With the much-anticipated South Carolina primary only about three weeks away, former President Donald Trump’s surrogates are turning up the heat against his opponent, Nikki Haley, who used to be the state’s governor.
A pair of Republican congress members joined two state lawmakers on the steps of the Horry County Court House in Conway, S.C., for a news conference on Feb. 1. They highlighted reasons they support President Trump and contrasted him with both Ms. Haley and Democrat President Joe Biden.
The former president is leading Ms. Haley in South Carolina by about 27 points in the RealClearPolitics average of opinion polls; he leads her by double that margin, 54 percent, in the national average.
President Trump’s allies described Ms. Haley’s “weakness” on China and other reasons they believe support for her appears to be lagging in her home state.
“She rolled out the red carpet for communist China,” Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) stated, criticizing Ms. Haley’s role in wooing Chinese businesses to South Carolina with attractive incentives.
Ms. Mace also said the former governor made remarks that didn’t sit well with South Carolinians.
“She said, as governor, that Chinese workers could teach a thing or two to South Carolina workers,” Ms. Mace said.
“We don’t need communist China teaching us anything about work ethic or honor,” Ms. Mace said, noting China is ruled “by a murderous dictator.”
The Haley campaign did not respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment on Feb. 1.
But her campaign website includes a section entitled “Getting Tough on China.” It asserts that she “regularly slams China for committing genocide...[and] called for bringing manufacturing back to America from China.”
Ms. Haley’s recruitment of Chinese businesses during her governorship has been a recurring theme throughout the 2024 Republican presidential nomination contest.
During the Trump allies’ news conference that WPDE-TV videotaped, Rep. Russell Fry (R-S.C.) said it bothered him that “a year ago, almost to the day, a Chinese spy balloon was shot down over my hometown of Surfside Beach,“ in South Carolina. ”We watched our hometown become a national spectacle.”
The Biden administration was roundly criticized for allowing the balloon to travel cross-country for several days, possibly collecting large amounts of strategic data before the U.S. military intervened and shot it down.
Mr. Fry said: “We still don’t know from this administration what they were doing, why they were here, the things that they used in the spy balloon.”
“We already have one administration who has been soft on China, and we don’t need another one. Nikki Haley thinks that China is a great friend,'” he said. Ms. Haley called China “a friend” in a letter she wrote to a Chinese ambassador in 2014, the Trump campaign said, providing a screenshot of the letter.
In contrast, Mr. Fry said that President Trump was “the first person to call out China for what they are.” He imposed tariffs and “fought for the American worker,” Mr. Fry said.
“There’s a reason why Donald Trump has over 100 endorsements in South Carolina compared to 14 for the former governor. People want somebody who means what they say, says what they mean, and does the work. And that is Donald Trump.”
Primary on Feb. 24
South Carolina Rep. Thomas Duval “Val” Guest declared: “All people that worked with Governor Haley...when she was the governor, they’re not backing her, and there’s a reason for that. She’s more worried about Nikki than she is the U.S.”
When South Carolina holds its primary on Feb. 24, “the country’s going to not only see that we back Donald Trump, but we don’t back our former governor,” Mr. Guest said. “And that’s important. We were gonna send that message so everybody will follow our lead, as they should.”
As Mr. Guest concluded his remarks, a crowd of people behind him chanted: “Never Nikki!”
Mr. Fry pointed out that President Trump has already won big victories in early presidential preference elections in Iowa and New Hampshire. “The result will be the same in South Carolina,” he predicted. “Donald Trump will have a colossal victory.”
“So let’s wrap this up with a nice little bow; let’s nominate Donald Trump in South Carolina,” Mr. Fry said, “and let’s send him back to the White House in 2024 to finish the job.”
Earlier on Feb. 1, another group of Trump allies held a news conference and assailed Ms. Haley’s immigration stance.
The Trump campaign announced two additional South Carolina news conferences will be held Feb. 2.
At 10: 30 a.m. Eastern, Ms. Mace is scheduled to speak in Mount Pleasant about Ms. Haley’s “history of raising taxes.”
At 4 p.m. Eastern in Greenville, four Trump allies will discuss Ms. Haley’s “ties to globalists, Democrats and Wall Street donors.” U.S. Rep. William Timmons, state Rep. Stewart Jones, former Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, and Greenville County Councilman Benton Blount will stump for President Trump.
Meanwhile, Ms. Haley is continuing her campaigning across the Palmetto State.
On Feb. 1, supporters of Ms. Haley packed a restaurant in Hilton Head, S.C., to hear her speak while supporters of President Trump protested in the parking lot.
Some of Ms. Haley’s supporters told an Epoch Times reporter that, if President Trump becomes the Republican nominee instead of Ms. Haley, they would cast their ballots for President Biden instead.Nathan Worcester contributed to this report.