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SC Lt. Gov.: Why I Backed Trump

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South Carolina Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster speaks before the State of the State in the House chambers at the South Carolina Statehouse Jan. 20, 2016, in Columbia, S.C. (Sean Rayford/AP)

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Thursday, 28 Jan 2016 11:07 AM Current | Bio | Archive

A few hours after he became the highest elected official in the nation to endorse Donald Trump for president, South Carolina’s Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster explained to Newsmax why he decided the controversial billionaire was the best in a Republican field “in which I know and have talked to just about every candidate.”

“Donald Trump tells the truth and he speaks in words everyone can understand,” McMaster told me on Wednesday night, shortly after he introduced Trump to an overflow rally in Lexington County. “There'll be more [major endorsements] before the [South Carolina] primary, believe me,” he said.

Speaking of the rally that had just ended, McMaster said that he felt an “enthusiasm that was electric among the crowd, which numbered from about 8 to 10,000. Cars were stopped from as far as a mile away and people got out to walk to the rally.”

In what has to be one of the most unique comparisons made to a political candidate — even Donald Trump — the Palmetto State’s second highest official likened Trump to “the Beatles, whom I saw in their next-to-the-last U.S. concert in Seattle in 1966.

"People young and old were at the ropes, asking for autographs on hats and posters and shouting ‘Donald, we love you.’ And he signed about as many [autographs] as he could. About the only thing different from the Beatles’ concert was I didn’t see women crying at the [Trump] rally.”

McMaster was initially a supporter of South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (“Lindsey’s like family to me”) for president.

When Graham dropped out of the race last month, McMaster recalled, the other candidates began contacting him. “And I like all of them,” he added, noting that Rick Santorum had campaigned for him in his winning race for lieutenant governor in 2014 and “I’ve known John Kasich for years.”

Through Trump’s top South Carolina strategist Ed McMullen, the lieutenant governor, and Trump met at a number of the developer-candidate’s trips to the Palmetto State. “I always liked the way he talked and what he said about ‘making America great again,’” said McMaster. 

“It really resonated with me. But I only made up my mind to back him in the last two days. I can tell you that [wife] Peggy decided Trump was her candidate a lot earlier.”

With son Henry, the McMasters met Wednesday with Trump on his plane at the airport Columbia and the lieutenant governor introduced him at the rally. “What he had to say moved the crowd,” said McMaster, particularly citing Trump’s calls for limiting immigration and standing up to China and Japan on trade.

“But it was him speaking of his strong confidence in people to rebuild the country that clearly moved the audience most.”

A former two-term state attorney general and state party chairman for nine years, stalwart conservative McMaster was a South Carolina leader in presidential campaigns from those of the late Rep. Jack Kemp, R-N.Y., in 1988 to John McCain in 2008.

Four years ago, he was a backer of Ambassador Jon Huntsman’s bid for the Republican nomination.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.




 

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A few hours after he became the highest elected official in the nation to endorse Donald Trump for president, South Carolina’s Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster explained why he decided the controversial billionaire was the best in a Republican field.
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2016-07-28
Thursday, 28 Jan 2016 11:07 AM
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