Charleston photographer in Trump feud over empty chair shot

The Associated Press photograph showing rows of empty seats during a campaign appearance last week by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in North Charleston drew a nasty response from the New York businessman.

Donald Trump has made it known he isn’t happy with a Charleston-based Associated Press photographer who took a picture showing rows of empty seats at the Republican presidential candidate’s appearance in North Charleston last week.

The photographer, Mic Smith, who previously worked for this newspaper, also isn’t happy that Trump called him a nasty name because of it.

Smith was at the Charleston Area Convention Center on Wednesday and snapped a picture showing empty chairs at the back of the room. The shot was done about one-third of the way into Trump’s speech.

“The photo is 100 percent truthful,” Smith said of the empty seats.

Smith noted his entire photo shoot included very positive images of Trump as well, including a shot of people crowded around the GOP pack leader at the front of the room.

“There’s no way getting around the fact that the room wasn’t full,” Smith said. “He’s always claiming how he fills the room, so I thought it would be newsworthy to show it not full.”

“I thought when I sent the pictures it might make him mad,” he added, “but I was confident in the fact that the photos were truthful.”

Trump hated the shot. He later called Smith an (expletive) thief,” according to the U.K.’s Daily Mail, adding: “Tell them they’re a fraud, whoever took it. I just got killed on that thing, and it was just really unfair.”

Smith said he conferred with a Post and Courier journalist on the image at the time and both felt it was fair.

“I guess this is my 15 minutes of fame,” Smith said, “but I’m being overshadowed by the pope and John Boehner.”

The Associated Press stood by the photo.

If you resemble GOP front-runner Donald Trump — or even have his floppy hair — you may be able to help out a worthy cause.

A local veteran’s aid group is sponsoring the “First National Trump Impersonation and Campaign Contest” next month on Folly Beach.

There’s even some hope that “The Donald” himself will come and be the judge.

The contest is being run by Rudy Socha of Wounded Nature — Working Veterans, a group that helps clean up local waterways and coasts.

The event is set for Oct. 10 at Locklear’s Beach City Grill at the Charleston County pier on Folly’s front beach.

Participants are expected to give the look, talk the talk and a 30-second campaign speech on why people should donate to Wounded Nature — Working Veterans.

Top prize is $100.

The contest begins at 3 p.m. Donations are being requested for the group.

For contest rules: http://woundednature.org/trump/, or Rudy Socha, CEO Wounded Nature — Working Veterans at rudy@woundednature.org

The agenda for Tuesday’s S.C. Democratic Party executive committee meeting won’t be set until Monday, so it’s anybody’s guess if the party leadership will take up the thorny issue of dropping the name of their annual fundraiser Jefferson-Jackson Dinner because of its connection to two Democratic presidents who were slaveholders.

The change is being explored because of recent events tied to the shootings at Emanuel AME Church and other issues surrounding the Confederate battle flag.

Under pressure from the NAACP, the Connecticut Democratic Party this summer unanimously scrubbed the names of Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson from its annual fundraising dinner.

A South Carolina party official said Democrats have expressed their views on both sides of the issue — keeping it or changing it.

One of the issues expected to soon force Vice President Joe Biden into declaring a White House run is the timetable for getting on primary and caucus ballots for the 50 states.

In South Carolina, Democrats running for the White House have between Nov. 1 and Dec. 4 to pay their $20,000 filing fee for the Feb. 27 primary.

That gives Biden just a few weeks to decide if he wants to launch a campaign for the Democrats’ first contest in the South.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Sunday will be at the South Strand Republican Club & Georgetown County Republican Party Meet & Greet, 4 p.m. Uncle Mikey’s Brick Oven Pizza, 4378 US-17 BUS, Murrells Inlet. On Monday he’ll be at a Town Hall sponsored by U.S. Sen Tim Scott, R-S.C., 11:15 a.m., Crown Reef Resort Conference Center, 2913 S Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Friday will be in Greenville for the Conservative Leadership Project Presidential Forum. The event will run 2:30-3:30 p.m. at McAlister Auditorium, 3300 Poinsett Hwy, Greenville.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina on Friday will take place in U.S. Sen. Tim Scott’s Town Hall event, at noon on the campus of the University of South Carolina-Aiken.

Compiled by reporters Robert Behre and Schuyler Kropf