“Donald Trump” rides in a car into the parking lot of the South Carolina State Fairgrounds on Saturday. (Photos by Charles Cheves/Carolina News and Reporter)

Former president Donald Trump won the South Carolina GOP presidential primary handily – despite his legal woes and efforts by political action committees to sway Democrats and independents to vote for Haley in the state.

Exit polls from NBC News showed about 65% of South Carolina Republican primary voters said they would still consider Trump fit to be president if he was convicted of a crime.

Rich Bruno, 57, who voted at Seven Oaks Elementary’s polling place in Lexington County, said he’d vote for Trump even if he was behind bars. 

“I’m going to vote for him if he’s in jail. I don’t care,” Bruno said of the legal cases. “I think they’re all frivolous. They’re all made up. They changed the law just for him.”

Julie Hall, who voted for Trump at Irmo High School in Lexington County, said she’s more focused on other issues.

“My mind is more wrapped around how he acts, not what he did in the past, but what he’s going to do in the future,” Hall said.

Other voters said they’re hesitant to vote for a candidate facing dozens of criminal charges. But some did anyway.

“It’s going to open a can of worms” if Trump wins, said Bruce Rollins, 33, who voted for the former president in Red Bank, in Lexington County. “But I say the cognitive display of Trump is a lot better than (President Joe) Biden.”

Roy King, 81, who cast his ballot at White Knoll Elementary School in Lexington County, said he voted for Trump to “give him a second term, because he still think’s he can finish what he started.”

“I mean most of his legal status is political, right?” King said.

Trump faces 91 criminal charges in four different cases. Those include conspiracy charges connected to the Jan. 6 insurrection, allegations of election interference in Georgia, charges of mishandling classified documents and allegations of falsifying business records.

Jason Puckett, 52, who also voted at White Knoll Elementary School, said he is “possibly” concerned with Trump’s legal cases but, “Donald Trump’s greatest accomplishment in his first presidency is showing just how corrupt Washington is.”

Sid Blebinns, 38, who voted at Crayton Middle School in Richland County, said “I think she’s (Haley) a great candidate. I just think it’s Donald Trump’s time.”

But Jackie Richards, 60, who voted at Satchel Ford Elementary School in Richland County, said she has many reasons to vote for the former governor. 

“I just think she’s just more grounded and, you know, not as combative and just causing division in our nation,” Richards said. “And I think we’re just tired of the division.”

Despite losing her home state, Haley reiterated she’s not dropping out.

“I said earlier this week that, no matter what happens in South Carolina, I would continue to run for president,” Haley said Saturday night from Charleston. “I’m a woman of my word.”

Haley also repeated a message that her campaign has long touted – that she has the best chance of beating Biden in the presidential election.

“We need to beat Joe Biden in November,” Haley said. “I don’t believe Donald Trump can beat Joe Biden.”

The next Republican presidential primary will take place in Michigan on Feb. 27.


Carolina News and Reporter writers Shamariah Vanderhorst, Eva Flowe and Stephen Enright contributed.

People stand in line Saturday at the State Fairgrounds in Columbia to get into the state GOP celebration. Trump and family members attended.