By Yvonne Wegner
Republican candidate for governor Nikki Haley canceled a speaking engagement with an important voting bloc Wednesday, and her opponent didn't miss the chance to remind the group.
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Vincent Sheheen spoke to about 180 retired state workers at the Brookland Banquet and Conference Center for the group's quarterly luncheon.
"I thank you for your service," Sheheen said. "I thank you for your support. I ask for your vote. And remember, it's not an accident that the candidate who showed up at this forum is Vincent Sheheen. I'm here because I am proud of you."
Haley was invited to the forum and originally accepted but ultimately declined, said Sam Griswold, president emeritus of the State Retirees Association of South Carolina. Griswold said Haley's campaign said she had a scheduling conflict.
Rob Godfrey, Haley campaign spokesman, said Haley spent her day in meetings in Columbia, Florence and Myrtle Beach with business leaders and supporters. She then traveled to Myrtle Beach for a campaign rally.
University of South Carolina political science professor Mark Tompkins said a "classic front-runner strategy" is to be more selective about public appearances than the underdog. Haley has been leading in the polls since the nominees won their respective primaries.
Retired state workers Thomas Parkman of Forest Acres and Sherri McGuire of Gaston said they were disappointed Haley didn't make their forum a priority. Both said they regularly vote for both Democratic and Republican candidates. Parkman will support Sheheen on Nov. 2 while McGuire is undecided.