A decisive showing in Beaufort County helped propel businessman Donald Trump to statewide victory in South Carolina’s Republican primary on Saturday.
Some Beaufort County residents at the polls said they supported Trump because of his rejection of traditional political rhetoric.
“Trump is saying things everyone wants to say, but they feel like they can’t,” said Tyson Milbert, of Bluffton. “He’s saying what I’d say in my backyard, and I think he can actually get things done.”
Milbert and his wife, Jenn, woke up at 3 a.m. on election day to post Trump campaign signs around Bluffton and pass out T-shirts with the Trump slogan, “Make America Great Again,” near polling locations.
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Trump supporters also cited his business experience.
“I read Trump’s book ‘The Art of the Deal’ when it first came out,” said John Ontal, of Hilton Head. “I want a president who can bring that kind of business experience.”
In Beaufort County, with all precincts reporting, Trump won with 30.06 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results Saturday night. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio won 27.68 percent of the county vote followed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich with 18.94 percent. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz garnered 13.37 percent. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who suspended his campaign as the early results began coming in, had 6.63 percent. Neurosurgeon Ben Carson received 3.32 percent.
Trump’s margin of victory was much wider in statewide results. With 99 percent of the votes reported statewide, he led with 33 percent compared with Rubio’s 23 percent. Kasich found stronger support in Beaufort County compared with his results in the rest of the state, where he was reported to have just 8 percent of the vote as of press time.
Supporters of Rubio voting on Saturday said they respect his ability to communicate his vision for the country.
“Rubio is the best at articulating his conservative values,” said Leland Stoddard, of Beaufort. “And I thought he did the best at the town halls this week.”
Kasich’s supporters said they valued his positive campaign style and past experience.
“He never got into the mudslinging in the campaign,” said Judy Hatfield, of Bluffton, who relocated from Ohio two years ago. “I like that he always stayed positive and focused on the issues.”
Yet others said they were happy the primary was finally over after a week of being bombarded with robocalls from campaigns.
“It’s nonstop,” said Edward Foster, of Beaufort, who voted for Kasich. “I’ve gotten dozens just this week. I’m not going to miss that.”
Beaufort County election officials said they were pleased with a high countywide turnout of 28.78 percent of registered voters, according to an initial tally. In 2012, turnout for the Republican primary was only 5.7 percent.