A daily look at how the presidential candidates of both parties are trying to win the “First in the South” primary.
Seven Republicans candidates will gather in Columbia this weekend for a forum focused on ways to deal with poverty in America. However, the two candidates polling highest at this point will not be among them.
The Kemp Forum on Expanding Opportunity will be moderated by House Speaker Paul Ryan and South Carolina’s US Sen. Tim Scott. Organizers say each of the candidates will individually answer questions “on their ideas for fighting poverty and expanding opportunity in America on the eve of an historic election,” according to Opportunity Lives, which is one of the event’s sponsors.
Those candidates set to participate in Saturday’s event are: former Florida governor Jeb Bush, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida US Sen. Marco Rubio.
However, the two men with the highest polling numbers in the GOP primary at this time — real estate tycoon Donald Trump and Texas US Sen. Ted Cruz — will not participate. Also sitting this one out will be Kentucky US Sen. Rand Paul, former Pennsylvania US Sen. Rick Santorum and former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore.
Gov. Nikki Haley is scheduled to appear at the event, which is being held at the Columbia Convention Center.
The forum is named for the late US Rep. Jack Kemp — a former New York congressman and GOP vice presidential candidate — who worked to combat poverty while in Congress and as former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under former President George H.W. Bush.
— Trump will still be in South Carolina this weekend, stopping at Winthrop University in Rock Hill around 7 pm Friday. The real estate tycoon has been averaging close to a stop per week in the Palmetto State since December, and has consistently drawn the largest crowds. The event will be at the Winthrop Coliseum. Visitors are encouraged to arrive early due to the Secret Service’s tight security screening.
— Bush will make a quick stop at a diner in Anderson County on Friday night. The former Florida governor will participate in a town hall at Dyar’s Diner in Pendleton starting around 6:30 pm. Bush will then take part in the Kemp Forum on Saturday, before traveling to the Marriott hotel on Hilton HEad Island for a 5:00 pm event. That event is hosted by the Beaufort County GOP.
Marco Rubio, who polls show in third place on the Republican side, plans to make a quick stop in Aiken on Saturday before he also participates in the Kemp Forum. The Florida senator was initially supposed to speak at Newberry Hall around 9:00 a.m., but organizers cited overwhelming registration and moved the event to the Aiken County Fairgrounds.
All Trump, Bush and Rubio events are free to the public.