MAGA Once More? Donald Trump Comes To South Carolina

‘First in the South’ campaign kicks off …

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Former U.S. president Donald Trump hit the campaign trail in his third bid for the White House over the weekend, making stops in a pair of key primary states – including South Carolina – in an effort to reassert his dominance over the early-voting Republican electorate.

An “invitation-only” crowd of approximately 200 people gathered inside the upper lobby of the S.C. State House – in the shadow of a statue of former vice-president John C. Calhoun – to hear Trump lay out his case for a second, non-consecutive term in office.

“Every day in America has become April Fool’s Day,” the 45th president said, referring to the administration of his successor, U.S. president Joe Biden. “This campaign will be about the future – this campaign will be about issues. Joe Biden has put America on the fast track to ruin and destruction and we will ensure that he does not receive four more years.”

If Trump wants a rematch with Biden, though, first he must fend off challenges from within his own party – including a potential bid from former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley.

As I noted last month, Trump has seen his star fade among GOP voters nationally following the 2022 midterm elections. Several recent polls have shown his top potential 2024 rival – Florida governor Ron DeSantis – besting him in a hypothetical contest between the two candidates.

(Click to View)

Florida governor Ron DeSantis addresses a group of conservative activists (Gage Skidmore)

DeSantis is also encroaching on Trump in the Palmetto State. According to a recently released poll from the Atlanta, Georgia-based Trafalgar Group, the 44-year-old Jacksonville native is backed by 27.8 percent of the state’s GOP electorate – putting him just 15.6 percentage points behind Trump.

U.S. senator Tim Scott was backed by 14.3 percent of South Carolina Republican voters, while Haley came in fourth with 11.6 percent support.

The former president was flanked by his top two Palmetto State supporters – the reflexively obedient governor Henry McMaster and the opportunistically mercurial U.S. senator Lindsey Graham – during his South Carolina visit.

McMaster dutifully nodded, smiled, clapped and laughed on cue. When it was his turn to speak, he offered the following endorsement: “We believe in common sense, we believe in the Declaration of Independence, we believe in the Constitution, we believe in the Bible and we believe in you.”

Trump spent a great deal of his address hammering away on energy issues.

“Just like I did last time, I will unleash America’s vast energy resources,” he said. “It’s all-invasive. This is a big thing – energy.”

The former president also vowed to “knock the hell out of inflation,” pointing out that “families are being crushed with real wages down 21 months in a row.”



Trump specifically vowed to help middle class families in South Carolina – although it is worth recalling he reneged on his 2016 promises to target tax relief to the middle class.

Trump also hearkened back to another another familiar theme – border security and his much-ballyhooed wall (another promise that didn’t exactly pan out).

“Lethal drugs are pouring across our wide open borders,” he said, vowing to “impose criminal penalties on any future administration” that eroded America’s borders.

In addition to McMaster and Graham, Trump was flanked by S.C. lieutenant governor Pamela Evette, treasurer Curtis Loftis, congressmen Joe Wilson, Russell Fry and William Timmons, former lieutenant governor Andre Bauer, former U.S. attorney Peter McCoy and former ambassador to Switzerland Ed McMullen.

“These are friends of mine, they’re great politicians” Trump said. “We’ve got tremendous support – I think we’ve got tremendous support all over the country.”

To view Trump’s full remarks, click here.

Trump gave a good speech. The problem? We’ve heard it before. In 2016. And Trump absolutely failed to deliver.

Contrary to his campaign promises, Trump was absolutely terrible on bread and butter fiscal issues. In fact, he stayed terrible on the fiscal front right up to the bitter end of his administration – which is one reason the pre-Covid economy failed to grow as fast as it could have (and part of the reason we are dealing with the runaway inflation he is now vowing to “knock out”).

Nonetheless, his allies remain firmly in his corner – and are clearly eager to dispel the notion that the party needs new blood.

“People say ‘we like Trump policies but we want someone new,'” Graham said during his remarks. “There are no Trump policies without Donald Trump.”

Trump’s visit to early-voting South Carolina wasn’t his only campaign stop of the day. Prior to visiting the State House, Trump attended the New Hampshire GOP’s annual meeting in Salem, New Hampshire. There, he vowed to protect the Granite State’s first-in-the-nation primary status.

““From the very beginning, I’ve strongly defended New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary status,” he said. “I’ve been your defender, and I’ve refused to let any Republican … even think about taking that cherished status away.”

Trump also claimed Democrats’ recent decision to move South Carolina ahead of New Hampshire on their primary calendar was a vindictive move on Biden’s part.

“Joe Biden lost it badly, and it was a very tough time,” Trump said. “He had a humiliating fifth place defeat, and now he’s taking a revenge on the voters of your state by cruelly and disgracefully trashing this beloved political tradition.”

“I hope you’re going to remember that during the general election,” Trump told New Hampshire voters.

Again, though … first he’s got to win the GOP nomination.

Trump is currently the only announced GOP presidential candidate. He won the Palmetto State’s “First in the South” presidential primary in 2016 as an outsider – en route to his upset victory over former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Four years later, in 2020, the SCGOP controversially canceled its quadrennial election as a sop to Trump even though he had primary opposition (including former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford).




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    Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.



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    Observer January 29, 2023 at 6:03 pm

    Fits should have included a “none of the above” category in their poll. About the only one of Trump’s “team” at this event worth a crap was Mr Loftis. The rest, a bunch of worthless RINOs devoid of integrity, just like Trump.

    Frank January 31, 2023 at 6:33 pm

    Could someone explain what a “Real” Republican is and what one they stand for?

    All you ever hear are various Republicans calling each other RINOs.

    Who are the “Real” deal?

    Observer February 1, 2023 at 1:27 am

    Out of that group, definitely Curtis Loftis! He has integrity and does what is right by his constituents. The rest, all about themselves, what will elevate them to the next level, and what pads their wallet.

    Oh, Joe Wilson probably would like to blow Zelenskyy as much as Lindsey would Trump.

    Observer February 12, 2023 at 9:12 am

    Are you sure Joe hasn’t already tried it (Zelenskyy) and decided he liked it?

    Observer February 1, 2023 at 1:28 am

    Out of that group, definitely Curtis Loftis! He has integrity and does what is right by his constituents. The rest, all about themselves, what will elevate them to the next level, and what pads their wallet.

    Oh, Joe Wilson probably would like to blow Zelenskyy as much as Lindsey would Trump.

    Kathleen Bounds Top fan January 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    SO – exactly what was the (very short-) rental rate to book the SC State House for the #45 rally yesterday???

    But wait – Isn’t this “the peoples’ house”???

    There are folks from BOTH parties who are looking forward to their share of the gate.

    MY invitation must’ve gotten lost in the mail ….

    PS – Will, you’re a great dad to a great family! Must be hard to be away for such a long stretch. KB

    Squishy123 (the original) January 29, 2023 at 7:36 pm

    Who are the idiots voting for Nikki Haley? She couldn’t run SC, but thinks she can run the country.

    Observer January 29, 2023 at 8:04 pm

    Excellent point, Squishy! If you are the original, good to see you back!

    hey bozo February 20, 2023 at 7:50 am

    same ones voting for your drooler n chief

    Observer January 30, 2023 at 4:03 am

    Oh, I must disagree with you about Haley just a bit. She DID run South Carolina. She ran it into the damn ground!


    Chris January 29, 2023 at 9:49 pm

    Trump will win SC and win it big.

    Yup February 6, 2023 at 9:58 am

    SC loves losers!

    It a birds of a feather type deal.

    Neal Player Top fan February 17, 2023 at 2:37 pm

    Yes, Yes, YES!!!!

    Mark Jones Top fan January 30, 2023 at 6:37 am

    What was back stabbing, Lindsey doing there?

    Observer January 31, 2023 at 5:18 pm

    Probably there to give Trump a reach-around.

    Goobersmacker January 30, 2023 at 9:50 am

    McMaster may be an even bigger POS than TFG. Little Lad Lovin’ Lindsey sure is.

    Anonymous January 31, 2023 at 6:46 am

    t-rump and his tag alongs are an embarrassment to our state..shame on all of them! I would not and will never vote for evil as such!

    elizabeth January 31, 2023 at 6:47 am

    t-rump and his tag alongs are an embarrassment to our state..shame on all of them! I would not and will never vote for evil as such!

    Tom Jones January 31, 2023 at 10:25 am

    I watched as much of Trump’s “speech” as I could stand. He said the same stupid shit and the morons in the audience still cheered. I can’t imagine why he had his first “event” in SC. Politics is kinda like liquor. Both turn reasonably intelligent human beings into morons.

    Ritchie March 5, 2023 at 8:48 am

    My favorite moment of Trump’s visit to SC was his comment (yet again) about “draining the swamp” and “going after the RINOs” while flanked by Lindsey Graham & Joe Wilson.

    Yeah, sure, whatever Don…..


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