In an appearance that was part town hall meeting, part news conference and all spectacle, U.S. Senate candidate Alvin Greene introduced himself to western York County voters as a small-town man with big dreams.
Greene spoke at the Coal Yard restaurant in downtown York, where a crowd of more than 100 people filled an outdoor deck and spilled onto nearby grass.
Many snapped photos and craned for better views as Greene read from a prepared speech and fielded audience questions - showing varying degrees of confidence along the way.
"A long-term goal of mine has been to be involved in the political process," Greene said. "I am making my dream a reality."
Greene, who turns 33 today, touched on topics ranging from economic development to judicial reform, telling listeners that South Carolina can restart its economy by widening highways and extending water and sewer lines into rural communities.
To improve low-performing schools, Greene called for paying teachers based on performance and getting parents more involved in the classroom.
He said judicial reform is needed so that first-time offenders get a chance to learn from their mistakes.
"We spend more to incarcerate than we do to educate," he said. "Fairness saves us money."
Greene was trailed by nearly a dozen reporters and a documentary film crew from Los Angeles that has been following him since his upset win in the June Democratic primary.
Dressed in a double-breasted suit and light blue tie, Greene shook hands and posed for pictures before departing in a black sedan.
Some listeners showed up more than an hour early to claim the best seats. Among the diverse audience was a group of elderly women, several young people and a handful of conservative activists who typically work for Republican candidates.
Though his speech went off smoothly, Greene seemed to struggle at times during a question-and-answer period. Pressed for specifics on his teacher pay plan, Greene said, "We want to just reward those teachers who are performing."
Asked to name which S.C. Democrat he most admired, Greene deadpanned, "Well, it's not Clyburn," referring to Rep. Jim Clyburn, who has criticized Greene's candidacy and made clear he won't vote for him.
Pressed to come up with another choice, Greene thought for several moments before mentioning his parents.
Other questions drew more confident responses. Greene said South Carolina could reduce infant mortality rates by encouraging women to visit doctors more often during pregnancy.
Olin Barber of Rock Hill said he was pleasantly surprised by Greene's ability to deliver a message.
"He's a little bit slow, but not as slow as they pretend him to be," Barber said. "He did have some trouble, but he delivered it."
Greene seemed to possess a genuine belief in his ability to help South Carolina, said Beth Saviano of Rock Hill.
"Don't know about the rest, but he seemed sincere," she said.
It's possible Greene could return to York County.
Melvin Poole, president of the Rock Hill NAACP, said he spoke with Greene's campaign manager about setting up a trip to Rock Hill. Poole said he feels sure Greene would draw a bigger crowd with a visit to the county's largest city.
"We'll get him back another time," Poole said.