President Donald Trump visited South Carolina Monday to campaign on behalf of Governor Henry McMaster one day before the Republican primary runoff.
The line of Trump supporters waiting to get into the gym at Airport High School stretched all the way from the gym in the back of the building to the school’s front doors at 3 p.m. — three hours before the rally was scheduled to begin. Although they waited in the 100-degree heat, many of them did not get into the gym, which was filled to capacity.
“I said, ‘Henry I don’t work gymnasiums anymore,” Trump joked in his roughly hour-long speech.
Trump said he was impressed with those who stayed outside to greet him, even though Air Force One did not land at Columbia Metropolitan Airport until more than an hour later than scheduled due to thunderstorms in the area.
“I want to thank the incredible people of South Carolina for everything you’ve done,” he said. “And right from day one, when I came down here, Henry McMaster, I said, ‘So why are you with me?’ He said, ‘because I like what you say. I agree we need strong borders. We’re talking about it now and we have them.”
In the rambling one-hour speech, the President fired up the crowd on a variety of issues: late-night talk shows, his wife, Melania, what he calls unfair coverage by the news media (“We just want honesty …fairness,” he said), Hillary Clinton, the peace talks with North Korea, Lowcountry Congressman Mark Sanford (“I never liked him much,” he said), his new relationship with U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham, his hair, the decline of The Apprentice, polls, Space Force, tariffs and winning. He even joked about ignoring the words that had been written for him in his Teleprompter, which he ignored.
“They’re true,” he said. “They’re not just as exciting…. Sometimes you have to toot your own horn because nobody else is going to do it.”
The crowd responded with a variety of cheers and chants, including “Lock her up!” responding to the President’s remarks about Clinton, and “Build the wall!”
Trump spent most of his address talking about whatever crossed his mind, only occasionally focusing specifically on South Carolina. He noted a steel mill reopened its doors in Georgetown this week, three years after its previous owner closed operations.
“Henry (McMaster) was for me from the beginning,” Tump said. “There was nobody else. It wasn’t like, ‘I supported Trump.’ You know some of these guys say, ‘I supported Donald Trump very early.’ Yeah. After seven other people. After the defeat of nine people they were with me.”
McMaster faces Upstate businessman John Warren on Tuesday in the Republican runoff for governor. McMaster has played up his endorsement of Trump the month before the 2016 South Carolina presidential primary. At the time, few establishment party leaders were backing Trump and McMaster — then lieutenant governor became the first elected official in the country to back the real estate mogul after McMaster’s original choice Lindsey Graham dropped out.
“He said, ‘We need strong borders. We have to stop crime. We want lower taxes. We love our military. We love our vets and we love our 2nd Amendment,” Trump said of his conversation with McMaster.
“To keep the momentum going, we need more Republicans in Washington,” he said. “And we need Henry.”
Early on in his speech, the President joked about the defeat of Congressman Mark Sanford in the Republican Primary by South Carolina Representative Katie Arrington.
“Never liked him too much,” he said. “I wasn’t a big fan. The Tallahassee Trail. Must be a beautiful place. Unfortunately, he didn’t go there.”
President Trump also told the story of how he was traveling home from North Korea after the peace talks on the day of the South Carolina Primary, lost track of time and nearly forgot to tweet in favor of Arrington.
In several slams against the media, Trump said if McMaster doesn’t win, he knows how the story will be spun: “If a horrible thing happened and we weren’t lucky enough to have Henry win, you know they won’t talk about that. They’ll say ‘Donald Trump suffered a major, major defeat in the great state of South Carolina. It was a humiliating defeat for Donald Trump.'”
The President said his request to the media is simple.
“We just want honesty. We want a little fairness. A little fairness, right? We don’t get very much of it.”
He also said the Democratic Party has become one of resistance.
“This has become the party of Maxine Waters and Nancy Pelosi, that’s who it is,” he said. “So they don’t mind crime. They want open borders.”
He also praised his supporters for their loyalty.
“Everybody here makes money. Works hard. Pays taxes. Does a great job. You’re smarter. You’re better. You’re more loyal. We have the greatest base in the history of politics, we do. . .The forgotten men and women of our country are forgotten no more. They’re still trying to figure out who the hell were all these people that came and voted two years ago. Who are they? Who are they? All of us. They’re trying to figure out how to get to the forgotten men and women and I said, ‘I think you lost them for a long time.'”