, in that order.
Check back for more coverage.
After a gradual arrival of politicos, journalists and attendees on Winthrop University’s campus Friday afternoon, activity spiked this evening when organizers allowed ticket holders to form a line to get in to the “First in the South” presidential forum on MSNBC.
Doors opened at 5 p.m. to the long line that formed along campus.
By 7 p.m., the stage seats at Byrnes Auditorium were full and an excitement filled the room.
The very first person in the line of more than 3,000 people to get into the forum can't even vote. Madison Kimrey, 14, from Burlington, N.C., was able to get her mother to drive three hours to the forum and arrive before anyone else.
The line started at noon. Madison was there at 11:45 - eight hours before the forum was set to start.
"I'm kind of a Hillary Clinton fan-girl," Madison said.
The line to get in the Byrnes Auditorium started minutes before noon and last all afternoon. It stretched from the entrance to the auditorium through the length of the campus with more than 3,000 people waiting to get in.
At the end of the line stood Phyllis Archie-Twyman of Rock Hill and Colleen Cicci of Fort Mill - the real end of the line. It was worth the wait, both ladies said.
Both are for Hillary Clinton, and were thrilled to be a part of history in York County.
"We need a woman president," Cicci said. "It is time for a woman in the White House."
Clinton supporters seemed to outnumber those for Bernie Sanders by a wide margin. Yet Sanders supporters were there in big numbers, too, and seemed generally to be younger.
In front of the auditorium, vying for camera time on television news shows, supporters for both sides traded "Hillary!" and "Feel the Bern!" chants.
"Bernie Sanders is the only path to equality for all," said Emily Andersson, 18, who carried around a cardboard cutout of Sanders so that people could take 'Selfies with Sanders.'
At 6 p.m., MSNBC aired a special edition of "Hardball with Chris Matthews" from Winthrop’s front lawn. Near the stage, supporters of Clinton held large signs and shouted for “HRC,” while Sanders fans yelled for “Bernie” and shook their posters in the air, too.
More than 200 journalists were expected to cover today's events- highlighted by the forum tonight.
Earlier in the day, a popular event saw Democrats gathered in the Winthrop Campus Center for “The New South: Shifting Cultural Norms” town hall meeting featuring Louis Elrod, president of Young Democrats of America, S.C. Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, chair of the DNC Southern Caucus and others.
There, Cobb-Hunter stressed the importance of Democrats being competitive in the region in order to win nationwide.
“For years, we whined to the party not to write off the South,” Cobb-Hunter said.
When former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean took over the DNC in 2005, “our whines were finally answered.”
Dean’s 50-state strategy is credited with given Democrats a congressional majority in 2006, including pickups in the South. “Democrats won at all levels,” Cobb-Hunter said.
S.C. Democratic Party Chair Jaime Harrison also discussed the need for Democrats to re-engage with Southerners at a small breakfast meeting Friday morning in Rock Hill with reporters from The Herald, The Charlotte Observer, The Washington Post and The Greenville News.
The subject of what Democrats need to do to chip away at the Republican’s grip on the Palmetto State and other Southern states was also front and center Thursday night on the Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast live from McHales in Rock Hill.
Also today at Winthrop, Republican presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Rand Paul participated in a town hall event with U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, both of South Carolina.
About 250 people attended the event. Paul answered questions from the crowd.
Paul is the latest GOP candidate to be a guest at a Scott-hosted town hall. After Scott hosts all GOP contenders, he will announce an endorsement, the senator has said.
Scott’s endorsement is the “gold star” for candidates, said Winthrop political science professor Scott Huffman, director of the Winthrop Poll.