Donald Trump Hit the Campaign Trail in South Carolina in Rock Star Fashion – Anyone who questioned whether former President Donald Trump could expect to see massive turnouts at his signature rallies had their answer this weekend.
Tens of thousands gathered in Pickens, South Carolina on Saturday and faced the sweltering heat, where temperatures climbed into the 90s, to see Trump as he held his first rally of 2024 in the early-primary state.
It was Trump’s second largest rally of the 2024 campaign, following a March event in Waco, Texas.
However, on Saturday it could be argued that it was far more than another mere rally – it was a spectacle that could be compared in size to a summer music festival with a crowd that was clearly all too eager to see the main act.
For locals, it may have also seemed like an invading force descended on their picturesque community. Just around 3,300 people live in the rural community, but it drew as many as 50,000 according to some reports – although the Secret Service put the numbers at closer to 15,000.
Vendors also set up days in advance, while local homeowners used the occasion to rent out $50 parking spaces on their front lawns.
Summer Heat Did Not Keep the Crowds Away from Donald Trump
Thousands stood for hours waiting for the rally – with some camping out overnight.
As the temperatures rose, dozens fell ill from the July heat. Politico.com compared the town’s Main Street to something that one might expect in a movie, and by all accounts the rally was something movie-like – perhaps even a bit on the scale of “Triumph of the Will,” had the propaganda film included brown-shirted vendors selling burgers, smoked sausages and sweet tea.
In addition, organizers handed out water, while efforts were made to ensure those suffering from the heat could cool down.
Trump spoke for nearly an hour and a half to a truly friendly audience. Nearly 75 percent of Pickens County voters selected Trump over current President Joe Biden in 2020, but it was also reported that supporters traveled from as far away as Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Indiana, and Florida to attend the rally.
And much like in Leni Riefenstahl’s epic patriotic film, Trump arrived not in a campaign bus but arrived in his branded plane. In “Triumph of the Will,” the arrival of the aircraft is greeted by thunderous applause, and a similar eruption of cheers welcomed the former president’s plane flying overhead.
No Love For Lindsey
However, even as the crowd was all in for Donald Trump, there wasn’t the same level of support for South Carolina’s Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who faced an onslaught of boos. Graham has not always stood by the former president but changed his tune as it appeared that Trump is the candidate to beat. Now, much like a summer music concert, the attendees were there for the headliner, and they weren’t about to show much support for this opening act – and Graham was treated much like a has-been who fails to connect with the audience.
“Let me tell you how you win an election, folks,” Graham told the crowd. “You get people together that don’t agree all of the time to agree on the most important things.”
Even as he faced boos from the audience, Graham stated, “My hope is we can bring this party together ’cause he’s gonna be our nominee. He will be the nominee of the Republican Party.”
Graham received cheers whenever he spoke directly about Trump, but returned to the jeers on all other topics. It was clear that they were there for the main act – and it is hard to play second fiddle to Trump.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.