Running for president can often be a humiliating endeavor. As more and more voters, busy with their own lives for much of the year, begin to focus on the primaries, Republican candidates are learning that many of those they assumed were with them are, in fact, not.
Last week, for example, Nikki Haley was laughed at by a crowd in New Hampshire when she thought a little girl was wearing her campaign gear out of affection rather than having a campaign staffer plop a hat upon her head.
Now it’s former Donald Trump’s turn to experience a little taste of reality. In South Carolina, the former president was met with loud boos as he arrived at Williams-Brice Stadium for the Clemson versus South Carolina football game.
Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential primary, writes Newsweek, was in Columbia to watch the Palmetto Bowl college football game between the University of South Carolina’s Gamecocks and Clemson University’s Tigers.
The former president remains a popular figure in South Carolina, a state where he beat President Joe Biden by 12 points in 2020. South Carolina is a key early voting state, and Trump has maintained a commanding lead in polls over his GOP rivals, including former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.
Haley, a Clemson alumna and trustee who was twice elected the state’s governor, did not attend the annual rivalry football game, according to local media reports.
The former president was invited to watch the football game at the request of Governor Henry McMaster, who became Haley’s successor after Trump named her U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 2017.
— No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen (@NoLieWithBTC) November 26, 2023
As the former president made his way into Columbia for the game, traffic and tailgating were not be the only things he saw. He was also greeted with billboards attacking him.
“Seven electronic billboards around the Midlands are rotating an anti-Trump message: ‘You Lost. You’re Guilty. Welcome to Columbia, Donald.” The billboards go on to say they are “Sponsored by League of Radical Leftists Vermin – Jay Bender Instigator,” wrote The State.
An eighth billboard displayed the message in Charlotte.
“Bender is a veteran Columbia attorney who specializes in media law. He has represented The State Media Co., publisher of The State newspaper, and other South Carolina news organizations.
Bender told the outlet that when he learned Trump was coming to Columbia, “he thought someone needed to speak up, so he started mulling on ideas,” claiming that Trump is a threat to the livelihood and safety of individual Americans.
“In a normal, rational world, anyone that crazy would not be considered a serious candidate for public office,” he continued.
During the first half of the game, USA Today noted, “Trump waved and gave the thumbs-up to members of the crowd of more than 80,000 football fans.
In addition to McMaster, Trump sat with a group of prominent South Carolina lawmakers who included Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette, Republican U.S. Reps. Joe Wilson and Russell Fry, and Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham.”
“The night belongs to Trump,” Graham told the newspaper right before Trump made a halftime appearance.
Despite going up against a South Carolina native, Trump has maintained a strong lead in the Palmetto State. A recent CNN poll found Trump’s support in South Carolina to be at 53 percent, with 82 percent of his supporters saying they have made up their mind.