Trump to be joined by South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, Henry McMaster, at his first 2024 campaign event

Former President Trump’s campaign announced Tuesday that the former president will head to South Carolina Saturday, Jan. 28, to hold the first public campaign for his recently launched 2024 White House run.

Trump’s campaign highlighted that the former president will be joined by the crucial early voting state’s Republican Gov. Henry McMaster and senior Sen. Lindsey Graham as he unveils his South Carolina leadership team in an event at the state capitol building in Columbia.

Trump’s campaign last week confirmed to Fox News the event in South Carolina, which holds the third contest in the GOP’s presidential nominating calendar, but hadn’t provided specific details.

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Former resident Donald Trump announces at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., Nov. 15, 2022, that he is formally entering the 2024 presidential race. 

Former resident Donald Trump announces at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., Nov. 15, 2022, that he is formally entering the 2024 presidential race.  (Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The event will mark a more public phase of Trump’s bid to regain the White House and his first campaign-style event since declaring his candidacy with a speech in mid-November at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. Additionally, it comes as the former president has faced criticism over his campaign launch and controversial comments and actions the past two months.

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A rival and vocal critic of Trump during the 2016 Republican nomination race, Graham quickly became one of the former president’s closest allies in the Senate. While he hasn’t officially endorsed Trump for the 2024 nomination, he’s said the former president “will be hard to beat” in the primary race.

McMaster, who was one of Trump’s earliest backers in 2016, has long been a major supporter of the former president.

President Trump, left, smiles as he stands alongside Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina during a Trump campaign rally at the North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, S.C., Feb. 28, 2020. 

President Trump, left, smiles as he stands alongside Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina during a Trump campaign rally at the North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, S.C., Feb. 28, 2020.  (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Trump’s trip to South Carolina comes as two of the state’s leading Republicans are mulling White House runs of their own.

Former two-term Gov. Nikki Haley, who served as ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration, has said she’s considering a presidential campaign. And she’s made numerous visits to Iowa and New Hampshire, the two states that kick off the GOP nominating calendar.

So has Sen. Tim Scott, a rising star in the party and the only Black Republican in the Senate whom pundits view as another potential Republican presidential contender.

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Senior Trump campaign adviser Chris LaCavitia told Fox News last week, “The campaign’s been very deliberate and methodical building out an operation that can sustain a long-term effort and also being mindful of the fact that it is a long-term effort. 

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., questions Chris Magnus as Magnus appears before a Senate Finance Committee hearing on his nomination to be the next U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Oct. 19, 2021.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., questions Chris Magnus as Magnus appears before a Senate Finance Committee hearing on his nomination to be the next U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Oct. 19, 2021. (Rod Lamkey/Pool via REUTERS)

“The campaign is not about making news every single day. It’s about getting the job done and putting the campaign in the best position to succeed.”

Part of getting that job done is expanding the operation, both nationally and in the early voting presidential nominating states.

A source in the Trump campaign told Fox News “early voting state teams are being built out, and leadership teams are being built out.”

Additionally, a Republican in New Hampshire who is part of Trump’s wider orbit told Fox News the campaign’s “starting to put the machine together. … It’s ramping up and decision-making time.”

Steven Cheung, a veteran of the 2016 and 2020 Trump campaigns who is serving as spokesman of the 2024 campaign, emphasized that “the focus of what we’ve been doing is to build out an operation that’s second to none and a lot of that isn’t necessarily public facing, but it’s what’s required.”

Former President Trump and former first lady Melania Trump arrive for a New Year's event at his Mar-a-Lago home Dec. 31, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla.  

Former President Trump and former first lady Melania Trump arrive for a New Year’s event at his Mar-a-Lago home Dec. 31, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla.   (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

In recent weeks, the Trump campaign has also launched a series of policy initiatives and statements through video rollouts.

“The campaign is putting out substantive policy from the president in a video format. That’s not been done on this level before,” LaCavita said.

And two weeks ago, the campaign launched its official website, although it came with little fanfare.

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More than two years after his 2020 election defeat at the hands of President Biden, Trump remains the most influential politician and ferocious fundraiser in the Republican Party. Until recently, he was the clear and overwhelming front-runner in the early 2024 GOP presidential nomination polls. 

However, his latest campaign launch was considered anything but spectacular. Trump’s candidacy kickoff event was criticized not only by Democrats, but also by fellow Republicans. Some in Trump’s political orbit told Fox News the early announcement was intended in part to clear the field of potential rivals and help the former president avoid a growing net of legal entanglements. But it appears to have failed on both accounts.

Rapper Kanye West, left, shakes hands with President Trump during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C, Oct. 11, 2018. 

Rapper Kanye West, left, shakes hands with President Trump during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C, Oct. 11, 2018.  (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Trump also appears to be the victim of self-inflicted wounds from his heavily criticized dinner at Mar-a-Lago over the Thanksgiving holiday with the rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, and White nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes, to a widely panned social media post that appeared to suggest the “termination” of the U.S. Constitution.

He also had a profitable but mocked rollout of digital trading cards portraying Trump as a superhero, and his controversial abortion comments earlier this month received pushback from some social conservatives in the party’s base.

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Trump has also faced plenty of incoming fire over the midterm election losses of GOP nominees handpicked and supported by the former president, which was a contributing factor to the lackluster results for Republicans in November in what many had hoped would be a red wave year.

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