Donald Trump got a few boos from the audience at Thursday night’s GOP presidential debate in South Carolina, and conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh is blaming North Carolina Republicans.
Limbaugh didn’t offer a source for his claim, which N.C. Republican Party leaders say is completely false.
“I’ll tell you where the boo birds were coming from,” Limbaugh said Friday, according to a transcript of his show. “They were coming from North Carolina.
“The North Carolina GOP bused a bunch of people down there, and their express purpose was to try to show that there is no massive support for Trump. They wanted to do some damage. They are grudgingly accepting Ted Cruz now.”
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
NCGOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse said he and about 20 or 30 people affiliated with the state party attended the debate in North Charleston, S.C. He said none of them booed Trump, and said many of the party members traveled to South Carolina separately and didn’t sit together.
“I have no earthly idea where this came from, or whether he just misspoke,” Woodhouse said. “There’s no coordinated effort to even bring anybody here. It’s ludicrous to think we would pick a dog in the fight, because that would be a losing game for us.”
Two Republican state legislators attended the debate: Rep. David Lewis of Dunn and Rep. Jason Saine of Lincolnton. Saine is a state co-chairman for Marco Rubio’s campaign, and Lewis has not publicly endorsed a presidential candidate.
“Our activists are all over the map on who they support on this thing,” Woodhouse said, adding that he expects party members will strongly back the winner. “I don’t think there will be any problem getting behind whoever the nominee is in North Carolina.”
Since Limbaugh’s comments aired, the party has received “a couple of phone calls” voicing concerns, Woodhouse said.