The South Carolina primaries are half over as the Republican primary wrapped last night and the Democratic primary will take place next weekend. The history of South Carolina primaries consists of nasty brawls that make or break candidates – and this election is no different.
Trump won the primary last night with about 32 percentage points, according to The Washington Post. Rubio came in second with about 22 percent and Cruz came in at a close third.
This left Jeb Bush in the fourth slot, just shy of 8 percent of the vote, and he later announced that he was suspending his campaign. But before any of this happened, the candidates arrived in South Carolina and showed no mercy when it came to attacking their fellow GOP candidates.
Most of the contenders arrived in South Carolina Feb. 10 to start rallying up their supporters. Not even in the state yet, Rubio – while on a chartered airplane –attacked Bush for lacking foreign-policy experience and Trump for not being specific enough about his policies, according to The Washington Post. Later that same day when he was actually on South Carolina land, he made a reference to Bush and Kasich when he talked about his aversion to the Common Core, since they both support the program.
Meanwhile, Bush attacked Kasich for two main issues: expanding Medicaid under ObamaCare and for supporting military defense cuts.
“He led the charge to expand Medicaid and is quite proud of that,” Bush told a crowd. “I wouldn’t be proud of that, to be honest with you.”
Bush also criticized Trump, calling him a “phenomenal entertainer” who lacks the temperament to be president, according to The Washington Post.
While this was all going on, Trump was at Clemson University, where he only went after Bush, calling him a “stiff” and “low energy” person who is controlled by his donors.
In the same day, Cruz told people at Myrtle Beach, “Trump’s record is not conservative.”
Cruz was more specific on Mike Gallagher’s talk radio show, highlighting Trump’s past support for abortion rights and bank bailouts.
Come Wednesday, there were only two GOP candidates that stayed clean: Kasich and Carson. Kasich told reporters flying with him to South Carolina that he hoped to keep his message optimistic.
The CBS News Republican Debate Feb. 13 led to major attacks on every single candidate still in the race.
Rubio and Cruz got into a brawl over immigration reform, as Rubio calling out Cruz for not being able to speak Spanish. Trump accused Cruz of lying to voters and saying that Trump was not running in the state, to get more votes. Trump even called George W. Bush’s push to wage war in Iraq a mistake, according to CNN.
Bush responded back by saying, “While Donald Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus” to keep the country safe, he said.
Trump hit right back by stating that it was under Bush’s watch that the World Trade Centers fell September 11, 2001.
The only issue that all the candidates agreed on was for President Obama to let the next president nominate a new Supreme Court Justice.
According to history, South Carolina has always been the place for candidates to lash out at one another.
“There’s the stooge third-party candidate allegedly recruited by legendary Republican operative Lee Atwater to deliver anti-Semitic attacks against Democratic congressional candidate Max Heller in 1978 or the shadowy ‘push polls’ about black babies that helped undercut Arizona Sen. John McCain’s renegade presidential bid here in 2000,” CNN said in one article.
The last time an attack injured a campaign was in 2000, when George W. Bush supporters carried out an assault on McCain’s character, questioning his patriotism and the race of his adopted daughter in a wave of anonymous phone calls, according to CNN.
Another less impactful incident happened when Wesley Donehue, a Romney consultant during the 2008 race in South Carolina, was caught creating a web site called “Phony Fred” that questioned then-candidate Fred Thompson’s conservative ideas.
The worst hit actually came against Romney. Just after Christmas in 2007, someone sent anonymous postcards to South Carolina mailboxes calling attention to the former Massachusetts governor’s Mormon faith, according to CNN.
During the 2012 presidential election, the feuding died down a bit, but is obviously in full swing again in 2016.
Former state GOP chairman Katon Dawson told The Washington Post his take on the South Carolina primaries.
“People in Iowa expect the candidate to trudge through the snow, do small meetings in diners,” he said. “In New Hampshire, they expect a candidate to come to their living room, sit on the sofa, have some coffee. In South Carolina, 700,000 people want to see how you take a punch.”