Surprise US Senate Candidate Makes First Speech

Alvin Greene, Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, waves after making his first public speech during the monthly meeting of the NAACP Sunday, July 18, 2010, at Manning Junior High School, in Manning, S.C. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)
AP Photo
A 32-year-old unemployed military veteran who has made a surprising run for the U.S. Senate finally made his first campaign appearance Sunday.

Alvin Greene's speech started off with a joke and ended with Greene timidly waving, a shy smile spreading across his face as he got a standing ovation before a friendly audience in his hometown of Manning, South Carolina. The Democrat left out any mention of his suggestion earlier this month that creating a line of action figures modeled after him could create jobs, and avoided any major gaffes as he hit his three major themes of jobs, education and justice.

Primary Surprise Alvin Greene Set to Meet Voters

Greene's 6½ minute speech at the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's monthly meeting was mostly serious. There were platitudes familiar to anyone who has heard a stump speech.

"Let's get South Carolina and America back to work and let's move South Carolina forward," said Greene, one of about a dozen lines that got applause from the several hundred folks crammed into a sweltering junior high gymnasium.

While singing and speeches by others slowly unfolded before Greene took the podium, the candidate occasionally fidgeted, wiped his brow and intently studied a black spiral notebook where he apparently wrote his remarks. The speech had very few of the long pauses that have marked his unprepared conversations with reporters.

Greene rattled off national job loss statistics, and he said the state needs to put more people to work adding more lanes to hurricane evacuation routes.

On education, he mentioned South Carolina's dismal rankings in standardized tests.

And when he talked about justice, Greene called for giving first-time offenders a chance to do community service and pay a fine to have their records wiped clean, which called to mind his own legal troubles. Greene is facing a felony charge of showing obscene Internet photos to a University of South Carolina student.

Greene took no questions from the audience and hustled past a group of reporters on his way out of the building without stopping to talk.

Most of the crowd saw Greene's awkward media interviews in the days after his shocking primary win June 8 over a former judge and state lawmaker who had the full backing of the Democratic party. They'd followed as he withstood a challenge to the vote and calls for him to step aside because of the pending felony charge that came to light only after the win.