Beasley Speaks on His Family, His Faith and His Future in Politics
December 3, 2003
Former South Carolina Gov. David Beasley spoke about his family, his faith and his future in politics before a capacity crowd of supporters on Monday evening at The Beacon Drive-In in Spartanburg.
Sponsored by the Spartanburg County Young Republicans and the USC-Spartanburg College Republicans, there were nearly 70 people young and old who came out on the cool night to hear what Beasley had to say.
Speaking with a yellow notebook pad in hand, Beasley said he had not given any political speeches in a long time. Nevertheless, his casual, low-key approach helped him seem familiar with those in the audience.
Even still, he jokingly asked, "Do you remember me?" The crowd responded with laughter and a round of applause.
Beasley added: "Because I definitely remember you."
As he spoke in an anecdotal format, Beasley looked at the world today compared to when he left office in 1998.
"There's no more important time in American history than today," he stated.
He reminisced with the college students in attendance about when he was a 20-year-old and first decided to run for the state House of Representatives. He remembered the people who told him he was too young and too inexperienced to run. In fact, he said his mother did not like it at all.
Despite these obstacles, Beasley said he won that race by working hard.
"I wanted to help people," he recalled, expressing the challenges of his age and experience did not prevent him from reaching high for positions as House Speaker and eventually running for Governor at the age of 34.
Remembering the accomplishments he had as Governor, Beasley said his goal was to put families first in every policy decision he had to make. He said that he felt his administration did good things for and in government.
"We dropped the welfare caseload by 75 percent," Beasley exclaimed.
He said that his administration changed the criminal justice system, improved education and grew jobs faster than any other state during his tenure in office.
"We were ranked number one in job growth and personal income growth at various times during my administration," Beasley recalled.
Admitting he "made some mistakes" in office, a humbled Beasley said that the past five years have made a noticable impact on him.
"You learn more from your losses than your victories," he admitted.
Yet, Beasley said that he does not regret standing up for what he believes.
"I learned how important it is to stand up for what is right even if it costs you politically," he explained.
Shifting his attention to some other lessons he has learned since leaving public office, Beasley said there are two characteristics that stand out above all others.
"The truly important things in life require courage and sacrifice," he said, implying that he displayed both of these when he was governor. "Those virtues are rare in American politics."
Beasley went on to recall several stories that literally changed him personally.
In 1998, the year that he lost the gubernatorial election to Democrat Jim Hodges, Beasley said his wife almost died from a debilitating childbirth disease when giving birth to their fourth child where the odds of survival were around 15 percent. And even if she did survive, the deck was stacked against her to sustain heavy permanent brain damage.
He credited the prayers of people all across South Carolina for her full recovery. In fact, he said that he and his wife now joke about him singing the classic Kenny Rogers song "You Picked A Fine Time To Leave Me Lucille" had she been taken away from him and the kids.
Beasley said that experience with his wife was a "wake-up call to not forget what's important."
Then, in 1999, his mother died of cancer. Beasley said it was "a moving experience" for him.
Soon thereafter, Beasley said he went to Kosovo in the midst of the media hype about what was happening there. He recalled several stories of gruesome atrocities amidst the beautiful landscape. That experience in the refugee camps also made a tremendous impact on his life.
"I came back home with a renewed appreciation for what we have in America," Beasley exclaimed.
After the attacks on America on September 11, Beasley said he believes that the world simply misunderstands what the United States is about.
"If they knew us, then they would embrace us" and want to live with the freedoms that we enjoy, Beasley said.
With several visible signs that read "Run, David, Run," Beasley said he has been weighing his options about a possible run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Sen. Fritz Hollings.
Interestingly, an informal straw poll taken on The Common Voice last month showed David Beasley winning with a commanding 47 percent of the ballots cast.
"I'll be making my decision soon," Beasley said, referring to whether he would be running or not. Those in attendance cheered at the possibility that he might be.
Beasley said he will be evaluating what is "best for my family, best for my state and best for my nation."
Because of his experiences and observations around the world, Beasley believes the war on terrorism "must be fought" and "must be won."
"Nothing is more important than defending freedom at home and around the world," Beasley stated.
Showing his support for President George W. Bush, Beasley said the commander-in-chief has shown the courage to do the right thing on the war on terrorism.
"Thank God for George Bush and the leadership he is providing in the war on terrorism," Beasley expressed to a stirring round of applause.
Beasley expressed his concern with the Democrat Party, though. He said that the Democrat presidential candidates "owe the American people an apology" for viciously attacking Bush for supporting the troops on a recent visit to Iraq during the Thanksgiving holiday.
"Democrats stand for despair," Beasley concluded.
He ended his remarks by reiterating his motto for anyone who wants to be involved in the political process and run for office.
"Stand for what is right at the right time and in the right way," Beasley said, urging the college students in attendance to do all three.
"Do it out of love. Do it out of compassion," just as Bush has been an example of as president, Beasley remarked.