With time the Palmetto State has earned a reputation for bare-knuckled political attacks, both as part of its political culture and as a function of its place on the presidential primary calendar. The premiere of South primary is where some campaigns could make their last stands, hammering hard words to cheer up their followers as they do.
Already, a few of them hitting opponent hard with negative punch lines. Donald Trump’s campaign released a television ad depicting Ted Cruz as a “Washington insider,” before he stopped the ad Thursday. Cruz responded and has fired at Trump with ads of his own: one attacking the New York businessman’s support for eminent domain and another lampooning him (in action-figure form) as a faux conservative. Cruz’s camp also has concurrently hited Marco Rubio with a television spot imagining a therapy group for let-down former supporters of the Florida senator.
Rubio, for his part, began attacking Trump and Jeb Bush as a novice in foreign policy. “Donald Trump has zero foreign policy experience. Negotiating a hotel deal in another country is not foreign policy experience,” Rubio said at a town-hall gathering in Hilton Head, S.C. “Jeb Bush has no foreign policy experience, period.”
These themes will be seen before a live audience Saturday night, when the remaining Republican candidates debate in Greenville, S.C. Last weekend in Manchester, was a pretty bad for Rubio’s debate, as campaign stumbled into a downward spiral. Rubio is sure ready to bounce back in South Carolina.
Trump is a man to beat
The stakes are high in South Carolina and this will be a decisive contest on the path to the Republican nomination. The contest would either give an underdog another chance or increasing the momentum to a front-runner.
For now, Trump is the man every candidate wants to beat. He is topping the republican political chart with more than 16 points over Cruz, according to the latest RealClearPolitics polling average. This might likely be propelled by momentum from his dominant victory in the Granite State and his unwavering supporters voters who has has made him a nationwide phenomenon.
“People are furious, they are angry,” said Hogan Gidley, Mike Huckabee’s former spokesman who hails from South Carolina. “I think you’re going to see that anger play out here.”