MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) — Donald Trump's wife campaigned with him for the first time in South Carolina on Tuesday, telling voters she loved them and saying her husband would be "the best president, ever."
"Isn't he the best?" Melania Trump asked the crowd of thousands in Myrtle Beach, flanked by her parents and three of the businessman's children. "We love you."
Unlike come of his rivals' spouses, Trump's wife has until this point chosen to stay largely behind-the-scenes, though Trump mentions her often at events.
Trump's family left the stage before the Republican presidential hopeful launched into more than an hour of criticism of both his GOP rivals and the Obama administration.
Calling President Barack Obama a "divider" who has done nothing to unite the country, Trump also again called out Hillary Rodham Clinton as lacking the "strength or the stamina" to lead the country. Marco Rubio, he said, is "weak on immigration, really weak."
A few minutes into his remarks, Trump also called up on stage an impersonator he spotted in the crowd. He complimented the imitator's blond wig, calling it a "big, beautiful head of hair."
While Trump stirred his crowd in Myrtle Beach, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush campaigned about 160 miles away in Rock Hill, South Carolina, where he collected endorsements from local elected officials and dismantled Trump's immigration plan. Talk of a wall and "making Mexico pay for it," while deporting 11 million people, Bush said, appeals to voters' frustrations but does little else.
"It might make you sound good," Bush said. "It might make you look like the strong guy. ... It's not going to happen. Let's get real with this and have a solution that's reality based."
At an earlier stop about an hour's drive west in Spartanburg, Bush expressed disappointment that a black protester was physically assaulted at a recent Trump rally in Alabama. Trump later said Mercutio Southall Jr. "maybe ... should have been roughed up."
"Look, you don't see that happening at my (events)," Bush said. "I'm trying to inspire people that life can get better for them. I'm not trying to play on their fears."
Back in Myrtle Beach, Trump denounced the media for focusing on the protesters rather than his popularity at campaign appearances.
"Seventy percent of those people back there are absolutely total scum," Trump said Tuesday, gesturing to the press area at the back of the arena, getting a roar and applause from the crowd.
Barrow reported from from Rock Hill and Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Kinnard can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP . Read more of her work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/meg-kinnard