South Carolina / Bloomberg
On the eve of South Carolina’s Republican primary, billionaire Donald Trump suggested that one of the state’s top employers could lose jobs if he isn’t elected president because, he claimed, no one else will be as good a negotiator with the Chinese.
“Boeing is building massive plants in China,” he said at a rally in Myrtle Beach. “You have a beautiful plant. Be careful because when they cut the value of their currency, in two years after their plants are built, and you find out you’re losing — not going to happen if Trump is president, that I can tell you — but be careful.”
Later Friday, Trump called for a boycott of Apple Inc., in the wake of the company’s refusal to cooperate with a judge’s order to aid law enforcement in unlocking the San Bernardino shooting suspect’s iPhone. “Boycott Apple until they give up the information,” the Republican frontrunner said. “The phone is owned by the government.”
Trump also singled out Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, saying he’s “looking to do a big number, probably to show how liberal he is.”
Trump’s remarks came on the final full day of campaigning ahead of two key presidential contests that will shape the tone and duration of the Republican and Democratic races. The six remaining Republicans face off Saturday in South Carolina’s primary, while Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will compete three time zones to the west in the Nevada caucuses.
Boeing Co.’s 787 Dreamliner assembly plant came on line in 2011 in North Charleston and employs about 8,000 people in the region, part of a manufacturing renaissance the state has enjoyed in part because of its mostly non-unionized workforce.
Boeing doesn’t build jetliners outside of the U.S., although it unveiled its largest industrial investment in China last year: a new plant to finish work on planes before they are delivered to local carriers. “Boeing is committed to South Carolina, our workforce and the local community. We have invested more than $2 billion in the state since 2009,’’ Elizabeth Merida, a company spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.
Trump, who holds a commanding lead in South Carolina polls, also went after Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, his nearest rival, for being “the biggest liar I have ever seen,” and took credit for bringing Senator Marco Rubio of Florida into the fight.
“Even Marco Rubio said, ‘He’s a liar,’ and when a politician says another politician is a liar — I’ve never heard that before — I felt so good,” Trump said.
Cruz, in turn, launched a new attack on Trump, suggesting that he could not be trusted to pick a conservative justice to fill a Supreme Court vacancy, like the one created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
“If a candidate says — and described himself as very pro- choice and supporting partial birth abortion for the first 60 years of his life — there’s no reason on Earth to think they’d suddenly wake up and start fighting to appoint conservative justices,” Cruz told a crowd at the College of Charleston.
He didn’t mention Trump’s name, but the reference was unmistakable. Cruz’s campaign and allies have been hammering Trump in recent weeks for telling NBC in a 1999 interview that he was “very pro-choice” and wouldn’t ban partial-birth abortion.
Cruz, who has been emphasizing his credentials as a former Supreme Court litigator, vowed that if elected president, “every justice I put on the Supreme Court will be a principled constitutionalist” with a “proven record.”
“If we elect a Democrat we will lose our constitutional rights for a generation,” Cruz said. “But here’s the sad truth: electing a Republican if it’s the wrong Republican doesn’t ensure we keep our rights.”
Later during the Cruz rally, some in the crowd chanted, “Dump Trump!”
Rubio, the junior senator from Florida, won the endorsement of South Carolina’s popular governor, Nikki Haley, on Wednesday and she has been at his side on the campaign trail ever since. That could give him a significant boost as he continues to try to recover from his worse-than-expected fifth-place finish in New Hampshire’s primary on Feb. 9.
“We’ve got a lot of people watching us today and a lot of people want to know what we’re going to do tomorrow,” Haley told about 500 people gathered Friday for a Rubio event in the state capital of Columbia.
“We need to nominate someone that can bring us together,” said Rubio, who planned to barnstorm the state by airplane Friday, in his closing pitch. “I know that I can better than anyone in this race. I will bring this party and this movement together, so that we can begin the work of growing our movement.”
In a statement, Nevada Democratic Party officials sought to discourage Republicans from attempting any gamesmanship around their party’s caucuses.
“We believe that registering under false pretenses in order to participate in the Democratic caucuses for purposes of manipulating the presidential nominating process is a felony,” Roberta Lange, the state party’s leader, said in a statement.
“The Nevada State Democratic Party will work with law enforcement to prosecute anyone who falsely registers as a Democrat to caucus tomorrow and subsequently participates in the Republican caucuses on Tuesday.”
The latest campaign chapter arrives with its share of twists—a staple of the 2016 presidential race. Thursday brought a rare criticism of a White House candidate by a pope.
Condemning Trump’s hardline immigration agenda, Pope Francis singled out the New York real-estate developer and suggested that he “is not Christian” because of statements he’s made about building a wall on the Mexico border.