The last time Donald Trump held a rally in South Carolina, almost a year ago, thousands showed up. The pre-rally reception boasted 36 co-chairs, showing the power the former president still held over the party he once made his. Now look at him. A new report by The Washington Post reveals that plans for his next rally in the state aren’t going so hot. Not only is his team eyeing a much smaller venue — from one that could hold thousands to one that maxes out about 500 — but the thus far lazy candidate is struggling to find someone, anyone to support him.
The report finds the state’s GOP lawmakers and political operatives unsure if they want to throw their weight behind a guy who ended 2022 as King Midas in reverse. (Although he improbably still smashes it in certain polls.) They may not have ditched him forever, but they are checking out other options:
They find themselves divided between their support for Trump, their desire for a competitive nomination fight in the state and their allegiance to two South Carolina natives, former governor Nikki Haley and Sen. Tim Scott, who have taken steps to challenge Trump for the nomination. Both are said by people close to them to be seriously considering a bid, and Haley is expected to announce in the coming weeks, South Carolina operatives said.
At least he (probably) has Lindsey Graham, as well as the state’s governor, Henry McMaster. But many of the co-chairs at his previous South Carolina rally last spring, like state party chairman Drew McKissick, Rep. Ralph Norman, as well as Scott, aren’t planning to attend.
As for voters, Trump has run into a bit of a snag: He recently pissed off evangelicals:
Dave Wilson, president of Palmetto Family Council, an influential evangelical group, said “there is more than a little bit of softening” of Trump support in South Carolina, saying many had been turned off by some of his recent comments, including questioning the loyalty of evangelical voters. Wilson said many evangelicals in the state wanted to wait and see who got into the race.
One unnamed state lawmaker seemed cautiously semi-optimistic, predicting he would eventually re-consolidate support. It just might take a while. Or state GOP lawmakers and voters may move on to a younger model, they said: “Right now my constituency is as excited about Ron DeSantis as Donald Trump, if not more.”
In the meantime, hopefully he didn’t alienate one of his biggest cheerleaders, Rochelle “Silk” Richardson, just because he blurted out that he had no idea who she was, which he did at her own sister’s memorial service.