Mr. Sherman, a Korean War veteran, nodded along. “It was a shame it had to happen,” he said of the Jan. 6 assault, adding that he used to “get very upset” with some of Mr. Trump’s remarks.
But the former president had been effective, he said. “In my whole life I’ve never been able to see someone accomplish so much,” Mr. Sherman added, citing low unemployment rates and a strong economy. “The bottom line was, did he get the job done?”
Penny Ford, a Mount Pleasant resident who attended the event with her husband, Jim Ford, gave a more grudging assessment, explaining that they had winced at Ms. Mace’s comments about the former president. Still, she said, the congresswoman was “the best we have at the moment.”
Ms. Ford said they would prefer to be represented by someone like Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio — a staunch Trump loyalist who helped plan the challenge to Mr. Biden’s election in the House — or Senator Ted Cruz of Texas — who led the effort to invalidate it in the Senate — and said they would consider voting against Ms. Mace next year “if I had a choice for someone else.”
The first woman to graduate from the Citadel, Ms. Mace based her winning 2020 campaign on her up-from-the-bootstraps biography, detailing her journey from scrappy Waffle House waitress to statehouse representative. She bested Mr. Cunningham, who had been the first Democrat to hold the seat in nearly four decades, by just over a percentage point.
On the campaign trail, Ms. Mace walked a careful line, balancing her libertarian streak with a more pragmatic approach, playing up a history of “speaking up against members” of her own party and “reaching across the aisle.”
And in the days after the Jan. 6 attack, she was unsparing in her language. What was necessary, Ms. Mace said then, was nothing short of a comprehensive rebuilding of the party. It was a time for Republicans to be honest with their voters, she said: “Regardless of the political consequences, I’m going to tell the truth.”