While undecided Republican voters lined up at the Sottile Theater, a block away Charleston Mayor Joesph P. Riley, Jr. called a press conference with College Democrats to talk up President Barack Obama's record in the White House and take shots at his GOP challengers.
Asked why he chose Saturday to speak, Riley said that while all the Republican candidates, with the exception of Ron Paul, are in town he wanted to make sure they were aware that in both the City of Charleston and Charleston County as a whole, a majority of voters chose Obama in 2008.
Riley used the press conference to highlight the Obama Administration's record on job creation, noting that when he took office in January 2009 the U.S. was loosing approximately 770,000 jobs per month, and that the private sector has added jobs every month for the past 22 months.
He said it took political courage to push emergency loans for Chrysler and General Motors through Congress and the result is a resurgent American auto industry.
"Next month GM is poised to once again become the largest automobile manufacturer in the world," Riley said.
He said the auto industry bailout saved more than 1.4 million jobs and prevented the shuttering of car dealerships in every community in the country.
"I believe that when all the electioneering is over, that the citizens of our country will decide that the leader that America needs is the leader that we have now," Riley said.
But he didn't just talk up Obama's record, Riley also used the press conference to take shots at the GOP frontrunner former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney by highlighting two Palmetto state companies that were hurt by corporate takeovers engineered by Romney's private equity firm, Bain Capital.
"Romney's entire career was about profits, not jobs," Riley said. "Up in Gaffney, Romney's firm invested in Holson Burnes factory, where hard-working South Carolinians made photo albums and picture frames. What did Mitt Romney's group do? They did fine for themselves, they doubled their return on the investment on the backs of South Carolinians, they fired 150 workers in Gaffney, left our fellow citizens jobless and then shipped some of the operations overseas."
Riley also took a shot at Romney's Bain record noting that the company also bought the parent company of Georgetown Steel and subsequently cut more than 1,500 jobs across the company, shut down a production line that had been operating for more than 100 years and the company eventually went bankrupt while Bain recouped more than double its initial investment in the company.
President of the College Democrats at the College of Charleston, James Smith, who introduced Riley at the press conference, said he thought it was a good thing that the presidential candidates come to places like the College of Charleston where students and professors can scrutinize the claims they make.