As we exclusively reported last month, U.S. president Donald Trump has been planning a trip to South Carolina to campaign on behalf of embattled incumbent “Republican” governor Henry McMaster.
As we noted in our coverage, this presidential visit was “tentatively scheduled for sometime during the month of October,” and was (is?) supposed to provide McMaster’s flagging campaign with vital money and momentum.
Is the visit still on? We’re getting mixed messages …
“Trump was coming to Greenville (on) October 16 and I’m told after last night he is not,” a source close to the 2018 race told us.
“Last night” is a reference to the GOP primary election for the U.S. Senate in Alabama – which saw Trump’s candidate of choice, incumbent Luther Strange, defeated by social conservative stalwart Roy Moore.
“No reason to spend his political capital and he has already repaid (McMaster),” our source said. “He has also realized McMaster wasn’t ‘brave’ to endorse him. No one else asked Henry for his endorsement and the people of South Carolina elected (Trump) – Henry was just the swamp creature standing on stage with him. Trump delivered (South Carolina) for Trump.”
Trump has indeed already repaid McMaster for his 2016 endorsement. The former’s decision to appoint former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley to serve as his ambassador to the United Nations paved the way for McMaster to become governor of the Palmetto State back in January. It was also supposed to have cleared the field for him in the 2018 “Republican” gubernatorial election.
That hasn’t happened, though … at all.
McMaster has drawn multiple credible challengers – most notably Lowcountry attorney Catherine Templeton.
Does this mean McMaster’s “Trump card” has been removed from the deck? Not necessarily …
GOP officials in the Upstate tell us they have heard similar reports about next month’s presidential visit being “off,” although multiple sources close to the McMaster campaign tell us the event is still happening.
“As of last night it was still on,” one national operative familiar with the situation told us.
Meanwhile, two McMaster donors confirmed that they were informed early Wednesday that the event was still a “go.”
Trump’s visit was (is?) supposed to be held at Greenville’s 15,000-seat Bon Secours Wellness Arena, site of the NCAA men’s basketball regionals earlier this year.
When will we know for sure if it’s happening?
The White House usually confirms such trips two weeks ahead of time, which means we should know by October 2 whether the visit is taking place.
One issue that has potentially complicated things for McMaster? The involvement of his struggling campaign strategist, Tim Pearson, in the negotiations surrounding the visit.
Pearson – like Haley – was a full-throated #NeverTrumper during the 2016 “Republican” presidential primary race. So much so that multiple sources at the White House have confirmed to us that they are disinclined to work with the establishment operative on McMaster’s behalf. In fact, we’re told a dossier of Pearson’s many #NeverTrump musings was provided to the White House shortly after he was hired by McMaster back in May.
Stay tuned … we don’t think staff-level intrigue would ever prompt the cancellation of an event like this, but we can certainly see Trump being gun shy to back an establishment “Republican” following the Alabama debacle.
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