Donald J. Trump, the current front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, has declined to participate in one in a series of town halls run by South Carolina’s most popular politician, making the real estate mogul the only high-polling candidate to snub the state.
Because the Palmetto State is third in line to vote on the party’s nominee, because it’s first in the South, and because Sen. Tim Scott’s job approval is hovering in the heavens, his endorsement and support is as coveted as can be — making the Trump no-show all the more conspicuous.
Of the 17 GOP candidates, 15 have been scheduled to participate in Scott’s town hall series, the aim of which is to introduce each candidate individually to the state’s electorate.
“Tim reached out and extended an invitation to each candidate over the past few months,” said Scott’s campaign spokesman Joe McKeown. “Mr. Trump’s campaign has now replied that they cannot commit to participating in Tim’s Town Halls, and we will move forward in welcoming every other candidate to South Carolina.”
It’s unclear what Trump’s absence could do to his standing in the state. Currently, he is 20 percentage points ahead of the next closest candidate with 33 percent among South Carolinians, according to the Real Clear Politics average (the latest poll was conducted a few days prior to last Thursday’s GOP debate).
Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Scott has previously said he hopes to endorse at the end of the process, with the candidates’ positions on education playing a large role.
The only other candidate who has yet to accept Scott’s offer is former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, McKeown said. But national polling suggests that Gilmore may have difficulty making it to the South Carolina primary in February unless his fortunes changes fast.
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