(L-R) Former US president Donald Trump joins South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster on the field during halftime in the Palmetto Bowl between Clemson and South Carolina at Williams Brice Stadium on November 25, 2023, in Columbia, South Carolina. — AFP Over the weekend, Donald Trump, the former US president attended the yearly rivalry football game in South Carolina while campaigning in the crucial early-nominating state for the 2024 Republican presidential primary.
He was spotted arriving at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina on Saturday night, upstaging Nikki Haley on her home pitch as the Clemson Tigers and South Carolina Gamecocks geared up for an intense face-off as part of the Palmetto Bowl.
Fans who gathered at the game chanted, “We want Trump! We want Trump!”, according to Politico.
The Palmetto Bowl is a highly anticipated annual matchup between the University of South Carolina and Clemson University, which Haley, former South Carolina governor and Clemson alumna, did not attend.
Governor Henry McMaster, Haley’s successor and a University of South Carolina alumnus previously said that Trump had a “standing invitation” to the game.
The entourage, which was also accompanied by South Carolina’s senior US Senator Lindsey Graham, made its way to a private suite through a tunnel of Trump supporters, showcasing local political force at the game.
Former US president Donald Trump waves to the crowd during halftime in the Palmetto Bowl between Clemson and South Carolina at Williams Brice Stadium on November 25, 2023, in Columbia, South Carolina. — AFP Trump watched the game from a box and went onto the field at halftime with McMaster. He later stood at the 50-yard line and waved to the crowd, which sent cheers and some boos towards the former president.
According to a CNN poll, Trump leads his primary rivals in South Carolina, with Haley as his strongest challenger but still a distant second.
South Carolina is one of the earliest contests on the Republican nominating calendar, following Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada.
Trump’s 2016 victory in South Carolina significantly influenced his nomination for the GOP presidential nomination. He has visited the state multiple times this year, including a campaign event in September, highlighting its significance in his campaign.
Trump has made multiple appearances at football games throughout his campaign cycle, including a September match between Iowa State University and the University of Iowa and a game in Ames, Iowa with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a GOP nominee, also in attendance.