With Donald Trump expected to finally leave Mar-a-Lago and kick off his 2024 presidential campaign next week, the Washington Post reports it might be a lonely affair as fellow Republican officeholders are begging off from attending in a key conservative state.
The former president will be making an appearance at the State House in Columbia, South Carolina -- a state that is home to two potential rivals for the GOP nomination: Sen. Tim Scott and former Gov. Nikki Haley.
That, in turn, has made key Republicans in the state balk at appearing over fears it will be viewed as an early endorsement among other reasons.
According to the report, advisors and close allies of Trump, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have been making frantic phone calls trying to round up key Republicans to stand with him as he speaks.
The report notes, "the appeals have run headlong into a complicated new reality: Many of the state’s lawmakers and political operatives, and even some of his previous supporters, are not ready to pick a presidential candidate," adding, "The result foretells a Trump launch event in the early primary state — with an expected endorsement by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and a reaffirmation of support from Gov. Henry McMaster (R-SC) — that positions the former president as a serious contender but stops short of demonstrating the dominance that he once enjoyed."
According to former South Carolina GOP chair Katon Dawson, "Nikki Haley is probably our first South Carolinian since we voted for George Washington that has really had a chance of being president of the United States. And I think the Trump folks are going to run into that history.”
The Post reports that an assortment of GOP officials and powerbrokers in South Carolina have already made it clear they won't be attending.
"State party chairman Drew McKissick will not be attending the Jan. 28 Trump event, because of the RNC meeting next week in California, and Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), a close ally of both Trump and Haley, has a prior commitment on Jan. 28 that he may not be able to break to attend the rally, according to their advisers. Hope Walker, executive director of the state party, recently turned down a job offer from the Trump campaign because she has decided to stay in her role for the cycle," the Post is reporting.
Asked to explain the indifference to the former president, Dave Wilson, president of Palmetto Family Council admitted, "A lot of people recognize the importance of the Trump presidency who are stepping back and are saying, ‘Is there another standard-bearer for the party and the issues we believe in?’ Someone who can carry us not just four more years, but eight more years and create momentum.”
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