ANDERSON, S.C. (WSPA) — More than 2,000 people gathered for Congressman Jeff Duncan’s 12th Annual Faith & Freedom BBQ Monday. With months until the South Carolina Presidential Primary, the event focused on the upcoming election.

“I think this large crowd shows an excitement in this campaign season and how people want to hear an ‘America First’ message,” Duncan said.

Duncan invited presidential candidates Ron DeSantis and Tim Scott to speak at the barbeque. However, he maintained the event was not an endorsement of either candidate.

“They [voters] need to hear from the candidates, and the candidates really need to see how their message resonates with a conservative crowd,” he said.

DeSantis was chosen to headline the event but was unable to attend as he remained in Florida ahead of Tropical Storm Idalia. He provided a pre-recorded video message instead.

“We are in danger of being the first generation of Americans to leave to our kids and grandkids a country that is less prosperous and less free than the one we inherited” DeSantis said in a video message. “That would be a tragedy if we allowed that to happen. I will not let that happen.”

DeSantis’ wife, Casey DeSantis, spoke on his behalf.

“When you put Ron DeSantis in the White House, he is going to stand up for your interests, and he is never going to back down,” Casey DeSantis said.

Meanwhile, Scott emphasizied that, if elected, he will focus on “restoring hope” and “creating opportunities” for Americans.

“When you’re on the campaign trail running for president, people always ask you, ‘Why are you running for president?,'” Scott said. “My answer is a simple same answer. I know America can do for anyone what she’s done for me.”

As president, Scott also vowed to take an aggressive foreign policy approach on China and to close the southern border.

“We can finish the southern border for $10 billion,” he said. “It’s time to have a president of the United States who believes that border security is our national security and is the biggest issue we face in keeping Americans safe in the land that we call home.”

Monday’s barbeque also featured speeches from state leaders, including Superintendent of Education Ellen Weaver and Attorney General Alan Wilson.