[image-1]Republican gubernatorial candidate Catherine Templeton made a clear declaration on abortion, the Confederate flag, and more during an intimate town hall meeting Tuesday evening.

Speaking before a crowd at a town hall meeting organized by the Pickens County GOP, the former DHEC director began the evening with a few folksy anecdotes and a call for unity among South Carolinians before weighing in on some of the more divisive issues among voters.

Opening the floor up to questions, Templeton was asked for her opinion on Southern heritage and “Southern defense” as it relates to the protection of Confederate monuments around the state.

“Not on my watch. I don’t think there is anything else to say about it. You cannot rewrite history. I don’t care whose feelings it hurts,” Templeton responded.

Saying that “We are standing on the shoulders of giants in South Carolina,” Templeton later added that she is proud of the Confederacy but would not second guess state legislators’ decision to remove the Confederate battle flag from Statehouse grounds following the racially-driven shooting at Emanuel AME Church.

“I live in Charleston, and I drive by Mother Emanuel on a daily basis. And a bad person took something that is dear to us, took our heritage, and turned it into hate. And I think we reacted as a result. I think it was all we had to control. I really do, but it’s enough,” Templeton said. “Now we’ve got to make sure the promise that was made then, when it came down by our legislature, is kept. And that promise was to make sure it was laid to rest in a place of honor, hopefully in the Confederate museum.”

Following up on the future of Confederate monuments throughout the state, Templeton vowed to not allow their removal for any reason.

Citing loyalty to the Bush family early in the evening, Templeton says she supported Jeb Bush in the presidential primary, but indicated that she would back President Donald Trump in the next election.

“I think President Trump is trying to do what he said he would do, but the media and the entrenched bureaucrats that are held over have teamed up to do everything they can to make this messy and difficult,” she said. “It’s another reason that I feel like I need to offer my service.”

Questioned about Trump’s recent statements on a proposed ban on transgender individuals serving in the U.S. military in any capacity, Templeton said she would defer to generals and admirals to decide what is best for combat readiness and cohesion among troops, but made clear that she would not allow gender reassignment related medical procedures or services to be funded under the Department of Defense’s health care.

“If you sign up and join as a man, you serve as a man. If you join as a woman, you serve as a woman. I think it’s not any more complicated than that,” Templeton said.

Regarding the recent decision by the Trump administration to reopen the Atlantic coast up to offshore energy exploration, Templeton told those in attendance that former President Barack Obama had opened the coast up for oil and gas activity, but failed to mention Obama’s decision to ban drilling in large areas of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans shortly before leaving office. Templeton said that the minute amount of energy reserves believed to lie off the coast of South Carolina do not justify the threat that the industry would pose to South Carolina’s booming tourism industry.

Pressed on whether or not she believes the “advancement of Islam by anyone in the United States” is an act of war, Templeton said that “any jihad is absolutely an act of terrorism.” She added, “Of course, this country was founded on freedom of religion, and I think that our religion is under attack. I think every day as Christians we are having to fight in our schools. We’re having to fight about what our churches taught us and what we believe.”

A mother of three, Templeton took a hard stance against legal abortions, saying that they should only be permitted in cases of incest or if the mother’s life is endangered. Following a suggestion that women seeking an abortion be required to view an ultrasound of the fetus before undergoing any procedure, Templeton did not fully commit to supporting such an effort, but did suggest that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Near the close of the town hall meeting, Templeton was questioned by a woman who asked that she reconsider her stance on allowing abortions in cases of incest. The woman then called homosexuals and transgender individuals sinners before asking Templeton if she would support a “bathroom bill” similar to the hotly contested effort launched in North Carolina or similar failed bills in South Carolina.

“If you’re a boy, you go to the boys room. If you’re a girl, you go to the little girls room. And if you’re a pervert, we put you in jail and throw away the keys,” said Templeton. I’m just not sure there’s anything else to say.”