Posted: 11:53 pm Wednesday, February 17th, 2016
By Jamie Dupree
From Sumter, South Carolina –
Donald Trump barnstormed his way around the Palmetto State again on Wednesday, urging voters to turn out in big numbers for Saturday’s primary while throwing more elbows at Ted Cruz and other Republicans in the GOP race.
“We have a little surprise in store here in South Carolina,” Trump said to cheers at a rally in Walterboro.
The polls certainly have been in Trump’s favor here in South Carolina, in a way that reminds some of how they held strongly for the GOP leader in New Hampshire as well.
Trump on Wednesday again used his various stops to lob verbal grenades at Ted Cruz, as the two Republicans once more spent the day locked in a bitter series of exchanges.
“He lies, I never saw a man lie like this,” Trump said of Cruz.
“He’s been screaming liar, liar, liar,” Cruz said at a news conference earlier in the day, as he mocked Trump’s official notice from his lawyers that threatened a lawsuit over an ad being run by Cruz.
Trump wasn’t losing any sleep over Cruz’s retorts.
“He tells fibs, he tells lies,” Trump said.
As for Saturday’s primary, Trump pressed those at each of his rallies to act like a victory is not assured.
“You have to assume we are tied,” Trump said, “because on Saturday you have to get out and vote.”
While Trump was talking inside, hundreds were turned away outside the Sumter arena when the fire marshal determined no one else – including this reporter – could get in.
Outside, some like James Bond of Sumter were unable to see Trump in the flesh; Bond said he likes Trump’s vow to shake things up in Washington, D.C.
“I’m just tired of the Republican establishment; it’s time to get rid of the old government and get some new people in there,” Bond told me.
Others who didn’t get in included a number of people who were not voting for Trump – they just wanted to see him in person.
“I wanted to see what the crowd was like,” said A.J. Heath of Sumter, who remains undecided, likely to vote for either Cruz or Marco Rubio.
Heath’s wife, Susan, was a bit more blunt about Trump.
“I think the country has gone mad, I think the country is on the verge of a huge disaster,” she added, saying she “definitely” would not be voting for Trump.
The Heaths aren’t that unusual, as at every Trump event I have been to in a number of states, there are always people there who want to see him – but they are not Trump voters.
And there were others outside who were still shopping for a candidate as well.
“I’m still trying to make my mind up,” said Ashley Artiss of Sumter, who is between Trump and Ben Carson. “I don’t know which way I’m going.”
Inside, Trump was reminding the crowd to get out and vote for him on Saturday.
“We have a really good chance to win,” Trump said with a smile.
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.