COLUMBIA, South Carolina – After speaking to a half-empty ballroom in the afternoon in South Carolina, 2016 GOP front-runner Donald Trump found firmer footing again on Wednesday night in the state capital.
More than a thousand people turned out to see Republican presidential candidate speak with the state’s Sen. Tim Scott for his Presidential Town Hall at a theater Columbia, where earlier in the day he formally filed to be on the ballot in the key early voting state’s primary early next year. Trump was well-received by an attentive and excited crowed.
“I’m crushing it!” he told the crowd, immediately telling them about the polling that shows him winning. Moments before Trump spoke, a new Fox News poll showed that Trump had maintained his lead with 26% of Republican primary voters, though the other political outsiders in the race, Dr. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, had risen in the polls behind him.
Trump expressed many of his usual talking points – build a wall to prevent illegal immigration, get rid of Obamacare, don’t be stupid and start winning again – and repeatedly stressed his opposition to the media.
“The press comes out and says ‘he’s not specific,’ Trump said. “Hey, I went to the best school … you don’t want to be too specific, you don’t want the enemy to know what you’re going to do!”
Still, Trump promised that he’d release a tax plan next week, one that would include a “major reduction of taxes for the middle class,” while also making corporations “very happy.”
The only people who might not like it are the “big hedge fund guys” Trump said.
The candidate made a handful of big promises: “We can get rid of probably 75% of the regulations,” Trump suggested. “The American dream is dead, but we’re going to make it bigger and better and stronger than ever before,” he said, criticizing the media for failing to report the second clause of that sentence.
Trump also brought up an unnamed poll that said he would win an astonishing 25% of the African-American vote in the general election. The last time a Republican won 25% or more of the black vote in a presidential race was 1960.
“Let me see that!” Sen. Tim Scott said, jumping up. Scott is the only black Republican currently in the Senate. According to NBC News exit polls in 2012, Scott won just 10% of the black vote in South Carolina, along with 88% of the white vote.
Trump boasted of having a “great” relationship with black voters and boasted of speaking to the South Carolina African-American Chamber of Commerce earlier in the day.
But at that event, Trump spoke to a mostly white audience. And with just over 500 attendees, it was considerably smaller than the 1,500 RSVPs the campaign told msnbc they’d received.