Voters will have two separate chances to hear Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speak when he visits York and Lancaster counties on Wednesday.
Carson’s 2 p.m. appearance at Winthrop University was moved to the Winthrop Coliseum to accommodate the number of people expected to attend the town hall-style event. But first, voters will have a chance to see Carson at the Lodge at Sun City Carolina Lakes in Indian Land, where he will speak at noon.
Tickets for the Sun City event, hosted by the Sun City Republican Club, have sold out, but free tickets to the Winthrop event are still available online at the town hall’s Eventbrite page.
By Tuesday afternoon, organizers say, about 3,000 people had signed up for the Winthrop event, which will be moderated by state Rep. Tommy Pope, R-York. The coliseum normally seats more than 6,000, but some seating will be lost to accommodate a speaking platform.
A retired neurosurgeon and outspoken Christian who has never held elected office, Carson has out-paced a number of senators and governors in the race for the GOP nomination, consistently placing second in polls behind New York real estate mogul Donald Trump.
But as Carson’s star has risen, so has scrutiny of his political views and his life story. Carson has said the Constitution should be re-interpreted to deny citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants; he wouldn’t support a Muslim running for president because he believes Islam is “inconsistent with the values and principles of America;” and he seemed to blame the victims of a mass shooting in Oregon for not “rushing” the gunman.
Last month, Carson came under fire for claiming he had declined a scholarship to the United States Military Academy at West Point, which does not offer scholarships.
Still, supporters have praised Carson’s directness in his views and his seeming authenticity on the stump. The understated surgeon has found ample support from voters tired of established politicians.
Crews began building a stage on the coliseum basketball court Tuesday afternoon, shortly after the Winthrop Eagles finished practice.
Want to go?
What: Ben Carson campaign town hall
Where: Winthrop Coliseum, 1162 Eden Terrace, Rock Hill
When: 2 p.m. Wednesday. Doors open at 11 a.m.
Tickets: Free online at http://bit.ly/1MYbYzd