Trump rallies supporters ahead of South Carolina primary

The former president told supporters on Wednesday he would create “peace through strength,” if elected again.

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (CN) — Donald Trump whipped up support at a rally Wednesday night as he aims for another dominant win in the Republican presidential primaries.

Supporters crowded into a convention center in the third-largest city in South Carolina, where early voting is already underway in advance of a Feb. 24 primary date.

Polling averages showed Trump leading Nikki Haley, the state’s former governor and his last remaining rival, by more than 30 percentage points in the deep-red state. The former president enjoys the support of several top elected officials, including Governor Henry McMaster, Senator Tim Scott and U.S. Representative Nancy Mace, all of whom spoke at the event.

“Let’s make sure, on Valentine’s Day, we share our love for Donald J. Trump,” Scott told the crowd.

Haley spent the week campaigning across the state as she seeks to woo the conservative voters who fueled Trump’s victories in the first national primary contests. Her campaign has spent $6 million on advertising in South Carolina, including on an ad released Tuesday that accuses Trump of promoting Russia’s interests in Ukraine.

“With a world on fire and a crisis at home, with Trump, it’s only more chaos,” a narrator says.

Trump told supporters Wednesday his administration would create “peace through strength,” while claiming Russian leader Vladimir Putin was “not a fan of mine.”

He accused Haley of encouraging Democrats to vote in the state’s open primary, but predicted the contest would be over “very quickly.”

“I think a lot of people will wonder — What the hell is she wasting her time for?” he said.

He accused President Joe Biden of “weaponizing” federal law enforcement agencies as an explanation for the avalanche of indictments filed against him after leaving office, including allegations he conspired to undermine the 2020 election and hoarded classified documents at his Florida results.

“It’s him and his corrupt Department of Justice,” Trump said.

Trump blamed the president for high interest rates and rising credit card debt. Members of the crowd chanted his name as he decried migrants who illegally crossed the border and urged him to continue speaking as he concluded his remarks.

“This is a lively group,” he said. “I think Nikki’s in trouble.”

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