The Daily Gamecock

Loftis speech sees small audience

Only four students turn out to hear SC state treasurer


A cold, misty evening did not keep South Carolina State Treasurer Curtis Loftis from speaking on election season and his views on government in Gambrell Hall Monday night.

But it certainly shot down student attendance. Only four students — all from Student Government — came out to hear the latest in a series of elected officials that Student Body President Joe Wright and the SG Voter Registration Initiative has brought to USC.

Loftis, the state chairman for Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, opened with discussion of the past weekend’s primary in which Romney came in second to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

“I’m glad to see it go,” Loftis said. “I’m not much of a primary guy, but I got sucked into it this time. I came away with an idea of what’s wrong in the system and how to fix it. We need better people in office — but the primary’s gone, so I’m not going to bellyache about my guy not doing so well,” he said with a chuckle.

He went on to press the importance of local politics.

“We have to have better people running for office and better voters,” he said. “If people knew more about local politics, the deadbeats wouldn’t rise to the top.”

Loftis was originally set to speak in mid-December, but scheduling issues with Russell House pushed his appearance to Monday night in Gambrell. Despite those scheduling troubles, SG Secretary James Strickland, a fourth-year history and political science student who organized the event, was happy with it.

“Tonight went very well, and Mr. Loftis was very pleased to speak with us,” Strickland said. “He was very personable and we all had a great conversation.”

When Loftis, a Republican, learned that one of the students in attendance was a Democrat, he responded: “That’s great. We need more Democrats in this state because we need a two-party system,” noting fighting within the Republican party. “We effectively have two parties within one party, but they can’t go after each other very well,” he said.

In closing his speech, Loftis placed a heavy emphasis on government transparency.

“It goes back to integrity. What we’ve done is try to make transparency and accountability the most important thing we do,” Loftis said. “Would Obama have written the check to Solyndra for $500 million if people were watching? If there was a TV camera, would he have written a check? Of course not. We talk about running government properly. We talk about transparency, but by the time the real person finds out what’s going to be done, its already been done behind closed doors. State government is so closed and I have a real problem with that.”
Strickland is looking forward to more officials visiting campus in the near future, including a possible appearance from Gov. Nikki Haley.

“We do hope to get more speakers on campus,” Strickland said. “Some events are still in the works and are still uncertain ... but it’s very likely that a few more members of the state legislature will join SG.”