President Trump campaigns for Henry McMaster, makes dig at Sanford

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - President Donald Trump made a stop in South Carolina Monday night to campaign for current governor Henry McMaster, less than 24 hours before the polls open in the state's GOP primary runoff. 

Trump called McMaster a "fighter" and a "gentleman" as he asked voters to support McMaster in Tuesday's runoff. 

"So Henry was for me in the beginning," Trump said at a rally at Airport High School in Columbia."He's a fighter. He's tough, he's strong, and he's a gentleman." 

Trump said McMaster was one of a few elected  leaders who supported his 2016 presidential campaign from the beginning and noted others who eventually supported Trump after backing other candidates.  

"You know some of the guys said,'I supported Donald Trump very early.' Yeah, after seven other people," Trump said."After the defeat of nine people, they were with me and they never let me forget it." 

McMaster will face John Warren in the runoff election for the Republican nominee for governor. 

Trump opened the rally with prayers for Katie Arrington, the GOP Congressional candidate who was severely injured in an accident this past weekend in Charleston County.

"Katie is a very special person. She was out there from the very beginning," Trump said."And here's the good news, she's going to be one hundred percent. That's the good news. She's going to be one hundred percent."

On Monday, doctors at MUSC delivered a positive outlook for Arrington, and Jaqueline Goff who was driving a car which deputies say collided with another car whose driver was going the wrong way.  

"So Katie we're all pulling for you, and we're praying for your very swift recovery," Trump said."She's going to be back very soon."

Trump also mentioned Mark Sanford, who Arrington defeated a few weeks ago in the primary. 

"She was out there campaigning against a guy I've never liked too much," Trump said. 

The Associated Press reported that Trump worked in a verbal jab at Sanford at Capitol Hill following his defeat. 

On Monday night, Trump taunted Sanford again, making a reference to Sanford's 2009 affair where he flew to Argentina to see his lover while his staff unknowingly told reporters he was hiking on the Appalachian trail.

"Never liked him too much," Trump said."I wasn't a big fan. The Tallahassee trail, must be a beautiful place. Unfortunately he didn't go there." 

It took some time for Trump to get to Columbia, and that was all thanks to some severe storms in the area. 

Air Force One eventually landed at 7:45 p.m.

The plane circled over the Columbia Metropolitan Airport for more than an hour, according to White House Press pool reporter Steven Nelson.

The Election Eve Rally began at 6 p.m. at Airport High School. 

Hundreds of people had lined up Monday morning as early as 1 a.m. to see Trump.

Despite the long wait, the crowd was still lively. 

During a live report aired at 5 p.m., people attending the rally could be heard booing and jeering as CNN's Jim Acosta was going on the air on that network, yelling "Trump" and "fake news."

During his presidential campaign, McMaster was a fervent supporter of Trump while he was Lieutenant Governor

"Governor Henry McMaster is a truly fine man who loves the People of South Carolina," President Trump said in a tweet last Friday. "He was one of my very early supporters and truly helped me to a Big South Carolina Victory. I will see you all in S.C on Monday and Vice President Pence will be there for Henry on Saturday!"

President Trump has visited South Carolina once to endorse McMaster after he announced his bid for the office. McMaster became governor when former Governor Nikki Haley became the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. 

McMaster is running against Greenville businessman John Warren in the runoff on Tuesday, the winner of which will face Democrat James Smith for governor in the November general election. 

Warren spoke Saturday before Vice President Mike Pence held a rally at Coastal Carolina University. He used the opportunity to offer a contrast between himself and McMaster, who he referred to as a “pay-to-play politician.”

“Henry would like this election to be about anything other than his record of failed leadership and lost elections,” Warren said.

Copyright 2018 WCSC. All rights reserved. Information from Raycom Affiliates WMBF and WIS was used in this report. 

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