Trump skips Heritage event in South Carolina to ... work a business deal?

South Carolina holds great import for Republican presidential hopefuls, and candidates invest heavily in efforts to woo potential primary voters. When a major contender decides to skip an opportunity to speak, that sends a message no matter what the motives may be. Did Donald Trump skip tonight’s Heritage Action Presidential Forum to complete a business deal — or to hunker down for a bit while controversial remarks from yesterday blow over? That’s the way The Hill frames it:

Donald Trump canceled his appearance Friday evening at a major campaign stop for the GOP presidential field in South Carolina as he faces criticism from both Republican and Democratic candidates over his failure to address claims that President Obama is a Muslim and “not even an American.”

Trump’s campaign announced in a statement Friday he no longer plans to speak at the Heritage Action Presidential Forum at the Bon Secours Arena in Greenville.

“Mr. Trump has a significant business transaction that was expected to close Thursday,” the campaign said. “Due to the delay he is unable to attend today’s Heritage Action Presidential Forum. He sends his regrets and looks forward to being with the great people of South Carolina on Wednesday in Columbia.”

Eh … doubtful. Trump thrives off of controversy, especially when it involves what he considers “political correctness” and excess restraint. This time it’s not even about what Trump said, but what he didn’t say to someone else’s statement. Sure, he could be criticized for not pushing back against the question when he had the opportunity, but Trump isn’t the one who made the statement — and Trump’s not all that sensitive when he is the one making controversial statements.

Don’t think for a moment that Lindsey Graham’s disapproval has Trump looking for shelter:

“At the end of the day, this is a defining moment for Mr. Trump,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell in an interview. “The man in the audience who asked that question needs to be put in his place.”

Graham added that he would not have tolerated similar behavior and that Trump should apologize for not objecting to the men and their accusations.

Trump has issued personal insults at Jeb Bush’s wife, Carly Fiorina, and Megyn Kelly without apologizing, not even when Bush demanded one during Wednesday’s debate. Hopefully, Graham isn’t holding his breath waiting for one.

So why is Trump skipping South Carolina? The excuse offered seems difficult to credit. If Trump is all in for a presidential run, business deals should have been delegated to others he can trust to act in his stead. If Trump can’t find anyone who can do that, then what does that say about how Trump will choose appointees when it comes to the nation’s trust? Either Trump isn’t telling the real reason why he’s taking a pass in a critical primary state, or he’s not terribly serious about the presidential campaign — and neither of those are particularly confidence-inspiring.

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