In front of a crowd thousands under the bright early-fall sun, former President Donald Trump predicted victory in February’s South Carolina primary.
Trump has a healthy lead in the polls five months before ballots are cast in the First in the South nominating contest.
At the Summerville rally, which was attended by Gov. Henry McMaster, Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette and Treasurer Curtis Loftis, Trump announced endorsements from S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson and Secretary of State Mark Hammond, further strengthening his position among statewide elected Republicans.
“With their help we’re going to win the South Carolina primary by a lot,” Trump said.
Although U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham was not in attendance, Trump thanked the state’s senior senator. The crowd booed the mention of Graham, just like Trump supporters did at the former president’s rally in Pickens in July. However, Trump quickly tamped it down this time.
“He helps me on the left,” Trump said during his roughly 40-minute speech, which was shorter than crowds at his rallies are accustom to.
He briefly criticized the criminal charges he’s facing in Georgia, New York and in federal court and said they are only helping his campaign.
“At the end, they want to silence me, because they want to silence you,” Trump said.
Much of Trump’s speech at manufacturer Sportsman Boats dealt with the economy, and he promised to “turn the Biden economic bust into the Trump economic boon.”
The former president spoke in Summerville two days ahead of the second GOP presidential debate, which, like the first one in August, he plans to skip. Instead, Trump is scheduled to speak in front of autoworkers in Michigan.
Colleen and Joe Mercantini, of Pinewood, attended the rally. Joe Mercantini, 63, is a retired marine, and Colleen Mercantini, 59, is a retired food lab technician.
They are worried about inflation, including prices at the grocery store.
“He’s a very eloquent speaker. The words just roll off his tongue. He’s not up there making up stories,” Colleen Mercantini said. “I find him to be very honest and patriotic. And that’s what we need, and (he’s) strong.”
Dorothy Harpe, 73, of Atlanta, traveled more than four hours for the rally. The Black woman said she appreciated what Trump did for the Black community during his presidency, including increasing federal funding for HBCUs.
“I love Trump. I like his values, his policies,” said the retired church supervisor. “He has the Christian morals. (He is) pro-life.”
Mark Hall, 43, of Cross, who works at Sportsman Boats, came to the rally even though the event took over his work place for the day.
“I like his ideas and what he wants to do for the manufacturing industry, blue-collar workers. You know, manufacturing is South Carolina’s, one of our main go-to’s, (it’s) what keeps us afloat,” Hall said.
Trump was buoyed by a new Washington Post/ABC News poll which showed him 10 points ahead of President Joe Biden in a national head-to-head match up.
Monday was Trump’s fourth visit this year to South Carolina, a state a voted for him in the 2016 First in the South presidential primary and in the the 2016 and 2020 general elections.
Trump’s visit to the Charleston area included stops at his campaign office in North Charleston and at Palmetto State Armory in Summerville.
Trump has large leads in polls in the state, with two recent polls showing he was 28 points ahead of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
A National Public Affairs Poll of South Carolina Republican primary voters released Monday has Trump at 46% and Haley with 21%.
Ahead of Trump’s event, the South Carolina Democratic Party was speaking out against his the three appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court that led to the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
“Donald Trump is the president who backed a federal abortion ban that threatened jail time for doctors who provided care, and just a few months ago, he indicated that he would support another one again,” state Democratic Party Chairwoman Christale Spain said. “Let’s be clear: If Donald Trump gets back in the White House, he’s going to do everything in his power to ban abortion nationwide.”
Trump recently has been critical of the six-week abortion ban signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, but he has not spoken about the South Carolina six-week ban, which went into effect last month after it was ruled constitutional by the state Supreme Court.