National Democratic leaders and presidential candidates rally in Charleston ahead of debate

VIDEO: National Democratic leaders and presidential candidates rally in Charleston ahead of debate

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - It's a big weekend for Democrats here in South Carolina. It kicked off tonight with the First in the South Presidential Primary Dinner hosted by the South Carolina Democratic Party. Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O' Malley and Willie Wilson came together with other national democratic leaders ahead of the Democratic debate in Charleston.

The dinner was followed by Congressman Jim Clyburn's Fish Fry featuring the candidates as well.

All eyes were on the candidates at the First in the South Dinner as they made their pitches about what they'll do as the next President of the United States.

"Not only must we vigorously oppose the Republican effort to cut Social Security, in fact we have got to expand Social Security," says Sanders.

Sanders also talked about how he plans to stand up for working people and how he would look to reform the criminal justice system.

"Our country and our planet is worth saving, that's why I'm running for president and I'm asking for your vote," says O' Malley.

O' Malley, former Maryland governor, talked about his mission to cut down the number of deaths as a result of gun violence.

"We need to make sure that the economic peace of this country in the United States of America reflects minorities and the people of color," says Wilson.

Businessman Willie Wilson will also be on the South Carolina Democratic Primary ballot, he calls himself a businessman and not a politician. He says he's candidate that won't be bought.

As Hillary Clinton took the stage there was standing ovation from the crowd. She expressed that there are many similarities among her and the other Democratic candidates, but there are also differences that set her a part.

"South Carolina you don't need me to tell you how important you are in this election, you are the first in the south," says Hillary Clinton

Among the crowd were several national Democratic leaders including Former Attorney General Eric Holder, who's supporting Hillary Clinton. He sheds light on what he'd like to hear in the debate.

"I would like to hear what each candidate has to say about guns," says Holder. "Where do you stand on gun safety measures, what's your history been with regard to gun safety measures, what do you think would happen with regard to manufacturers of these weapons?"

Some candidates touched on gun control policy looking to cut down deaths relating to gun violence. It's a topic hitting close to home in Charleston.

Holder also had a message for people in the state.

"You can't complain about the government you have if you didn't participate in the most fundamental of ways to get out there and vote," says Holder. "One of the concerns that I certainly have, and that Hillary Clinton has as well, are these new laws that are being put in place to make it more difficult for people to vote."

The candidates also talked about the importance of voting and they're pushing for participation to rise.

The Democratic Debate will air on Sunday at 9 p.m. on NBC and YouTube. It will take place in downtown Charleston at the Gaillard Center.

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