A daily look at how the presidential candidates of both parties are trying to win the “First in the South” primary
Donald Trump on Wednesday ended weeks of speculation about whether or not he would file the necessary paperwork to officially enter the presidential race. South Carolina GOP Chairman Matt Moore said Trump had signed the party pledge shortly before his appearance at a Columbia town hall meeting, filed his campaign papers and paid the required $40,000 to enter the South Carolina primary next year.
The party’s deadline to file is next week.
Trump made two different speeches in South Carolina on Wednesday. He spoke during a meeting of the Greater Charleston Business Alliance, which was supposed to be an address to the minority small business group, but ended up being a predominantly-white audience which only took up half the ballroom.
Then he spoke to more than a thousand people at the Koger Center for Performing Arts in Columbia. The event was a town hall hosted by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott as part of his ongoing series with Republican presidential candidates.
Trump returned to many of his usual talking points – build a wall along the Mexican border, be better at preventing companies from moving overseas, and be tougher on China.
He also expressed support for the idea that the U.S. should stay out of the Syria-ISIS fight as Russian troops become more involved. “Let them fight ISIS,” he said, of reports that Russia is supplying the Syrian government and launching its own airstrikes against ISIS. “Russia wants to fight because they don’t want ISIS coming into Russia. They have an obligation to fight them, in a certain way as much or more than we do.”
He also responded to criticism from those in “the media” who say he is not giving specifics about how to handle the Mideast. “I don’t want to talk too much about what I want to do,” he said. “(The media) talk about ‘not specific.’ You don’t want to be too specific. You don’t want the enemy to hear what you’re doing.”
As a condition for filing, Trump signed a pledge saying he would support the party’s nominee. While not legally binding, GOP leaders say they are confident Trump will honor the pledge and not run as a third-party candidate if he does not win the Republican nomination.
— Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina also formally filed for next year’s Republican primary on Wednesday. Fiorina’s campaign submitted the paperwork at the South Carolina GOP headquarters in Columbia, signed the party pledge to support the eventual nominee and paid the required $40,000 fee. She also made campaign stops at a Lexington barbecue joint and at Winthrop University in Rock Hill on Wednesday.
— Candidates must file by September 30 to be on South Carolina’s Republican primary ballot next February. Eleven of the remaining GOP candidates have done so, as did Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker before he dropped out of the race this week. SCGOP Chairman Matt Moore said Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have indicated they plan to file next week. Moore said he has not heard from the campaigns of former New York governor George Pataki or former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore.
— Paul was also in South Carolina on Wednesday. He spoke to audiences in Rock Hill, Spartanburg, and at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Paul is hoping his appeals to younger voters, who are less strict on party ideology and lean more libertarian on social issues, can win over more support to his struggling campaign. He criticized former Florida governor Jeb Bush for continuing to support the criminalization of marijuana despite Bush’s own admission that he used drugs while younger.
— Speaking of Bush, he will be in Mount Pleasant Thursday night. He will speaking at a dinner for the East Cooper Republican Women’s Club. The 6:30 event at Alhambra Hall is sold-out, organizers say… Fiorina also continues her three-day South Carolina tour on Thursday. She will speak at Converse College around 9:00 a.m., then tour the Carolina Pregnancy Center around 10:00 a.m.