COLUMBIA — Gov. Henry McMaster and six other Republican governors have signed a letter supporting President Donald Trump's nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize, though their reasoning was put into question Tuesday.
The letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, dated Monday, argues Trump should get the 2019 prize for his "transformative efforts to bring peace to the Korean peninsula." It supports the nomination made last week by 18 Republican members of Congress.
McMaster's name is the first among the seven signers. The letter was released Tuesday, one month before a five-way GOP primary in which candidates are trying to out-Trump each other.
It comes as McMaster's campaign runs ads reminding voters that Trump endorsed him.
"After nearly two decades of gridlock and global anxiety surrounding North Korea’s nuclear program, we are now, at last, on the precipice of peace. There is but one new variable: President Donald J. Trump and his successful policy of security through strength," reads the letter to Berit Reiss-Andersen, chairwoman of the five-member committee that decides the winner.
Hours after the letter's release, an announcement from North Korea indicated that peace effort could be backsliding.
North Korea canceled a high-level meeting with South Korea scheduled for Wednesday and threatened also to call off next month's historic summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un due to ongoing military exercises between the South and the U.S., South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.
The letter's other signers are Govs. Kay Ivey of Alabama, Eddie Baza Calvo of Guam, Jeff Colyer of Kansas, Phil Bryant of Mississippi, Paul LePage of Maine and Jim Justice of West Virginia. Ivey and Colyer also face GOP challengers this year in bids to keep their jobs. Like McMaster, Colyer is seeking his first full term as governor after the former governor joined the Trump administration.
McMaster ascended to the governor's office last year when Nikki Haley was confirmed as United Nations ambassador.
The then-lieutenant governor was the first statewide official nationwide to back Trump for president. Trump then endorsed McMaster at a fundraiser in Greenville last fall.
McMaster's challengers are Mount Pleasant attorney Catherine Templeton, the former head of two state agencies; Greenville businessman John Warren; Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant of Anderson; and former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill of Kingstree.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.