"The winner of the (Iowa) caucuses in the last 20 years has come from out of the top three finishers in the straw poll," he told two-dozen Republicans at a Rock Hill restaurant. Then he headed off to Columbia.
On Monday, rival Mike Huckabee found a different reception in York County.
The former Arkansas governor, who finished second in the straw vote, spoke to an overflow crowd of more than 100 people in York, 60 at a Fort Mill sports bar and later hosted a fundraiser for another 150 at Knights Stadium, where he was to throw out the first pitch.
Huckabee and his supporters credit his Iowa showing with helping boost the turnout in York County. But he clearly had support there before Iowa. Earlier this year he packed a Fort Mill restaurant and finished second in a straw poll at the county convention.
He's had passionate supporters in York County. Now they're confident too.
"If we get our ground game going full steam and get people on board," we'll win South Carolina," said York County supporter Joe St. John.
S.C. Republicans plan to hold the "First in the South" presidential contest next year. It's currently scheduled for Jan. 19.