At a campaign stop in Rock Hill Wednesday morning, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster focused on law enforcement and school safety.
"We have a lot of things going for us in the state and one of the best things we have, ladies and gentlemen, is our law enforcement," McMaster told a crowd including York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson and former sheriff Rep. Bruce Bryant (R-York). "Law enforcement in South Carolina is second to none in the United States."
McMaster painted himself as the Donald Trump candidate of the gubernatorial race. President Trump endorsed McMaster in October 2017.
"The things that I'm doing are the things Donald Trump is doing," McMaster said. "I predicted he is going to be one of the best presidents we've ever had in this country. He is a remarkable man, and he is working full-time to see that this country is strong again; that we are respected by our enemies, feared by our enemies and respected by our friends as well."
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
McMaster touted his career in law enforcement, particularly as a U.S. attorney and attorney general in South Carolina.
"Of all the candidates in the race of either side I am the only one who understands law enforcement — who's actually been in law enforcement, has gotten legislation passed to help law enforcement, has worked in law enforcement , who's actually prosecuted criminals in federal as well as state court," he said.
"I think that's enormously important and why do I think that? Because I know that law enforcement is the backbone of the strength that we have in South Carolina. If you don't have strong law enforcement, you cant have anything else. Nothing else matters if the people aren't safe."
Bryant introduced McMaster and his running mate, businesswoman Pamela Evette.
"I stand and I support Gov. McMaster because of his law enforcement background," Bryant said. "He is so concerned about the security, the welfare, the safety of the citizens in the state. You know, it’s been an honor to know this man."
McMaster said he's working to get a proposal passed through the budget to fund trained law enforcement agents to be placed in "every school in every district in South Carolina to keep those shooters out."
"You got to have somebody who knows how to go to the fire, to go to the trouble and to shoot back at somebody that's shooting at them," McMaster said. "That's what I want to have. When we have that, then we'll know that we are safe, that our children are safe and we can send them to school without worrying about them."
McMaster told The Herald after the event that he believes background checks should be instantaneous so there's almost no delay for people purchasing guns.
"It ought to be instant," he said. "I don't think you need to wait."
He said the background check technology should be updated to allow for quicker checks and a more efficient purchasing process.
"They ought to be able to get the information as quickly as possible," he said. "My focus is making the laws work that we have, not adding new laws to it, restricting the purchase of firearms or possession."
Evette said she's excited to run with McMaster because he won't make empty promises. She leaned on her business background in the Rock Hill stop.
"What we need, is we need our economy to keep growing," Evette said. "With good economy and with industry able to grow, that speaks well for the whole state. When people are working, people are happy.
"It all starts with economic development, and that’s exactly what I want to do for our state," Evette said. "I want to take all the knowledge and know-how that I’ve learned in business and take it down to Columbia and help the governor keep our great state growing."
McMaster also spoke with The Herald about domestic violence rates in South Carolina. South Carolina has ranked in the top 10 for rates of women killed by men every year for 20 years, according to Violence Policy Center reports using FBI data.
McMaster said he'd focus on expanding specialized domestic violence courts. The specialized courts would hear only domestic violence cases on certain days to make sure victims' needs are heard.
"I'd like to have one of those in every county," McMaster said. "It's another idea that costs no money."