The GOP’s crowded 2016 presidential field descends on South Carolina Friday for an event meant for displaying their conservative credentials.
The Heritage Action for America super-PAC is hosting 11 out of 16 candidates in a forum for the early-voting state’s residents at its Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville.
The stop is a big landing point for Southern conservatives two days after the White House hopefuls met in a bruising debate airing from Simi Valley, Calif., on CNN.
GOP presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpJulian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy Overnight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment Five takeaways from Arizona's audit results MORE plans to attend and satisfy criticisms that he is not a true conservative.
It is also attracting other outsider political candidates: retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.
Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) are scheduled as well, following appearances at the Heritage Foundation, Heritage Action’s parent organization, in years past.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.), former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Govs. Scott Walker (R-Wis.), Chris Christie (R-N.J.) and Bobby Jindal (R-La.) round out the forum’s booked participants.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is notably absent from the campaign stop in his home state.
He won't be attending because of Heritage Action’s requirements for minimum national polling numbers. The senator polled below the group’s minimum 1 percent voter support, according to August’s RealClearPolitics average of national samplings.
Former Govs. Jim Gilmore (R-Va.) and George Pataki (R-N.Y.) are also missing the cut.
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) and Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio), meanwhile, declined invitations from Heritage Action to appear at Friday’s forum for campaign events elsewhere.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) plans on hosting the participants alongside former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Heritage Action CEO Mike Needham.
DeMint, a major figure in Palmetto State politics, now serves as the Heritage Foundation’s president.
Trump currently leads the race for next year’s GOP presidential nomination across multiple national polls. He ranks first out of 16 contenders with 30.5 percent voter support, according to the latest RealClearPolitics average.