22 presidential candidates head to South Carolina for Clyburn’s fish fry

VIDEO: Democratic presidential hopefuls attend world famous S.C. fish fry

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - One of the biggest events so far for Democratic candidates’ kicked off Friday night in Columbia.

Congressman Jim Clyburn’s World Famous Fish Fry at the EdVenture Children’s Museum brought in 22 presidential contenders to South Carolina. The candidates will spend their night mingling with everyone at the event.

Within an hour or so of its 7:30 p.m. start, the atmosphere outside the venue had turned into a pep rally. Groups representing some of the candidates yelled out their battle cries with megaphones and held signs.

Hundreds of people had been lining up since at 6 p.m. Crews, meanwhile, have been working all week to get things set up in time. Volunteers are expected to serve more than 4,000 pounds of fried fish.

This comes just one week before the first big showdown among the large amount of candidates for their first primary debate of the 2020 Presidential Race in Florida next week.

Annual fish fry has grown over three decades

The fish fry event started around 30 years ago by Rep. Jim Clyburn as a way to thank his campaign workers. It was originally held in parking garages, but over the years, it has taken on a life of its own.

Dr. Todd Shaw is the chair for the Department of Political Science at the University of South Carolina. He says this is a “can’t-miss” event for Democratic presidential hopefuls.

“This is an event where ordinary citizens and voters can rub elbows with candidates and get to know them on a personal level instead of having to go some other big event,” Shaw says.

According to candidates, Clyburn’s endorsement is highly coveted among Democrats as he holds a lot of power in South Carolina and Congress.

Republican South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster urged voters to take advantage of the special role the Palmetto State plays in the political world.

“I encourage the people to go out to the meetings and meet the candidates," McMaster said. "They’ll all be here. And so will the press. It will be very exciting but it is very important.”

McMaster has already thrown his support behind President Donald Trump for the 2020 Election. He says he expects to see Trump in South Carolina again soon.

VIDEO: 22 Democratic presidential candidates attending famous S.C. fish fry

Meanwhile, the South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick released a statement Friday night on the arrival of the 2020 Democratic candidates for the Clyburn Fish Fry and Blue Palmetto dinner:

"As the 2020 Democrats clown car stops in for dinner tonight in South Carolina, it’s important to remember they are only willing to serve up 23 flavors of stale socialism. It’s clear that South Carolinians have no appetite for such an expensive, radical menu. With not one Southerner in the bunch, the best we can hope for is that no one spills any sauce on their expensive shoes and shirt.”

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