Fmr. President Trump headlines annual SC GOP fundraiser in Columbia

Published: Aug. 5, 2023 at 5:54 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 6, 2023 at 5:05 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - Former President Donald Trump headlined an annual fundraiser for the South Carolina Republican Party in Columbia.

Just days after being indicted in federal court in Washington D.C., Donald Trump appeared at the Silver Elephant Gala at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds, Saturday.

“One of the most important issues of the campaign will be who can rescue our country from the burning wreckage of Bidenomics,” Trump said. “You know what that stands for right? Henceforth, it will be defined as inflation, taxation, submission and failure.”

The gala is the longest-standing Republican event in the state’s history. They celebrated their 56th year in 2023. Organizers said this year’s event was the largest in the state party’s history.

Trump pleaded not guilty on Thursday to four felony charges that accused him of trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

During his hour and a half speech, he continued to claim the 2020 election was rigged, but there’s no evidence of this happening. He also said of his recent indictments that they aren’t worth the paper they are printed on and called Special Counsel Jack Smith deranged.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and Republican National Committee co-chair Drew McKissick also attended.

Trump touted some of his accomplishments while president, such as helping fund a project that deepened the Charleston Harbor to 52 feet.

“We delivered $140 million to ensure that Charleston has the deepest water port on the east coast,” Trump said, “and to that I say, ‘Henry [McMaster], do you want to make it the deepest water port in the entire world?’ We’ll make it a little deeper Henry if you want.”

McKissick drew attention to South Carolina being the first southern state to hold its primary in February. He said it’s vital for any potential presidential hopeful.

“The candidates are going to want to come here and do well here to get that boost they need going into Super Tuesday, where you have to be in eight to 10 media markets all at one time. That gets prohibitively expensive,” McKissick said.

With South Carolina Republicans Tim Scott and Nikki Haley also vying for the presidential nomination, McKissick added that it could make more people turn out for the primary in the Palmetto State.

“At the end of the day, the main thing is it increases the attention people pay to South Carolina and how much we can raise off the process to beat the Democrats next year,” McKissick said.

Dorchester County Republican Chair Steven Wright said Trump’s visit highlights the state’s importance in the presidential race.

“South Carolina picks presidents,” Wright said. “If you look at the history of South Carolina, every single person that has won the White House since Ronald Reagan has won South Carolina during the nominating contest, so we are a state that prides ourselves. We are very deliberate in who we choose to support, and we look forward to hearing President Trump’s vision for the future tonight.”

From the national to local levels, Republicans said their main priority is a win in 2024.

“Republicans have an obligation to offer a positive forward-thinking vision, so Americans across our country can support us going forward,” Wright said. “We cannot afford four more years of Joe Biden.”

The gala was held weeks ahead of the Republican primary debate scheduled for Aug. 23. The Republican Presidential Primary election is scheduled for Feb. 24.