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Republicans In Rep. Rice's District Are Stunned He Voted To Impeach Trump

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Of the 10 Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted to impeach President Trump, perhaps none was more surprising than Tom Rice of South Carolina. Republicans in his conservative district are stunned, and some of them are saying he's doomed to lose to a GOP challenger next year. Steve Harrison from member station WFAE has the story.

STEVE HARRISON, BYLINE: When Tom Rice voted to impeach, some people thought it was a mistake. After all, Rice had voted against certifying Joe Biden's victory the week before. In an interview with WMBF News, Rice said he doesn't know if President Trump incited the right-wing mob. But he says he was appalled by his actions or lack thereof while the Capitol was being attacked.

(SOUNDBITE OF WMBF BROADCAST)

TOM RICE: President Trump was tweeting that Vice President Pence didn't have the courage to do what was right and, you know, just further angering the crowd.

HARRISON: He says while he and other congressmen were huddled on the floor...

(SOUNDBITE OF WMBF BROADCAST)

RICE: The president offered only very tepid requests for restraint - things like, you know, the vote was stolen, but don't be too violent - and things like that.

HARRISON: Some Republicans who voted to impeach came from swing districts - not Rice. Since 2013, he's represented the deep-red 7th District, which includes Myrtle Beach. He won reelection with more than 60% percent of the vote. Horry Democratic county chair Tom Kohn praised Rice for, in his words, voting his conscience.

DON KOHN: He's definitely not been known as a maverick. I can't recall one example I could give you where I thought he really went against the party on anything that was significant.

HARRISON: Republicans like Dreama Perdue, the chair of the Horry County GOP, are stunned. That's where Rice started his political career on the county council.

DREAMA PERDUE: I've already had phone calls. There will be several, I think, that will throw their hats in the ring against him.

HARRISON: Rice has said that if his impeachment vote costs him his job in 2022, then so be it.

For NPR News, I'm Steve Harrison in Charlotte.

(SOUNDBITE OF FAZER'S "GLOW, GLOW") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.