Advisers to Donald Trump have blanketed South Carolina Republican officials with pleading phone calls in recent weeks in an effort to drum up endorsements and attendees for the former president’s first campaign swing of the 2024 cycle next week.
But 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.
They find themselves divided between their support for Trump, their desire for a competitive nomination fight in the state and their allegiance to two South Carolina natives, former governor Nikki Haley and Sen. Tim Scott, who have taken steps to challenge Trump for the nomination. Both are said by people close to them to be seriously considering a bid, and Haley is expected to announce in the coming weeks, South Carolina operatives said.
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) — that positions the former president as a serious contender but stops short of demonstrating the dominance that he once enjoyed. [Continue reading…]