WATCH: Trump visits the SC State House on campaign trail, announces state campaign leadership
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The South Carolina State House was closed to the public all day Saturday. Former President Donald Trump visited it in one of the first events for his 2024 presidential campaign.
Trump unveiled his South Carolina leadership team, including Gov. Henry McMaster and Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Speaking to the State House crowd, Trump said he would restore election integrity if elected to a second term. He called the 2020 election ‘rigged’ when he spoke with WIS’ Mary Green.
When asked why he would run again if he believed the system was rigged and expect a different result, “I think it’s going to be changed. I think the laws are stricter now. They’ve passed a lot of laws. I think a lot of states have brought it back to their legislatures.”
At this stage of the campaign for president, only Trump has announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination. Others who might join the field include former SC Gov. Nikki Haley.
Trump said he spoke with Haley recently, “She called me a few days ago, just to talk to me, generally speaking. I mean, I don’t whether or not she’s running, if her heart’s there.”
Trump continued, “She said she would never run against me because I was the greatest president, but you know, people change their opinions and they change what’s in their hearts.”
“So I said, “If your heart wants to do it, you have to go do it.”
When asked by Green if Haley had indicated she was thinking about running or was going to, “Not really indicate. She wanted to have my opinion more than anything else.
A recent poll by the South Carolina Policy Council of likely Republican votes in the Palmetto State found in a head to head competition, 52% would rather see Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on the ballot over Trump.
Green asked, “What do you think about the prospects of Gov. DeSantis getting into the race, and how concerned are you about him?”
Trump said, “I’m not concerned about him at all. I’m leading in polls by a lot over him. We’re doing very well. I’m not concerned. I’m the one that got him in. He would’ve never won without my endorsement. So if he does run, I think it would show great disloyalty. But that’s OK because perhaps it’s not about disloyalty. With me, loyalty’s very important.”
Green asked, “What do you say to those voters who say they, you know, don’t want to automatically hand you the nomination quite yet. They want to see who else is in the field, and they want other Republicans in the field?”
Trump replied, “Well I think that when they look at what we’ve done over the four years that I ran this country and we ran it beautifully, with the strongest economy ever. We had the lowest taxes. We had the biggest tax cut in history, the biggest regulation cut in history. We created Space Force. We did so much.”
Saturday’s event was more intimate than previous rallies Trump has held in the past. The Columbia fire marshal said there about 350 people in the State House to see Trump speak, with others in the overflow area downstairs watching a feed of his remarks.
In advance of Trump’s visit to SC, Green spoke one-one-one with the Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison.
Harrison said, “I think what you see with the president’s visit to South Carolina is that the ‘Team Extreme’ is coming back together. You have President Trump, you have Gov. McMaster, you have Sen. Graham, who all have extreme views that I think the vast majority of the country have rejected.”
Saturday afternoon saw a crowd gather outside the State House in the hours leading up to former President Donald Trump’s visit. Additional security and fencing were deployed to the area in anticipation of his arrival.
President Trump opened his speech by announcing Gov. Henry McMaster is leading his SC leadership team. McMaster was among the first state-level officials to endorse Trump during his 2016 campaign. Trump called McMaster, “He’s a man of common sense.”
Trump also announced Sen. Lindsey Graham, Lt. Governor Pamela Evette, Congressman Joe Wilson, and State Treasurer Curtis Loftis were supporting him.
McMaster spoke after Trump, “As you have noticed this crowd loves you.” “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,” he said.
WIS Has embedded his full remarks below.
Here’s how it looks outside and near the SC State House ahead of former President Donald Trump’s campaign event inside this afternoon. Gov. Henry McMaster, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Congressman Russell Fry expected to be among those in attendance. pic.twitter.com/q3is9FfwMB— Mary Green (@MaryGreenNews) January 28, 2023
Columbia fire marshal says the third-floor balcony is at capacity at ~100 people, and the second floor, where I am, has ~250 right now (capacity on this floor is normally 300, but with all the cameras and equipment, they’re cutting it to ~250) pic.twitter.com/53glB6xqTj— Mary Green (@MaryGreenNews) January 28, 2023
Saturday’s trip is his first visit to the Palmetto State in his run for re-election.
Slight traffic delays were reported in the downtown area from the crowd.
Saturday will see additional security at the State House in Columbia during former President Donald Trump’s visit.
Organizers said he will be joined by Sen. Lindsey Graham and Gov. Henry McMaster, he is currently scheduled to begin speaking at around 4 p.m.
Before stopping in Columbia Trump will visit New Hampshire.
The SC Department of Public Safety said it is coordinating with Secret Service protection protocols. On Saturday, Jan. 28, multiple streets will be closed and access will be limited to the building.
The State House complex will be closed to the public. Any access will only be available through the east side grounds on Sumter St.
- Sumter Street, between Gervais Street and Pendleton Street
- Pendleton Street, between Assembly Street and Main Street
- Senate Street, from Sumter Street to Marion Street
The DNC issued a statement in advance of Trump’s visit,
“In his bid to consolidate support and scare off competitors, Donald Trump is reminding everyone of just how extreme the MAGA agenda was - from paving the way for the most extreme abortion bans, gifting tax giveaways to the ultra-wealthy and biggest corporations, and embracing the most fringe policies and divisive rhetoric. The rest of the GOP 2024 field is tripping over itself to be just as extreme and this is just the beginning in their race for the MAGA base.”
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