Former President Donald Trump will hold his first 2024 campaign event at the South Carolina State Capitol on Saturday.
Governor Henry McMaster, Senator Lindsey Graham and House Representatives Russell Fry and Joe Wilson were all in attendance.
So did a handful of state lawmakers, including Senate President Thomas Alexander (R-Oconee) and House Speaker Murrell Smith, the Sumter Republican who told reporters at the state Capitol Saturday that he would speak on behalf of the speaker. In attendance, the former president was welcomed, SC ETV’s Gavin Jackson tweeted, though he did not comment and his presence was not an endorsement.
Lawmakers in attendance also included nascent states Rep. Thomas Beach, R-Andersonhe told the nation he supported Trump for president.
“I’m sure we’ll have some really good candidates, iron grinds iron. But he’s done the job. I’m so proud of him. Can’t wait for him to come back to the White House,” he said.
Trump campaign events are held in the second-floor state capitol between the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Earlier Saturday, Trump spoke in another early-voting state, New Hampshire, where he touched on his campaign agenda, immigration and crime, The Associated Press reported. Trump is so far the only candidate to publicly announce his 2024 candidacy.
Trump remains under criminal investigation related to the discovery of documents marked as classified and is under state and federal scrutiny for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results after an early campaign battle with Holocaust denier white nationalist Nick Fuentes sparked controversy and anti-Semitic comments from rapper Kanye West when he had dinner with him.
A handful of other Republicans may join Trump in the presidential race.
At least two South Carolina Republicans, former Gov. Nikki Haley and Sen. Tim Scott, are among the 2024 presidential candidates. In recent weeks, Haley has been more aggressively teasing the campaign. Scott, who will win re-election to the Senate in 2022 in what he says will be his last term, will be in Washington for his own event on Saturday, McClatchyDC reported this week.
Pro-Trump supporters, some uninvited, lined up outside the state Capitol early Saturday for the event. However, not everyone who lined up was able to enter the event site.
The Sumter Street side of the state capitol — where most public spaces were cordoned off Saturday — was open. Only a handful of protesters were seen outside the state capitol, lining up on the sidewalk facing Gervais Street.
ETV South Carolina is live streaming Trump’s event, now scheduled to begin around 6 p.m.
This is a developing story. Check for updates.
Reporters Joseph Bustos, Javon Harris and The Associated Press contributed to this report.