Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump continues to lead in GOP polls. The business mogul also got the most time during the Fox News debate last week.
“The appeal is pretty clear – people are tired of politics as usual and want somebody who’s going to tell it to them straight,” said state Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Berkeley, Trump’s S.C. campaign director.
Many have scrutinized Trump, for his antics and statements. But Merrill defends Trump’s actions during the campaign, including giving out the cellphone number of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca.
“In each and every instance, other people have attacked Mr. Trump first,” Merrill said. “He’s not a withering violet. He’s going to hit you right back in the nose if you come at him.”
The rise of The Donald
Whatever Trump is selling, it’s going over increasingly well in the Palmetto State.
In March, Trump barely registered in a Winthrop Poll of GOP candidates, coming in 10th at 2 percent, leading only Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. By June, Trump was at 10 percent, trailing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, in first, and retired surgeon Ben Carson and Graham, tied for second.
Then, Trump’s S.C. numbers exploded – to 34 percent in June, leading Bush by 23 percentage points, and to 31 percent in August, leading Bush by 17 points.
(Jindal? He’s still at 1 percent.)
Trump will be back in Greenville Aug. 27 for the Upstate Chamber Coalition’s presidential series from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at TD Convention Center.
Trump continued to generate lots of talk over the weekend, with his caustic comments about Fox News’ Megyn Kelly. He’s scheduled to return to South Carolina later this month, attending the Upstate Chamber Coalition’s presidential series from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 27 at TD Convention Center.
Is that hair in the country legally, sir?
While his opponents probably wish they could use long knives, some may want to go after Trump with nothing more than a pair of shears.
State Rep. Grady Brown, D-Lee, a barber for nearly half a century, told The Buzz last week that The Donald should get rid of his bouffant look.
“It’s just so fluffy and so blown up,” said Brown.
It’s just so fluffy and so blown up.
State Rep. Grady Brown, D-Lee
Brown never has seen Trump’s hair close up, but he has had past input on presidential hairdos.
When former President Bill Clinton paid $200 in 1993 for a haircut while sitting aboard Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport, Brown wrote him a letter, saying he would be happy to cut his hair for free. (Clinton’s office thanked Brown for his letter and interest, the state representative said.)
Trump’s hair – the subject of scrutiny for years; is it real? a combover? – is a non-factor in the presidential race, said Brown, the S.C. House’s longest-serving member.
Trump isn’t winning over voters with his locks but with his frankness, Brown said.
“He tells it like it is,” Brown said last week, while clipping a customer’s hair. (The customer chimed in to agree: Trump is telling millions of Americans exactly what they want to hear, he said.)
Even though he is a Democrat, Brown said could vote for a Republican in 2016, but not Trump. Brown said he would vote for U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham if the Seneca long shot wins the GOP nomination. Graham would be South Carolina’s favorite-son candidate, Brown said.
Upshot for the underdog
Despite polling so low in his presidential bid that he was left out of the varsity version of Thursday’s Fox debates, Graham is getting some attention.
After Graham spent his limited air time at Thursday’s JV debate attacking Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, her S.C. state director Clay Middleton hit back, saying state residents "know all too well (Graham's) out-of-touch agenda has left hardworking middle-class families behind. While Lindsey Graham and the rest of the GOP field push out-of-date policies, Hillary Clinton is sharing her vision to boost middle-class incomes, fight against systemic racial inequities, and invest in job training and quality education for hardworking South Carolinians."
(Cheer up, Lindsey. At least Hillary’s camp acknowledged you exist.)
2016 in S.C.
▪ Carly Fiorina: The former Hewlett Packard executive will be at Tommy’s Ham House in Greenville at 1 p.m. Sunday .
▪ Lindsey Graham: The U.S. senator will hold a “No Nukes for Iran” town hall meeting Monday at 2 p.m. at the Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Greenville.
▪ Rick Perry: The former Texas governor will stop Thursday at Fatz Cafe in Greenwood at 11 a.m. for lunch with veterans before holding a town hall meeting with the Anderson County Republican Party at 6:30 p.m. at Anderson Christian School. Perry will attend a 4 p.m. meet-and-greet Friday at the Beacon in Spartanburg.
▪ Scott Walker: The Wisconsin governor will stop at 11:30 a.m. Sunday at Wade’s Restaurant in Spartanburg for lunch before attending a 1 p.m. meet-and-greet in Gaffney at the Fatz Cafe at the Peachoid. Walker also will hold a meet-and-greet at the American Legion Frank Roach Post 34 at 4:15 p.m. in Rock Hill.
Staff writer Jamie Self contributed