Sunday, November 26, 2023
Former US president Donald Trump attended a rivalry football game in South Carolina on Saturday night as he campaigns in the key early-nominating state for the 2024 Republican presidential primary.
He arrived at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina, upstaging Nikki Haley on her home turf at the Clemson-South Carolina football game, as fans who gathered at the annual Palmetto Bowl chanted, “We want Trump! We want Trump!”, Politico reported.
The Palmetto Bowl is an annual matchup between the University of South Carolina and Clemson University, the two largest universities in the state which Haley, former South Carolina governor and Clemson alumna, did not attend.
Trump had received a "standing invitation" to the game by Governor Henry McMaster, Haley's successor and a University of South Carolina alumnus.
The entourage, including South Carolina's senior US Senator Lindsey Graham, made its way to a private suite through a tunnel of Trump supporters, showcasing local political force at the game.
Trump watched the game from a box and went onto the field at halftime with McMaster. He later stood at the 50-yard line and waved to the crowd, which sent cheers and some boos towards the former president.
According to a CNN poll, Trump leads his primary rivals in South Carolina, with Haley as his strongest challenger but still a distant second.
South Carolina is one of the earliest contests on the Republican nominating calendar, following Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada.
Trump's 2016 victory in South Carolina significantly influenced his nomination for the GOP presidential nomination. He has visited the state multiple times this year, including a campaign event in September, highlighting its significance in his campaign.
Trump has made multiple appearances at football games throughout his campaign cycle, including a September match between Iowa State University and the University of Iowa and a game in Ames, Iowa with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a GOP nominee, also in attendance.