Trump receives cheers in South Carolina, Nikki Haley’s territory

COLUMBIA, South Carolinadonald trump He took advantage of the rivalry in a college football tournament to bathe the crowds in a state and region crucial to his aspirations to return to the presidency, while trying to upstage his Republican rival. Nikki Haley on their field in the game between Clemson and South Carolina.

The former president and current favorite in the fight for the Republican nomination in 2024 entered Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia on Saturday amid chants of “We want Trump! “We want Trump!” of fans gathered for the annual Palmetto Bowl duel, the most important sporting event of the year in the state.

Haley, a former Clemson student who was twice elected governor of South Carolina, did not attend.

trump He was invited by the governor, Henry McMaster, Haley’s successor in office. The entourage that entered the venue through a hallway of Trump supporters on the way to his private box also included veteran South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, giving the former president a demonstration of local political strength in a game in which the Haley University.

McMaster became governor in 2017 when Trump named Haley ambassador to the United Nations. Graham and Haley have mostly been allies over the years. But both now support Trump, and the former president enjoys a wide lead in polls among Republican primary voters. That includes both national polls and in the first states to hold primaries, such as South Carolina.

At halftime, Trump came down the field with McMaster and received cheers as he posed for some photos and waved. The ESPN broadcast on the SEC network also showed the former president sitting with McMaster during the meeting.

Hours before the meeting, the campaign trump announced that he had received the support of “more South Carolina legislators than all the opposition candidates combined,” including new endorsements from six state legislators who previously supported U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, before the South Carolina politician will cancel his campaign this month.

Some vendors around the venue offered Trump-related merchandise, including “Trump 2020” flags from the previous election. And some fans entered the stadium before Trump’s arrival chanting “let’s go, Brandon!”, a pejorative allusion to President Joe Biden.

Asked about the imminent primary dispute in her state, Haley’s spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas said that the former governor “is the only candidate who has momentum” and recalled that she was not the initial favorite in the races for a legislative seat and the governorship that he finally won.

“The people of South Carolina know their governor has what it takes to win because they have seen her overcome the odds, not once but twice,” he said.

South Carolina is the fourth state on the Republican primary calendar after Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, and the first in the South, on February 24, 2024. It is followed by several southern states on March 5, the so-called Super Tuesday, when more voters are at stake than on any other day of the primaries.

In 2016, victories in South Carolina and Super Tuesday gave Trump a lead he would not lose again.

FOUNTAIN: With information from AP