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2024

Donald Trump Touts His South Carolina Firewall

Former president unveils expanded ‘First in the South’ support …

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In 2000, South Carolina was then-Texas governor George W. Bush‘s so-called “firewall.” A last line of defense against an insurgent rival. In one of the nastiest campaigns in American political history, Bush “gutted” U.S. senator John McCain after the Arizona Republican shocked the GOP establishment with an upset win over Bush in the 2000 New Hampshire GOP primary.

And just to be clear, “gutted” was the precise word used by one of Bush’s former campaign aides to describe what happened to McCain in the Palmetto State – a hatchet job which included false allegations that McCain illegitimately fathered a black child, among other incendiary attacks.

McCain would win in South Carolina eight years later en route to the GOP nomination – but the warmongering “neoconservative” wound up getting routed by Barack Obama in the general election.

While its reputation for bare-knuckle political brawling is not quite what it was a quarter century ago, South Carolina political operatives have never shied away from a fight. And say what you will about the dirtiness of the process, it has proven effective in terms of picking the eventual GOP nominee. Only once has the Palmetto State Republican electorate failed to choose the Republican standard-bearer – a streak that seems unlikely to be broken anytime soon.

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As the 2024 nominating process inches ever-closer to the first votes being cast in Iowa, former U.S. president Donald Trump remains the runaway frontrunner – and to many the presumptive GOP nominee. He has a huge lead over his top rivals Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis nationally and, more importantly, in each of the three critical early-voting states.

While his South Carolina support has always been solid, Trump is actually strongest in Iowa – where Haley has recently overtaken DeSantis for second place. A few weeks ago, I penned a column suggesting that Haley’s recent Hawkeye State surge could lead to better-than-expected finishes for her both in Iowa and New Hampshire – presaging “a potential election-defining showdown in her home state” on February 24, 2024.

Could that still happen?

Dylan Nolan and I will be discussing that on this weekend’s edition of the Week In Review, but in the meantime Trump – who rolled out his South Carolina supporters in a show of force a year ago – is burnishing his Palmetto State firewall.

In a release from his national campaign this week, Trump announced he had amassed endorsements from “over 100 current and former Republican officials,” and had “more legislative endorsements than all opposing candidates combined.”

His top tier backers? All familiar names: Governor Henry McMaster, U.S. senator Lindsey Graham, attorney general Alan Wilson, state treasurer Curtis Loftis, lieutenant governor Pamela Evette, secretary of state Mark Hammond, House speaker Murrell Smith and U.S. congressmen Joe Wilson, William Timmons and Russell Fry.

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RELATED | DUKING IT OUT IN DES MOINES

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Trump’s campaign said his list of more than a hundred elected leaders was bolstered by “more than 250 grassroots leaders who endorsed President Trump in South Carolina in June.”

“There is incredible energy and momentum for President Trump, and I am honored to endorse the proven leader who will fix our border and get our economy back on track,” said state representative Case Brittain, one of Trump’s legislative backers. “South Carolina is going to play a critical role on President Trump’s path to becoming the 45th and 47th President of the United States, and everything I’m seeing on the ground shows he is going to dominate on February 24.” 

While pollsters have been focused on Iowa and New Hampshire, Haley saw her home state numbers improve in the first poll of 2024. According to an Emerson College survey released last week, she’s backed by 25 percent of the GOP electorate – still significantly behind Trump’s 54 percent but well ahead of her nearest rival, DeSantis, who received only 7 percent support.

How will those numbers change after we see Iowa and New Hampshire voters register their preference?

We shall see …

As for this media outlet, we endorsed Trump in 2016 – but not in 2020. Why not? For starters, he didn’t do what he said he was going to do on middle class tax relief, spending cuts and debt reduction. Also, his bid to raise gas taxes and his failure to follow through on the border wall were tremendously disappointing.

Who will FITSNews endorse in 2024? Stay tuned …

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

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 and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and eight children.

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5 comments

GT January 12, 2024 at 9:24 pm

If there is one thing FitsNews has shown the world in the last few years, it that being a MAGA blogger is like pissing into the wind.

Reply
SC MAGA voters January 13, 2024 at 11:24 am

We love the overwhelming smell of butt mixed with make up in the morning!

Reply
Nanker Phelge January 13, 2024 at 3:16 pm

“Who will FITSNews endorse in 2024?”

Nobody cares.

Reply
Rob January 14, 2024 at 10:12 pm

Do people give a damn about who stinking politicians in South Carolina endorse?

Does an endorsement matter to anyone? LOL

Reply
CongareeCatfish Top fan January 16, 2024 at 5:40 pm

I voted for Trump twice. But I’m not voting for him in the primary. However, if he is the nominee, I’ll vote for him again, because the other alternative is basically the Germany 1930s style version of emerging, evolving communism (although for Germany, it was fascism). But people need to open their eyes. Despite all the wrongs done to him in the Russiagate hoax, the impeachment for trying to inquire into the Bidens’ corrupt skunkworks in Ukraine, the laughable accusation that he lead or incited an insurrection, and the strong possibility that there was fraudulent activity in the swing states in the 2020 election, the fact remains that the US Dept of Justice has something like a 99% conviction rate for cases brought in the DC circuit, which has a higher percentage of Democrat voters than the bluest of blue states. Think about that. And the same is true for the DOJ in the Southern District of New York (apart from the voting block numbers, but its still astronomically high). The possibility that Trump is going to end up in jail for one of the 90+ concocted charges against him is VERY REAL. Way too many people think the GOP can “MAGA” their way out of this, but reality is sometimes brutal and harsh, and even very, very wrong. There are people all over the world who were put away in jail by their corrupt political opponents via rigged legal systems. Trump is going to have to beat every single one of these cases and charges to get to the White House, and an ever-increasingly corrupt federal government is getting more and more desperate by the day. DeSantis has all of the conservative bonafides and track record that Trump has – arguably even better than Trump- minus the “kulturekampf” baggage and criminal charges to fight off. Look at the election outcome difference in his own state of Florida, where DeSantis’ margin of victory was substantially higher than Trump’s. That tells you volumes about what the general election voters think, which is more important than the much smaller subset of GOP primary voters think.

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