Columbia, South Carolina:
Former US President Donald Trump joined the campaign for the first time on Saturday since announcing his bid to take back the White House by 2024, visiting two early voting states and dismissing criticism that His campaign got off to a slow start.
“I’m angrier now and I’m more committed now than ever,” Trump told a small crowd at the New Hampshire Republican Party annual meeting in Salem, before traveling to Columbia, South Carolina, to present. with his leadership team in the state.
In contrast to the mass rallies in front of thousands of worshipers that Trump often organizes, Saturday’s events were noticeably muted. In Columbia, Trump spoke to about 200 people in the state capitol building, with Governor Henry McMaster and US Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina walking beside him.
Once an undisputed focus in the Republican Party, a growing number of elected officials are expressing concern about Trump’s ability to defeat Democratic President Joe Biden, should he decide to run for re-election as many would expect. .
Many Republicans are considering whether to launch their own White House campaigns, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who many see as the biggest threat for Trump. Top Republicans in both states the former president visited – including New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley – were among those weighing their own bids.
There were a number of conspicuous absences in South Carolina, including the state’s party chair, five US Republican representatives from the state, and South Carolina US Senator Tim Scott, who has been considered a candidate. potential Republican president.
Trump tried to allay those concerns, telling the crowd he expected an additional wave of support from federal and South Carolina lawmakers in the next few days.
Several Republican state legislators decided not to attend after failing to receive assurances from Trump’s team that doing so would not be considered an endorsement, according to a person familiar with the plan. .
William Oden, the Republican chairman of Sumter County, South Carolina, said he is a fan of the former president, but remains open to his options.
“I haven’t decided yet,” Oden said. “We’re waiting until people come out. And like I do in business, I don’t make any choices until we’ve heard all the candidates.”
At both stops on Saturday, Trump repeated some of the themes that heated up his 2016 campaign, including his strong criticism of illegal immigration and China.
But he also emphasizes social issues, perhaps in response to DeSantis, whose relentless focus on the culture wars has helped build his national profile.
In Columbia, the former president denounced transgender rights and the critical teaching of racial theory, a once vague academic concept that sparked school board protests and class bans. study in several states.
“We’re going to stop the radical left-wing racists and perverts trying to indoctrinate our youth, and we’re going to get their Marxism out of the way,” Trump said. our children”.
“We will defeat the cult of gender ideology and reaffirm that God created two genders: male and female. We will not allow men to play women’s sports.”
Trump did not spend much time on his grievances about the 2020 election, though he alluded to his false claim that the election was stolen from his hands, calling the election is “ridiculous”.
Since the start of his campaign in November, Trump has maintained a relatively low profile. He phoned many conservative Republicans in the US House of Representatives in early January to convince them to vote for Kevin McCarthy, an ally, as the new speaker.
Most rejected his pleas, although McCarthy was elected to the position after a fierce battle.
Trump retains a sizable support base, especially at the grassroots level. Although he lost in several polls head-to-head with DeSantis, he won by a significant margin when poll respondents were given more options.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)
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