Trump Attends Big College Football Game On Haley’s Home Turf
COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA - NOVEMBER 25: (L-R) South Carolina governor Henry McMaster and former U.S. President Donald Trump make an appearance on the field at halftime during the game between the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Clemson Tigers at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 25, 2023 in Columbia, South Carolina.
Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump attended a hot-ticket college football game in South Carolina, an early-voting state home to GOP rival Nikki Haley, during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Joined by Palmetto State allies including Haley’s successor as South Carolina governor, Henry McMaster, Trump witnessed the Clemson Tigers take on the University of South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday at their Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia.

The Post and Courier, a South Carolina newspaper, reported that Trump fist-pumped and handed boxes of popcorn to fans as he made his way to a luxury box to watch the game. At halftime, he and McMaster walked onto the field and waved to a loud chorus of cheers and some boos.

Haley, a Clemson alumna and trustee, did not attend the game. But her Tigers did emerge victorious in a 16-7 win that earned them back the Palmetto Bowl trophy.

South Carolina’s Republican primary election is slated to take place on February 24, following the GOP caucuses in Iowa, primary in New Hampshire, and caucuses in Nevada and the Virgin Islands.

Trump has generally dominated Republican national and state polls, though Haley — who served as Trump’s U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during his first term — has gained momentum over the past several weeks.

In South Carolina, the RealClearPolitics average of polls spanning from mid-September to mid-November shows Trump with 49.3% support and Haley with 18.8% support. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis comes in third place with 10.5%.

Trump won South Carolina’s first-in-the-South primary in 2016, a victory which helped propel him toward the GOP nomination and resulted in former Florida Governor Jeb Bush dropping out of the race. During the 2020 and 2024 general elections, Trump handily defeated Hillary Clinton and then now-President Joe Biden in the state.


In the 2024 cycle, national Democrats are hedging their bets on South Carolina by selecting it as the first presidential nominating state on their calendar as part of a push for more diversity atop the early voting process.

The shakeup led to a scheduling clash with states that traditionally led the calendar, resulting in New Hampshire defying the Democratic National Committee by scheduling its Democratic primary for January 23 ahead of South Carolina’s Democratic primary set for February 3.

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