Former President Donald Trump is on the campaign trail headed into what looks like a sure primary win for him in 2024 and reasonably good odds that he will be able to defeat Biden, with a college football crowd in South Carolina giving him a warm welcome and showing what many ordinary Americans think of the MAGA movement and its leader.
The game was this year’s rendition of the annual rivalry football game between the Clemson Tigers and the South Carolina Gamecocks, called the Palmetto Bowl. It took place in the Gamecocks’ Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. Trump’s warm welcome from the crowd came both as he waved from his box seat and when he walked out onto the field during half time.
Watch Trump walk onto the field as the audience roars with applause here:
Admittedly, there were some boos directed Trump’s way, though a clip in which they heard that was posted to X (formerly Twitter) purports to show that it was a small number of people, mainly in the Clemson marching band, that booed the former president and 2024 candidate. The loud cheering heard in both videos appears to show that the crowd’s reaction was mainly positive.
Joining former President Trump for the game and the crowd’s roaring applause were a bevy of South Carolina Republicans, including Gov. Henry McMaster, Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette, Treasurer Curt Loftis, U.S. Rep. Russell Fry, and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham.
This wasn’t the former president’s first visit to a college football game during the 2023 season. In fact, it wasn’t even his first visit to a game in an early primary state this year. That occurred in September, when Trump visited Ames, Iowa, for the annual Iowa-Iowa State game.
In addition to whipping up some support from early primary voters, the visit was an opportunity for Trump to needle former South Carolina Governor and fellow 2024 GOP hopeful Nikki Haley in her own backyard, particularly given the commanding lead Trump has over Haley in the state and her status as a Clemson alum. and trustee.
Despite her involvement with the school and need to pick up steam and build on her upward trajectory to close in on and then move past Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Haley did not appear at the Palmetto Bowl and try to garner the loud support of the crowd like Trump.
Her avoidance of the event makes sense given the warm welcome Trump received, both with his campaign flags being far from rare among tailgaters and the applause from the stadium’s crowd. Trevor Tiedman, president of the Clemson University College Republicans, said, “This is Trump country, and every one of these Republicans knows it. I think that a lot of [the other candidates] are actually scared to show their face today because they know when Trump walks in, the cheers are going to be for him, overwhelmingly.”
Democratic party spokeswoman Alyssa Bradley, on the other hand, said, “This Palmetto Bowl photo op reeks of desperation. For a candidate who keeps proclaiming the primary over, Donald Trump keeps campaigning like he might have something to lose. Here’s to hoping no one on the field fumbles as badly as Donald Trump is fumbling his campaign here in South Carolina.”
Featured image credit: screengrab from the embedded video
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