Trump rips Democrats in New Hampshire, heads to South Carolina in campaign kickoff

COLUMBIA, South Carolina, Jan 28 (Reuters) – Former U.S. President Donald Trump defeated “radical Democrats” and brushed aside concerns about momentum on Saturday in the first two stops of a presidential campaign that has faltered since he sent it in November.

Speaking to a small crowd at the New Hampshire Republican Party’s annual meeting in Salem, ahead of a planned stop in South Carolina, Trump insisted he was motivated to win as he made his third bid for the White House.

“I’m angrier now and I’m more committed now than I’ve ever been,” Trump said.

He is scheduled to travel to Columbia, South Carolina, later Saturday, where he will unveil his leadership team in the state. Trump said in New Hampshire that Stephen Stepanek, chairman of the state Republican Party, would join his campaign as a senior adviser.

New Hampshire and South Carolina are seen as potential winners, as they are among the first to hold their nominating contests. How a candidate performs there often makes or breaks their campaign.

Political observers in both the Republican and Democratic parties will be watching closely to see who shows up to support Trump at the events.

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Two of Trump’s allies in South Carolina – Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Russell Fry – are calling Republicans and urging them to attend, their offices told Reuters.

Once the undisputed center of gravity in the Republican Party, a growing number of elected officials have expressed concern about Trump’s ability to beat Democratic President Joe Biden, if he decides to run again, as he is expected to. widespread.

Rob Godfrey, a Colombia-based political strategist, said many Republicans are holding back on endorsing Trump because of the wide range of potential candidates who could be running for the party’s nomination.

“I think a fair number of people are keeping their powder dry because the bench is so deep for Republicans this year,” he said.

In New Hampshire, Republican Governor Chris Sununu has said he is talking about a primary bid, and many high-ranking Republicans there – including those who have supported Trump in the past – have said publicly that they are seek an alternative.

In Salem, Trump railed against illegal immigration at the US-Mexico border – a common theme – claiming without evidence that other countries were deliberately sending criminals and the mentally ill to the United States.

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The former president also focused on newer policy proposals, including an education plan released Thursday that promises to cut federal funding to “any school pushing critical race theory, gender ideology, or any other inappropriate content .”

The plan is similar to a law passed in Florida last year with the support of Governor Ron DeSantis, Trump’s potential challenger for the Republican presidential nomination.

In South Carolina, where Trump will appear alongside Graham and Governor Henry McMaster, there will be some notable absences.

Among those not present are the state party chairman, at least three Republican United States representatives from the state and US Senator from South Carolina Tim Scott, who himself attended as a Republican presidential candidate. Scott and others have cited scheduling conflicts.

Several Republican state lawmakers decided not to attend after failing to get assurances from Trump’s team that it would not be considered an endorsement, according to a person with knowledge of the planning.

To be sure, Trump has a significant base of support, especially among the public. Although he loses in some head-to-head polls against DeSantis, he wins by significant margins when poll respondents are presented with a wider range of options.

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Since launching his campaign in November, Trump has kept a relatively low profile. He asked several conservative Republicans in the US House of Representatives in early January to convince them to vote for Kevin McCarthy, an ally, for the new Speaker.

Most of them defeated his efforts, although McCarthy was elected to the position after a brutal battle.

Reporting by Gram Slattery in Columbia, South Carolina and Ted Hesson in Washington; Editing by Ross Colvin and Daniel Wallis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Gram Slattery

Thomson Reuters

Washington-based correspondent covering campaigns and Congress. Previously posted in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Santiago, Chile, he has extensive reporting throughout Latin America. Co-winner of the 2021 Reuters Journalist of the Year Award in the business coverage category for a series on corruption and fraud in the oil industry. He was born in Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard College.


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