A few months ago, Lt. Governor and gubernatorial candidate Andre Bauer made news, coast to coast, with his crude comment comparing poor people to stray animals. Speaking to a group of Republicans in Laurens, S.C., he said that giving aid to the poor was like feeding stray animals: it just encourages them! The remark caused a hell of an uproar that could be heard from editorial pages to late night comics around the country. Andre soon found himself back-peddling and apologizing. Critics and pundits suggested that perhaps he was not ready for big league politics. But it looks like he has either forgotten that lesson or maybe he knows his GOP base better than others do. Whatever his thinking, he was back to bashing the poor in a GOP gubernatorial debate in Spartanburg last Friday.
SPARTANBURG - Lazy state residents are contributing to the number of illegal immigrants in South Carolina, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer said during a Republican gubernatorial debate Friday, living off public aid rather than working.
Bauer's comments came during one of the few instances where the four Republican candidates for governor steered away from familiar ground during an otherwise low-key, one-hour debate.
The candidates - Bauer, U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, Lexington state Rep. Nikki Haley and Attorney General Henry McMaster -drew about 200 spectators at the Chapman Cultural Center. About 40 percent raised their hand when asked before the debate if they had decided on a candidate yet.
And for much of the debate, the candidates largely agreed on the familiar topics: the economy and economic development; state budget cuts; and the federal health care law.
But it was when the candidates were asked about a recently approved Arizona law to crack down on illegal immigration that they plowed new ground.
There was agreement that greater enforcement of state and federal laws would help solve the problem, but Bauer also blamed welfare. Workers, he suggested, are content to sit at home rather than fill jobs taken by illegal immigrants, typically in agriculture, construction or service.
"The real problem is the work force," Bauer said, speaking of a state with 12.2 percent unemployment, the sixth-highest jobless rate in the country. "The problem is we have a give-away system that is so strong that people would rather sit home and do nothing than do these jobs. Laziness is not a disability. There are a lot of people that are flat-out lazy and they are using up the goods and services in this state."