McMaster uses presidential visit to show support for Trump

By MEG KINNARD
Associated Press

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) -- For Henry McMaster, Friday was a sweet payoff for his months of steadfastly standing behind Donald Trump no matter the storms swirling around the president.

Standing on Boeing's sprawling North Charleston campus, South Carolina's new governor gave Trump an effusive welcome to South Carolina.

"This may be the single best day in the history of South Carolina," McMaster said, introducing the president. "We are going to make America great again and greater than ever before."

McMaster was South Carolina's lieutenant governor last year when, just before the state's primary, he became the first statewide elected official in the country to back Trump's candidacy. The longtime fixture in South Carolina Republican politics ascended last month to the state's top office, when Trump picked then-Gov. Nikki Haley for his ambassador to the United Nations.

Trump was in North Charleston to witness the rollout the 787-10 Dreamliner, Boeing's new $300 million aircraft. Before the president took the podium, massive hangar doors opened to reveal Air Force One and the new plane, side by side. The visit also came two days after Boeing workers voted overwhelmingly against unionizing the plant -- a victory for state GOP leaders who have used South Carolina's anti-union stance to recruit manufacturing jobs.

McMaster sticks to generalities in his support for Trump, however, and doesn't publicly go into specifics about why he backs the president's initiatives.

That is apparently fine with Trump.

"It's wonderful to be back in South Carolina, especially with your new governor," Trump said. "Stand up, Henry. Proud of you. He helped us so much."

While in South Carolina Trump also met with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg and, ahead of Trump's appearance, toured Boeing's production facilities with Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband, adviser Jared Kushner.

While the reception in the hangar for Trump was warm and loud, his visit was met with some local resistance. About a mile from the plant, more than 100 people gathered in protest, South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison said.

In a release sent out ahead of the visit, state Democrats said Trump was "taking his Russian clown show on the road."

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Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP . Read more of her work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/meg-kinnard/ .