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Election 2016: Local support for Trump tops state numbers

By Charles Swenson and Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Donald Trump and Marco Rubio polled better on the Waccamaw Neck, where they made last-minute campaign stops, than in South Carolina as a whole in Saturday’s Republican presidential primary.

Trump won the state with 32.5 percent of the vote. He got 40.5 percent of the vote in the nine Waccamaw Neck precincts, including over half the vote in Murrells Inlet 3, the area’s smallest precinct.

Rubio, a senator from Florida, got 22.5 percent of the state vote, finishing second in the field of six candidates. He got 25.7 percent of the vote on Waccamaw Neck. Rubio’s best local showing was 27.8 percent of the vote in Pawleys Island 1.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was a close third in the state, but finished over 10 percentage points behind Rubio in Georgetown County.

Bill Stroupe said he was torn between Cruz and Rubio. He was looking for the best candidate to beat Trump for the nomination. “Trump stirred it all up. He’s not too statesmanlike,” he said.

He picked Cruz when he stepped up to the voting machine at Pawleys Island 2. “It’s time we got serious,” Stroupe said. “I’m so tired of voting for the least objectionable candidate.”

Stroupe is 82. Asked when he last felt inspired to vote for a candidate he had to give it some thought. He decided on Eisenhower. “I was in the service and he promised us a raise,” Stroupe said.

At Pawleys Island 1, Larry Hubbard had made up his mind. “Trump all the way,” he said. “I thought he should have run four years ago.”

Hubbard said he could accept Cruz as the nominee. “The others aren’t conservative,” he said.

Although Hubbard agreed with Trump’s criticism of President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq, he didn’t go along with the call to boycott Apple computers over the company’s refusal to unlock the iPhone of one of the shooters who killed 14 people in California in December.

Thomas Green was a Trump supporter during much of the campaign, but changed his mind before voting at the Waccamaw Library on Saturday. He picked Cruz instead.

“I like them both,” he said. “Trump’s too much of a bully.”

Traci Green said she was “on the fence for a while” before settling on Cruz about a week before her husband.

A couple from North Litchfield who didn’t want to give their names said they voted for Rubio. They went to his campaign rally the night before at Lowcountry Prep. “It confirmed a lot of things we were hearing,” the husband said.

At Pawleys Island 5, Kristin Bohan was voting with her children Nolan and Gabrielle and their friend Abigail Alford. Nolan favored Ohio Gov. John Kasich for running a positive campaign, but then switched to Cruz because “I met him.” Gabrielle thought Rubio had the best chance of beating Hilary Clinton. Abigail picked Trump.

But Bohan was the one with her finger on the ballot. “I came in ready to vote for Marco Rubio,” she said. She voted for Cruz instead. “He’s got a great grasp of the Constitution,” Bohan said. And she added, “he doesn’t mind being out there by himself.”

Trump campaigned on Friday at Pawleys Plantation, with 1,300 tickets issued for the 500 seats in the conference center.

“He talks the way Americans talk when they are sitting around the dinner table,” said Rick McLane, a resident of Pawleys Plantation who attended the rally. “Our political system is broken and has given way to crony capitalism.”

McLane said he recognizes Trump’s faults, but they don’t disqualify him from being president. “I wouldn’t cross the street to shake his hand,” he said, “but I’d vote for him. What we’ve got now isn’t working.”

Trump said his GOP rivals are backed by corporate executives who expect to be rewarded by the government.

He said the country could save $300 billion a year by negotiating drug prices.

He’d negotiate everything better, Trump said. Jobs would come back from Mexico once he slapped a 35 percent tax on new Fords and Carrier air conditioners being built there. No other Republican can call for a import tax and get applause. “They are saying I’m not a conservative,” Trump said. “I say I’m common sense.”

He promised to deliver a better military at a lower cost once he got rid of the political payouts. “We buy planes we don’t want because contractors have political connections,” he said.

Rubio cancelled a Friday morning campaign stop at Lowcountry Prep School because of airplane engine trouble. He promised to return at 10 p.m. There were 701 supporters in the gymnasium when he arrived with Gov. Nikki Haley and Sen. Tim Scott from Clemson. They campaigned together with U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy.

Overlooking the big crowd that had come out for Rubio, Georgetown County GOP chairman Randy Hollister said his supporters told him it was the least they could do if Rubio was willing to return so late at night. His remarks were met with steady applause.

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