South Carolina’s GOP-dominated congressional delegation has kept a low profile on the election front since Donald Trump became the de-facto Republican nominee for president Wednesday.
Among the D.C. representatives of a deeply Republican state that handed the billionaire businessman a resounding primary win in February, there has been no acknowledgment on social media that their party has decided, for all intents, on a presidential candidate, no statements of support.
When pushed, the GOP congressmen give tepid answers in unison.
The offices of U.S. Reps. Trey Gowdy, the Spartanburg Republican who had endorsed U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, and Jeff Duncan, the Laurens Republican who had endorsed U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, said they would “support the Republican nominee.” Neither named Trump.
Gov. Nikki Haley said the same thing Wednesday, adding she is “not interested” in being considered for the vice president’s slot. She didn’t name Trump either.
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott’s campaign spokeswoman, Margaret Spaulding, issued a statement on the North Charleston Republican’s behalf, saying, “As (Scott) has consistently said over the past year, he will support the Republican nominee.”
She added, “Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee, the senator will do what he can to assist his campaign; however, his focus will remain on his own re-election and serving the people of South Carolina.”
Just a few hours before Cruz suspended his campaign Tuesday, taking with it any hopes of stopping Trump’s nomination, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, was tweeting that Trump was “completely unhinged.”
“If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed and we will deserve it,” he tweeted.
Cruz dropped his presidential bid after a devastating loss to Trump in Indiana’s GOP primary. A day later, Ohio Gov. John Kasich followed, leaving Trump the only remaining candidate from a original field of 17.
Graham, a famously vocal Trump critic, uncharacteristically has kept quiet since Trump’s nomination became all but inevitable Wednesday, only praising Cruz and Kasich for “offering an alternative to Donald Trump.”
Their colleagues face similar dilemmas. Only one senator, Alabama’s Jeff Sessions, and 16 GOP congressmen had endorsed Trump by Thursday afternoon.
Speaking to CNN, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., declined to support the presumptive nominee. “I’m not there right now.”
So far, no members of the S.C. delegation in D.C. have plans to attend July’s Republican national convention in Cleveland. Haley’s office said the governor would make a decision in June.
“The governor is focused on finishing the legislative session strong – and once it’s over, she'll make a decision on the convention,” said press secretary Chaney Adams.