PENDLETON — Traffic was brought to a standstill and cars were parked as far as a mile away as Upstate South Carolinians turned up in droves to see presidential candidate Donald J. Trump speak at the T. Ed Garrison Livestock Arena on Wednesday night.
“What the hell kind of building is this?” Trump j0ked about his own venue after he took the stage in front of thousands of his cheering supporters in a building that displayed tractors, had a dirt floor and no heat.
Fresh off his victory in New Hampshire, the rally marked Trump’s first major push in the state to cement his lead before the South Carolina Republican primary on Feb. 20.
“So, I see what’s happening. It’s going to be such an unbelievable week and a half. I’m going to be with you almost all the time,” said Trump. “We’re going to have a lot of fun together. We have about nine days until the big event (the primary).”
Trump is currently the Republican front runner in South Carolina, polling comfortably ahead of Sen. Ted Cruz by a spread of more than 19 points.
Though he spoke for under an hour, Trump covered several hot button campaign issues including education, illegal immigration, strengthening the military and using missiles to “knock the hell out of them (Isis).”
Each point was met by thunderous applause and chants of “Trump! Trump! Trump!” from the audience.
“We all have heart, everyone in this room has heart. We want to take care of people, but we got to take care of our own people first,” he said. “We got to rebuild our country.
“Our infrastructure is falling apart, our roads are a disaster, our airports are like from third world countries. I go all over the world, I see airports … I never saw anything like it — and I’m a builder. I’m a really good builder,” Trump continued. “They have in China trains that are so modern, so fast, so incredible … We don’t have anything. We have trains that go ‘blah blah’ — they’re like from 150 years ago. We’re becoming a third world country.”
Although Former Gov. Jeb Bush has been trailing a distant fourth in South Carolina polls, he was poked at by Trump several times throughout the night.
“He’s a schlepper,” said Trump about Bush, using a Yiddish word meaning a stupid and awkward person. “(Bush) spent $38 to $39 million in New Hampshire, I spent three and a half. I’m number one, he’s at the bottom. He’s (Bush) a low energy person. I said, ‘He’s a stiff’ and I said that if he was in the private sector, he wouldn’t be able to get a job.’”
Following his rallies in Pendleton and Greenville, Trump was scheduled to make stops in Walterboro, Sumter and Myrtle Beach prior to the primary.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.