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CHARLESTON, SC — At a marketing campaign occasion the weekend earlier than the South Carolina main election, Tom Rice, a conservative congressman who’s now on the mistaken aspect of former President Donald J. Trump, provided a confession.

“I made my subsequent election just a little harder than the earlier ones,” he mentioned Friday, imploring his supporters, a bunch he referred to as “cheap, rational individuals” and “good, strong mainstream Republicans,” to take action. help on the polls on Tuesday.

Two days earlier and a few 100 miles to the south, Rep. Nancy Mace, one other Palmetto state Republican who drew the previous president’s ire, acknowledged his place whereas knocking on doorways on a sweltering morning.

“I settle for all the pieces. I take duty. I am not backing down,” she mentioned, assured that voters in her Lowcountry district could be understanding. “They know that ‘hey, even when I do not agree together with her, at the very least she’s going to inform me the place she is,’” she added.

Mrs. Mace and Mr. Rice are the previous president’s two targets for revenge on Tuesday. After a pro-Trump mob stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, they had been amongst those that blamed the president for the assault. Ms. Mace, simply days into her first time period, mentioned Mr. Trump’s false rhetoric concerning the presidential election being “stolen” had fueled unrest and threatened his life. Rice, whose district borders Mace’s to the north, instantly condemned Trump and joined 9 different Republicans (however not Mace) in later voting to question him.

Now, dealing with main challenges backed by the previous president, the 2 have taken markedly totally different approaches to political survival. Ms. Mace has pulled her tooth out of her criticism of Trump, looking for as a substitute to debate her conservative voting report and his libertarian streak in coverage discussions. Rice, in contrast, has dug in, defending her impeachment vote and additional criticizing Trump within the course of.

If they will fend off their fundamental rivals on Tuesday, Mace and Rice will be part of a rising listing of incumbents who’ve endured the wrath of the Trump wing of the GOP with out ending their political careers. Nonetheless, their contradictory methods, a mirrored image of each their political instincts and the differing politics of their districts, will supply a glimpse of how far a candidate can go in difficult Trump.

Credit score…Madeline Grey for The New York Instances

Within the eyes of his supporters, Mace’s earlier feedback are much less concrete than an impeachment vote. She has made it her mission to enhance her relationship with the pro-Trump parts of the GOP, spending practically day by day of the previous couple of weeks on the marketing campaign path reminding voters of her Republican good religion, not her unfiltered criticism of Trump. Trump.

“Everybody is aware of I wasn’t completely satisfied that day,” he mentioned of January 6. “Everyone is aware of. All my constituents realize it.”

His district, which stretches from the left-wing corners of Charleston to the conservative nation golf equipment of Hilton Head, has an citizens that features far-right Republicans and liberal Democrats. Ms. Mace has been touted not solely as a conservative candidate but in addition as one who can defend the politically various district towards a Democratic challenger in November.

“It’s and all the time will likely be a altering district,” he mentioned. “I am a conservative, however I additionally perceive that I do not simply symbolize conservatives.”

Nonetheless, that isn’t a constructive message for everybody within the Lowcountry.

Ted Huffman, proprietor of Bluffton BBQ, a restaurant positioned within the coronary heart of the vacationer middle of town of Bluffton, mentioned he was supporting Katie Arrington, the Trump-backed former state consultant who’s taking over Ms. Mace. What he counted towards Mace was not her feud with Trump, however her relative absence from the a part of the district the place the restaurant is positioned, Huffman mentioned.

“Katie Arrington, she’s been right here,” mentioned Mr. Huffman, recalling the few occasions Mrs. Arrington visited Bluffton BBQ. “I’ve by no means seen Nancy Mace.”

Throughout an occasion in Summerville with Nikki Haley, the previous governor of South Carolina, Ms. Mace delivered a speech that ran via an inventory of right-wing speaking factors: excessive inflation fueled by President Biden’s financial agenda, an inflow of immigrants on the southern border, help for navy veterans. She didn’t point out Mr. Trump.

Ms. Mace is predicting a decisive main victory towards Ms. Arrington, who has positioned her endorsement of Trump on the coronary heart of her marketing campaign message. A win over that, Mace mentioned, would show “the weak spot of any backing.”

“Normally I do not put an excessive amount of weight on sponsorships as a result of they do not matter,” he mentioned. “He’s actually the candidate. He’s the particular person individuals vote for, that is what issues.”

Talking from her entrance porch in Moncks Nook, South Carolina, Deidre Stechmeyer, a 42-year-old stay-at-home mother, mentioned she was not carefully following Ms. Mace’s profession. However when she was requested concerning the congresswoman’s feedback condemning the January 6 riots, she modified her thoughts.

“That is one thing I agree together with her on,” he mentioned, including that he supported Mace’s choice to certify the Electoral Faculty vote, a transfer that some within the GOP have pointed to as an final betrayal of Trump. “There was a lot battle and uncertainty. I really feel prefer it ought to have been licensed.”

Mr. Rice’s impeachment vote, however, includes a extra relatable twist.

It is a part of the rationale Mrs. Mace has a snug profession lead, according to recent surveyswhereas Rice faces many extra main challengers and can almost certainly head to a runoff with a Trump-backed state consultant, Russell Fry, after Tuesday.

The Fry marketing campaign has targeted Rice’s impeachment vote on its message, turning the vote right into a referendum on Rice’s 5 phrases in Congress.

“That is about greater than Donald Trump. He’s about an incumbent congressman shedding the belief of a really conservative district,” mentioned Matt Moore, a former chairman of the South Carolina Republican Social gathering and an adviser to the Fry marketing campaign.

Nonetheless, Rice is banking on her hyperconservative financial report and her once-unapologetic help for the previous president to win him a sixth time period in one among South Carolina’s most pro-Trump constituencies.

Credit score…Logan R. Cyrus for The New York Instances

In an interview, Rice highlighted the GOP’s shift towards prioritizing social points over politics, one thing she mentioned had been pushed partially by the previous president’s wing of the occasion, which helped redefine it.

He additionally laid out what the Republican Social gathering ought to stand for: “much less taxes, much less authorities, extra freedom, particular person duty, the American Dream,” he mentioned. “If we’re not in favor of that, then, my God, I do not know what the GOP is all about.”

The impeachment vote additionally received him favor with some voters. Rick Giles, a Rice supporter in Conway, South Carolina, mentioned he admired Rice for his vote.

“He stood as much as Trump when lots of people did not,” Giles mentioned. “He stood agency on his values. He didn’t comply with the occasion line. I like that.”

Credit score…Madeline Grey for The New York Instances

Rice’s district, within the northeast nook of South Carolina alongside the North Carolina border, is among the most conservative within the state, favoring Republicans by practically 30 factors. And earlier than the impeachment vote, Rice was one among Trump’s staunchest supporters, with a voting report that matched Trump’s stance greater than 90 p.c of the time.

“This isn’t about my voting report. This isn’t about my help for Trump. It isn’t about my ideology. It isn’t as a result of this different man is sweet,” Rice mentioned. “There is just one cause why he’s doing this. And it is only for revenge.

Mr. Trump has had much less success within the states within the wake of his fundamental challenger drive. In Georgia, two of his most outstanding perceived enemies, Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, handily received their primaries towards challengers backed by the previous president. The 2 Home races wherein he didn’t endorse incumbents led to runoffs.

Mark Sanford, a former congressman who was edged out by Arrington in 2018 after Trump endorsed his fundamental problem, predicted Mace would prevail.

“I believe will probably be nice,” he mentioned, pointing to the state’s rising variety of transplants from northern states that are inclined to favor established candidates. “That bodes nicely for Nancy, it does not bode nicely for Katie.”

Nonetheless, he mentioned, Tuesday’s result’s unlikely to alter the previous president’s political method.

“It is binary with Trump,” Sanford mentioned. “You are not midway, midway, you are in or out.”


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