President Trump took the stage to rally supporters in North Charleston on Friday evening and accused his Democratic critics of “politicizing” the coronavirus virus, a day before Democrats head to the polls in South Carolina to vote for their nominee to face him in November.
Speaking at the North Charleston Coliseum, Trump began his rally by ripping into the media: “All I can say is that the fake news just doesn’t get it, do they?” He then dismissed the other party’s criticism of his administration’s handling of coronavirus, bashing them the party for its problems counting votes in Iowa’s caucuses.
“Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus,” Trump said, adding: “They can’t even count their votes.”
As he left the White House on Friday afternoon, the president said of the Democratic contest: “It’ll be very interesting to see what happens tomorrow.” Trump then referenced the Super Tuesday contests on March 3, saying: “On Tuesday, you have a very big day.”
PAST SOUTH CAROLINA PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY WINNERS
While en route to South Carolina, Trump tweeted an announcement that he is nominating Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe to serve as Director of National Intelligence (DNI), months after the Republican lawmaker abruptly withdrew his name from consideration for the post.
Trump has held rallies in each of the four early voting states for the presidential nomination. He went to Nevada last week, even though Republicans had canceled their presidential caucus to show allegiance to the president. Likewise, South Carolina GOP officials opted not to hold a primary this year.
But that’s not stopping Trump, who has reveled in poking his challengers in the run-up to their contests.
“Some people say I’m trolling the Democrats and maybe I am,” Trump said at the White House.
Unlike the three earlier voting states, South Carolina is not considered a swing state. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by more than 14 percentage points there in 2016.
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Following Saturday’s contest, more than a dozen states vote in the Super Tuesday contests.
Trump arrived in South Carolina following a brutal week for the stock market. Stocks dropped another 357 points Friday, extending a rout that handed the market its worst week since October 2008, at the height of the financial crisis.
Analysts worry that the stock swoon could cause consumer spending to contract. Such spending makes up some 70 percent of the economy and has played a huge role in keeping the U.S. economic expansion going.
Trump has linked his presidency to the markets through tweets and speeches, often taking credit for each new high in the indices. Now, Trump is trying to reassure Americans that the economy is still strong while also theorizing that the Democratic candidates’ debate performances have spooked investors.
The coronavirus virus has infected more than 84,000 people globally and caused more than 2,800 deaths.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.