Carolina-Canada Connections — Vol. 8, No. 31
A weekly outreach to our friends and colleagues in Canada
Weekly Washington Wrap
- The Senate returned to Washington this week where President Barack Obama gave his final State of the Union address on Tuesday night. The president covered issues including the economy, technology, foreign policy and the political process. In a moment met with bipartisan applause, he also announced that Vice President Joe Biden will lead an initiative to find a cure for cancer. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley gave the Republican response which led to speculation that she could be a veep contender on the GOP ticket. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is under fire for blasting the choice of Haley in giving the response claiming the governor highlights what she calls the GOP's "lack of diversity." Critics say Schultz's remarks are highly hypocritical considering that Haley is not only female, but the daughter of Indian immigrants and the first woman and first minority to lead her state, as well as the youngest sitting governor in the country. They also point out that the GOP field for president counts an African-American, female, and Hispanic candidates as major contenders. The three Democratic presidential candidates are all white.
- Tonight, Republican presidential candidates will gather in Charleston, SC for the next GOP presidential debate. Seven candidates made the main debate lineup this time - business mogul Donald Trump, Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Governors Chris Christie and John Kasich, Dr. Ben Carson, and former Governor Jeb Bush.
- A Philadelphia police officer is recovering after an assassination attempt by a 30-year old Pennsylvanian gunman who pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State and his loyalty to Allah as reasons for unleashing a hail of bullets at the officer, "in the name of Islam." Yesterday, the FBI said the case is being investigated as a suspected act of terrorism. The Obama White House has had no comment only that the incident is under investigation and they're "wondering" if it's an "actual act of terrorism." Critics say in the wake of the San Bernardino terror shootings, the White House's silence on this latest alleged ISIS-related shooting is particularly troubling. The cop, Officer Jesse Hartnett, is recovering and the FBI is investigating trips the suspect took to the Middle East and Saudi Arabia as well as possible broader ties to local radicals.
Legacies, Lessons and Leadership
On Tuesday night, hundreds of movers and shakers from across South Carolina gathered together in downtown Columbia, SC – in the shadow of the majestic state house – to mark the 11th annual Wilkins Leadership Awards Dinner.
Susan and David Wilkins mingle with guests at the 11th annual Wilkins Legislative Awards Dinner.
A great crew! South Carolina ETV's Aimee Crouch and Xavier Blake helped create magic moments at Tuesday's dinner.
Carolina-Canada Connections readers know well this event is named in honor of your former US Ambassador to Canada and longtime Speaker of the SC House, David Wilkins, by the Riley Institute at Furman University, in recognition of Wilkins' contributions to the Palmetto State. At the dinner every year a "Wilkins Award for Excellence in Legislative Leadership" is bestowed on a state lawmaker, and a "Wilkins Award for Excellence in Civic Leadership" goes to a community leader who exemplifies a life of service.
Your former US ambassador to Canada talks about the hateful – and healing – events of last summer.
After the horrific shooting at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC last summer, this year's Wilkins Awards Dinner was especially poignant and solemn with the 2015 Legislative Leadership Award being bestowed posthumously to Charleston state Senator Clementa Pinckney. Pinckney was the senior pastor at Mother Emanuel and was one of the nine people murdered in the church on June 17, 2015. His award was accepted by his widow, Jennifer Pinckney.
Senator Clementa Pinckney's widow, Jennifer, and their two beautiful daughters, Malana and Eliana, accept his award and give a moving tribute.
Meanwhile, the 2015 Civic Leadership Award went to not one – but two – South Carolinians who put partisan politics aside and provided unparalleled leadership during and after the crisis.
David Wilkins was honored to present these awards to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Charleston Mayor Joe Riley. Here's a little about what he had to say about the leadership they provided during our state's summer of "trial and tears":
"…When we talk about leadership, we don’t often talk about perseverance. But looking back now, it's obvious how much all of us relied on Mayor Riley and Governor Haley simply to push through. We needed these two strong leaders assuring us that they were on top of the events; that they weren't being swallowed up by them.
They grieved with us; and we needed that.
But they were also strong. Certain. And steadfast.
They made sure the world understood South Carolina's broken hearts were nonetheless resilient hearts and so Charleston – a city that was vulnerable -- was not available – to further attacks – for the kind of piling on and unrest we have witnessed in other areas around the country.
And the very next month, of course, it was that same strong spirit and decisive leadership that led to the historic flag vote…"
Haley and Riley provided a compelling pretaped interview recalling their memories upon first learning of the shooting and the events thereafter that was shown to the Wilkins Dinner audience. Haley had to bow out of attending in person as she was tapped to give the Republican response Tuesday night to the president's State of the Union Address.
The Wilkins Award Dinner is historically held on the first night of the first day the South Carolina General Assembly returns to session in January and always features noteworthy speakers. It is a double honor for our Nelson Mullins family as Furman's Riley Institute is named after Nelson Mullins' own Dick Riley – a beloved senior statesman, former South Carolina governor and secretary of education in the Bill Clinton administration. He also served as the evening's co-host.
Last year, longtime CBS News "Face the Nation" reporter and host Bob Schieffer, was the keynote. Other big names have included PBS NewsHour's Judy Woodruff, former Canada Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and former CIA Director, General David Petraeus.
Heartbreak and Hope!
In full violation of our strict and standard Carolina-Canada Connections editorial policy, we're gonna break the rules and actually report to you that – wait for it – Wilkins' beloved Clemson Tigers, alas, fell short in their all-consuming quest for the national championship this week.
As you've been reading in this space, Clemson had been the #1 ranked football team in the US since November, closed with a perfect 14-0 record, and had just clobbered Oklahoma on New Year's Eve to win the Orange Bowl (again!)
The only thing now standing in the way of the Tigers and the national championship was the formidable University of Alabama Crimson Tide – whose offense includes the current Heisman Trophy winner, Derrick Henry.
The big title game was played in Phoenix, Arizona. Of course, David and Susan Wilkins were there rooting on their Tigers, along with their sons, Robert and James.
All In! James and Robert Wilkins in Arizona Monday night.
David Wilkins and Clemson University President Jim Clements are psyched before the big game!
Clemson, quarterbacked by the best in the country (and that's a fact!) Deshaun Watson, played like the champs they are, but in the end, came up 5 points short against the Alabama powerhouse which has won four national titles under its current coach, Nick Saban.
Committed Carolina-Canada Connections readers know that we only write about Clemson wins in your CCC, but as anyone who watched Monday's big game can testify, Clemson led for much of the night and on paper at least, had the stats of the victor. They played with a whole lotta heart, never gave up, and lost by less than a touchdown.
In fact, coming out of the game, Clemson is still earning national accolades. It was announced today that Deshaun Watson is the winner of the 2015-16 Manning Award as the top quarterback in college football! The selection was made by the Sugar Bowl Committee and is the only quarterback honor that includes postseason performance.
And Coach Dabo Swinney just picked up yet another coaching award – winning the Paul "Bear" Bryant coach of the year award last night. Swinney is the first ACC coach to be honored with the trophy, named for the late Alabama coach.
And here's what Sports Illustrated has to say about the Tigers potential next season in its "Way-Too-Early College Football Top 5 for 2016":
"It likely comes as little solace after losing the national championship Monday night, but the Tigers are in the best position to return to the title game next season—and win. Quarterback Deshaun Watson should be the early Heisman Trophy favorite, and he’ll have a loaded group of receivers in Artavis Scott and Mike Williams, who missed nearly the entire season with a neck fracture."
So, all in all, we think that merits a mention!
14-1 is a pretty great season.
So here's to next year and a blessed break on talking football till spring!
They Said What?
- "...He confessed to committing this cowardly act in the name of Islam,” – Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross Jr., regarding the motives of the shooter who ambushed a Philadelphia police officer last week.
- "I don’t need you tell me how to think because you want to suck up to the Commander in Chief…I don’t know if you need to see an eye doctor, but the man is wearing Muslim garb, he has sworn allegiance to ISIS, he told the cops he did it for Allah and ISIS. His own mother says he’s a devout Muslim. Are you stupid?" – Judge Jeanine Pirro on Fox News in response to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney who says the shooting of a Philly police officer has "nothing to do with Islam."
- "Take a vote. But the American people should know that, with or without Congressional action, ISIL will learn the same lessons as terrorists before them. If you doubt America's commitment -- or mine -- to see that justice is done, just ask Osama bin Laden," – President Obama regarding his commitment to fighting terrorism in his final State of the Union address.
- “He did shed tears for the victims of Sandy Hook, and I think that’s appropriate. But as far as we know, he’s never shed a tear for the millions of unborn babies that have been aborted since he took office. So I left my gallery seat empty, and my seat in the House chambers empty in commemoration of those who’ve never had a voice, not those who no longer have a voice, but those unborn babies who have never had a voice — and I’m going to the members’ chapel, where I’m going to spend my time there praying for the unborn, praying for the restoration of the Constitution and that God will raise up a leader whom he will use to restore the soul of America," – Iowa Congressman Steve King on why he wasn't in the House chamber to hear the president's State of the Union address. (Editor's note: During the president's speech, First Lady Michelle Obama sat beside an empty chair—symbolically reserved for the victims of gun violence.)
- "Although this is not the outcome we wanted, God is still God and God is still good. Thank you Clemson Nation for all the love and support," – Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware in a heartfelt letter to fans posted to Twitter following the loss of the championship game this week.
If you are interested in the possibility of having Ambassador Wilkins speak at an event, please contact Christy Cox at Christy.Cox@nelsonmullins.com or call 803.255.9470.
The articles published in this newsletter are intended only to provide general information on the subjects covered. The contents should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Readers should consult with legal counsel to obtain specific legal advice based on particular situations.