HILTON HEAD, S.C. — As the midterm primaries arrive in the Palmetto State Tuesday, two House Republicans are taking different approaches as they try to fend off attacks from former President Donald Trump.
Both Mace and Rice sharply criticized Trump after a mob of Trump supporters attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. But since then, Rice has continued in his criticism of the former president while Mace has tampered hers in recent months.
“The Constitution is the source of our freedom and our prosperity –it was bequeathed to us by our forefathers, and I want to leave it to the next generation,” Rice told NBC News in an interview at a campaign stop outside of Myrtle Beach, defending his vote to impeach Trump after Jan. 6. “I don’t want Donald Trump or anybody else to rip it to shreds.”
Rice has remained steadfast in his denunciation of Trump’s actions following the 2020 election. Trump endorsed and campaigned in the state for State Rep. Russell Fry, who is seeking to oust Rice in Tuesday’s primary.
Three hours south in Hilton Head, Mace campaigned at a barbecue restaurant alongside former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
Unlike Rice, Mace has avoided criticizing the former president as she seeks to beat back Trump-backed primary opponent Katie Arrington.
Mace angered Trump in the weeks after the Capitol attack when she vowed to be a “new voice for the Republican Party.” Days after the Capitol attack, she said on Meet the Press: “How do we hold a president accountable that put all of our lives at risk? … We have reconciliation that needs to happen within our own party. We need to rebuild the Republican Party.”
On Monday, Mace, when asked by NBC News if she stands by her position in January 2021 that Trump should have been censured, responded: “I am working really hard to win the votes of the first congressional district. Everyone knows what I said and why I said it, and that’s what’s really important here — that we have someone who’s a fiscal conservative, represents the values of the country. That’s what we’re running on today.”