February 11, 2016

#PalmettoPrimary Christie makes it official, drops out of presidential race

Christie speaks in Columbia last June (File)

Christie speaks in Columbia last June (File)

After a day of rumors and media reports quoting anonymous staffers, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie finally announced Wednesday evening he will suspend his campaign for president.

“I ran for president with the message that the government needs to once again work for the people, not the people work for the government,” a posting on Christie’s campaign Facebook said. “And while running for president I tried to reinforce what I have always believed – that speaking your mind matters, that experience matters, that competence matters and that it will always matter in leading our nation. That message was heard by and stood for by a lot of people, but just not enough and that’s ok.”

It was a low-key announcement for a man who had once turned down repeated pleas from party leaders to run against President Barack Obama just four years earlier. Christie, a sixth-year governor in a blue state, was never able to generate enthusiasm and was dismissed by the party base as too moderate and too willing to compromise with Democrats.

The governor had pinned his hopes on a strong showing in New Hampshire, but he finished a quiet sixth with just 7 percent of GOP voters supporting him in Tuesday’s primary. Christie also lost ground to other governors John Kasich and Jeb Bush in the results and was facing a very difficult path as a New Jersey moderate in the Southern states that will dominate the next month of primaries. He had done very little campaigning in South Carolina and was not expected to gain significant support even if he had remained in the race.

“I have both won elections that I was supposed to lose and I’ve lost elections I was supposed to win and what that means is you never know what will happen,” the post continued. “That is both the magic and the mystery of politics – you never quite know when which is going to happen, even when you think you do.”

Christie was scheduled to spend Wednesday and Thursday along the South Carolina region, but canceled his appearances in a College of Charleston town hall along with other stops in Mount Pleasant, Beaufort and Hilton Head.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina also formally ended her campaign with a Facebook announcement earlier Wednesday.

Rubio makes stops in South Carolina gearing up for the primary

The New Hampshire primary is history, up next for Republicans is South Carolina and the GOP presidential candidates descended on the state Wednesday.

GOP FL. Sen. Marco Rubio at rally in Columbia Wednesday. South Carolina Radio Network photo.

Florida US Sen. Marco Rubio at a rally in Columbia Wednesday

Florida US Sen. Marco Rubio is part of that wave. He told a crowd at a Columbia rally Wednesday that he believes 2016 this is a make-or-break presidential election for this country. “And that’s why I feel so passionate about this race. Because I know our moment has arrived. And we can either have the greatest era in American history or we will be responsible for America’s decline,” Rubio told a crowd at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center on Wednesday afternoon.

After placing fifth in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday, Rubio tried to sound like the frontrunner in Columbia, including taking a swipe at Hillary Clinton. “And I can tell you this, she is not qualified to be president of the United States,” said Rubio.

Rubio said Americans are not getting a sense that things will be bright down the road. “You open up the newspaper and it says that oil prices are down, gas prices are down, but the economy doesn’t grow and jobs are not being created. So there’s a lack of confidence in the future as well,” Rubio said at the Columbia rally.

Rubio also made a stop in Spartanburg Wednesday. At both rallies he was joined by South Carolina Senator Tim Scott and Congressman Trey Gowdy. Both have endorsed Rubio. He had to cancel an appearance in North Charleston later in the day for a key US Senate vote on North Korea sanctions.

Fiorina ends campaign after poor New Hampshire showing

Carly Fiorina speaks in West Columbia back in December (File)

Carly Fiorina speaks in West Columbia back in December (File)

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina announced on social media Wednesday that she will end her Republican presidential bid, a decision that was widely expected after a distant seventh-place finish in New Hampshire.

“While I suspend my candidacy today, I will continue to travel this country and fight for those Americans who refuse to settle for the way things are and a status quo that no longer works for them,” a Facebook message posted on her account said. “Our Republican Party must fight alongside these Americans as well.

Fiorina only averaged about 3 percent support in both the Iowa and New Hampshire races and her prospects were not looking any better in South Carolina. She was the only Republican candidate who did not have any events planned in the Palmetto State this week.

The California native had a brief surge last fall when she benefitted from anti-establishment attitudes and her debate performance to rise to third in several South Carolina polls. But she never really challenged perceived frontrunner Donald Trump even at her high point in September and soon dropped as many of those supporters instead switched to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Fiorina often acted as a foil to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton on the GOP side, attempting to counter Clinton’s appeal to women. She got off a parting shot in her statement Wednesday. “To young girls and women across the country, I say: do not let others define you. Do not listen to anyone who says you have to vote a certain way or for a certain candidate because you’re a woman. That is not feminism,” the message stated. “Feminism doesn’t shut down conversations or threaten women. It is not about ideology. It is not a weapon to wield against your political opponent.”

#PalmettoPrimary Cruz: I’m the only candidate who can defeat Trump

During a stop in Myrtle Beach on Wednesday, Ted Cruz suggested Donald Trump’s easy win over more moderate Republicans in New Hampshire shows the Texas senator is the only Republican presidential candidate who can beat Trump.

Cruz told reporters that Iowa showed he can beat Trump and insisted he can do so again in South Carolina if split voters gather behind him. “If you don’t believe Donald is the right person to be the Republican nominee,” he told reporters in a brief media availability Wednesday. “If you don’t believe he’s the right person to go head-to-head with Hillary Clinton, if you don’t think he’s the right person to be commander-in-chief, what we’re seeing is conservatives uniting behind our campaign.”

He made the remarks shortly before speaking at the Ground Zero youth club.

South Carolina voters have consistently favored Trump in polls, usually by double-digits, although no major polling has been released of Republicans here since January. Cruz is hoping for support among undecided conservative southerners by portraying Trump as a man who has previously supported Democratic positions on healthcare and eminent domain.

“The only way to beat Donald Trump is to highlight the simple truth of his record: it is not conservative,” he said. “If you want a proven conservative, then don’t listen to campaign rhetoric. Ask who has walked the walk.”

The Texas senator had been planning to travel to Spartanburg for an event this evening. However, he instead had to return to Washington for a Senate vote. His wife Heidi Cruz will still appear at the Summit Pointe Convention Center around 5 p.m. Sen. Cruz will return to South Carolina on Thursday, when he appears at the Carolina Values Summit at Winthrop University in Rock Hill. He also plans to appear in a rally with radio host Glenn Beck Thursday evening at a Fort Mill church.

#PalmettoPrimary Christie cancels SC events Wednesday

Christie speaks in Columbia last June (File)

Christie speaks in Columbia last June (File)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie canceled a visit to South Carolina on Wednesday and instead returned to his home in the Garden State after a disappointing finish in Tuesday night’s New Hampshire GOP primary.

The move sparked speculation that he will soon drop out of the race.

Just below 8 percent of GOP voters chose Christie in Tuesday’s primary, putting him in sixth place despite the fact he had made campaigning in that state a top priority. The governor also lost ground to other governors John Kasich and Jeb Bush in the results and was facing a very difficult path as a New Jersey moderate in the Southern states that will dominate the next month of primaries.

“We’ve decided we’re going to go home to New Jersey tomorrow and we’re going to take a deep breath and see what the final results are,’’ Christie told his supporters in New Hampshire as the results came in.

Christie was scheduled to spend Wednesday in the Charleston region, appearing in a Conservative Leadership Project town hall at the College of Charleston and speaking to prospective voters at Sticky Fingers restaurant in Mt. Pleasant.