Nikki Haley to suspend her campaign, leaving Donald Trump as last major Republican candidate

Nikki Haley will suspend her presidential campaign on March 6 after being soundly defeated across the country on Super Tuesday, according to people familiar with her decision, leaving Donald Trump as the last remaining major candidate for the 2024 Republican nomination.

Three people with direct knowledge, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly, confirmed Ms. Haley’s decision ahead of an announcement by her scheduled for March 6 morning.

Ms. Haley is not planning to endorse Mr. Trump in her announcement, according to the people with knowledge of her plans. Instead, she is expected to encourage him to earn the support of the coalition of moderate Republicans and independent voters who supported her.

Ms. Haley, a former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador, was Mr. Trump’s first significant rival when she jumped into the race in February 2023. She spent the final phase of her campaign aggressively warning the GOP against embracing Mr. Trump, whom she argued was too consumed by chaos and personal grievance to defeat President Joe Biden in the general election.

Her departure clears Mr. Trump to focus solely on his likely rematch in November with Mr. Biden. The former President is on track to reach the necessary 1,215 delegates to clinch the Republican nomination later this month.

Ms. Haley’s defeat marks a painful, if predictable, blow to those voters, donors and Republican Party officials who opposed Mr. Trump and his fiery brand of “Make America Great Again” politics. She was especially popular among moderates and college-educated voters, constituencies that will likely play a pivotal role in the general election. It’s unclear whether Mr. Trump, who recently declared that Ms. Haley donors would be permanently banned from his movement, can ultimately unify a deeply divided party.

Mr. Trump on March 5 night declared that the GOP was united behind him, but in a statement shortly afterward, Ms. Haley spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas said, “Unity is not achieved by simply claiming, ‘We’re united.’”

“Today, in state after state, there remains a large block of Republican primary voters who are expressing deep concerns about Donald Trump,” Ms. Perez-Cubas said. “That is not the unity our party needs for success. Addressing those voters’ concerns will make the Republican Party and America better.”

Ms. Haley leaves the 2024 presidential contest having made history as the first woman to win a Republican primary. She beat Trump in the District of Columbia on Sunday and Vermont on Tuesday.

She had insisted she would stay in the race through Super Tuesday and crossed the country campaigning in states holding Republican contests. Ultimately, she was unable to knock Mr. Trump off his glide path to a third straight nomination.

Ms. Haley’s allies note that she exceeded most of the political world’s expectations by making it as far as she did.

She had initially ruled out running against Mr. Trump in 2024. But she changed her mind and ended up launching her bid three months after he did, citing among other things the country’s economic troubles and the need for “generational change.” Ms. Haley, 52, later called for competency tests for politicians over the age of 75 — a knock on both Mr. Trump, who is 77, and President Joe Biden, who is 81.

Her candidacy was slow to attract donors and support, but she ultimately outlasted all of her other GOP rivals, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Tim Scott, her fellow South Carolinian whom she appointed to the Senate in 2012. And the money flowed in until the very end. Her campaign said it raised more than $12 million in February alone.

She gained popularity with many Republican donors, independent voters and the so-called “Never Trump” crowd, even though she criticized the criminal cases against him as politically motivated and pledged that, if President, she would pardon him if he were convicted in federal court.

As the field consolidated, she and Mr. DeSantis battled it out through the early-voting states for a distant second to Mr. Trump. The two went after each other in debates, ads and interviews, often more directly than they went after Mr. Trump.

The campaign’s focus on foreign policy following Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel in October tilted the campaign into Ms. Haley’s wheelhouse, giving her an opportunity to showcase her experience from the U.N., tying the war to her conservative domestic priorities and arguing that both Israel and the U.S. could be made vulnerable by what she called “distractions.”

Ms. Haley was slow to criticize her former boss directly.

As she campaigned across early states, Ms. Haley often complimented some of Mr. Trump’s foreign policy achievements but gradually inserted more critiques into her campaign speeches. She argued Mr. Trump’s hyperfocus on trade with China led him to ignore security threats posed by a major U.S. rival. She warned that weak support for Ukraine would “only encourage” China to invade Taiwan, a viewpoint shared by several of her GOP rivals, even as many Republican voters questioned whether the U.S. should send aid to Ukraine.

In November, Ms. Haley — an accountant who had consistently touted her lean campaign — won the backing of the political arm of the powerful Koch network. AFP Action blasted early-state voters with mailers and door-knockers, committing its nationwide coalition of activists and virtually unlimited funds to helping Ms. Haley defeat Mr. Trump.

With Mr. Trump refusing to participate in primary debates, Ms. Haley went head-to-head with Mr. DeSantis in a single debate, displaying a combative style that seemed to sit poorly with even those committed to support her in the Iowa caucuses. She would finish third.

Ms. Haley’s name emerged as a possible running mate for Mr. Trump, with the former President reportedly asking allies what they thought of adding her to his possible ticket. As Ms. Haley appeared to gain ground, some of Mr. Trump’s backers worked to tamp down the notion.

While Ms. Haley initially notably declined to rule out the possibility, she said while campaigning in New Hampshire in January that serving as “anybody’s vice president” is “off the table.”

After Mr. DeSantis exited the campaign following Mr. Trump’s record-setting win in the Iowa caucuses, Ms. Haley hoped that New Hampshire voters would feel so strongly about keeping the former President away from the White House that they would turn out to support her in large numbers.

“America does not do coronations,” Ms. Haley said at a VFW hall in Franklin on the eve of the New Hampshire primary. “Let’s show all of the media class and the political class that we’ve got a different plan in mind, and let’s show the country what we can do.”

But she would lose New Hampshire and then refused to participate in Nevada’s caucuses, arguing the State’s rules strongly favoured Mr. Trump. She instead ran in the State’s primary, which didn’t count for any delegates for the nomination. She still finished a distant second to “ none of these candidates,” an option Nevada offers to voters dissatisfied with their choices and used by many Mr. Trump supporters to oppose her.

She had long vowed to win South Carolina but backed off of that pledge as the primary drew nearer. She crisscrossed the state that twice elected her governor on a bus tour, holding smaller events than Mr. Trump’s less frequent rallies and suggesting she was better equipped to beat Mr. Biden than him.

She lost South Carolina by 20 points and Michigan three days later by 40. The Koch brothers’ AFP Action announced after her South Carolina loss that it would stop organizing for her.

But by staying in the campaign, Ms. Haley drew enough support from suburbanites and college-educated voters to highlight Mr. Trump’s apparent weaknesses with those groups.

Ms. Haley has made clear she doesn’t want to serve as Mr. Trump’s Vice President or run on a third-party ticket arranged by the group No Labels. She leaves the race with an elevated national profile that could help her in a future presidential run.

In recent days, she backed off a pledge to endorse the eventual Republican nominee that was required of anyone participating in party debates.

“I think I’ll make what decision I want to make,” she told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

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Trump’s last Republican rival Nikki Haley ends US presidential election campaign

Nikki Haley ended her long-shot challenge to Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump on Wednesday, ensuring the former president will be the party’s candidate in a rematch with Democratic President Joe Biden in November’s election. 

Haley, the former South Carolina governor and Trump‘s ambassador to the United Nations when he was president, made the announcement in a speech in Charleston a day after Super Tuesday, when Trump beat her soundly in 14 of 15 Republican nominating contests.

“The time has now come to suspend my campaign,” Haley said. “I have no regrets.”

Haley lasted longer than any other Republican challenger to Trump but never posed a serious threat to the former president, whose iron grip on the party’s base remains firm despite multiple criminal indictments.

The rematch between Trump, 77, and Biden, 81 – the first repeat U.S. presidential contest since 1956 – is one that few Americans want. Opinion polls show both Biden and Trump have low approval ratings among voters.

The election promises to be deeply divisive in a country already riven by political polarization. Biden has cast Trump as an existential danger to democratic principles, while Trump has sought to re-litigate his false claims that he won in 2020.

Haley, 52, drew support from deep-pocketed donors intent on stopping Trump from winning a third consecutive Republican presidential nomination, particularly after she notched a series of strong performances at debates that Trump opted to skip.

She ultimately failed to pry loose enough conservative voters in the face of Trump’s dominance. But her stronger showing among moderate Republicans and independents highlighted how Trump’s scorched-earth style of politics could make him vulnerable in the Nov. 5 election against Biden.

Haley put emphasis on foreign policy

Drawing on her foreign-policy experience as U.N. ambassador, Haley said throughout her campaign that the United States must help Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression, a position at odds with Trump.

There was no indication Trump would moderate his message. “He’ll continue to focus on the issues that matter: immigration, economy, foreign policy,” Karoline Leavitt, press secretary for the Trump campaign, said late on Tuesday.

Biden has his own baggage, including widespread concern about his age. Three-quarters of respondents in a February Reuters/Ipsos poll said he was too old to work in government, after already serving as the oldest U.S. president in history. About half of respondents said the same about Trump.

Key issues

As in 2020, the race is likely to come down to a handful of swing states, thanks to the winner-take-all, state-by-state Electoral College system that determines the presidential election. Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are all expected to be closely contested in November.

The central issues of the campaign have already come into focus. Despite low unemployment, a red-hot stock market and easing inflation, voters have voiced dissatisfaction with Biden’s economic performance.

Biden’s other major weakness is the state of the U.S.-Mexico border, where a surge of migrants overwhelmed the system after Biden eased some Trump-era policies. Trump’s hawkish stance on immigration – including a promise to initiate the largest deportation effort in history – is at the core of his campaign, just as it was in 2016.

Voters expect Trump would do a better job on both the economy and immigration, according to opinion polls. Republican lawmakers, egged on by Trump, rejected a bipartisan immigration enforcement bill in February, giving Biden an opportunity to argue that Republicans are more interested in preserving the southern border as a problem rather than finding a solution.

Democrats are also optimistic that voter sentiment on the economy will shift in Biden’s favor if economic trends go on rising throughout 2024.

Trump may be dogged by criminal charges throughout the year, though the schedule of his trials remains unclear. The federal case charging him with trying to overturn the 2020 election, perhaps the weightiest he faces, has been paused while Trump pursues a long-shot argument that he is immune from prosecution.

While most Republicans view his indictments as politically motivated, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling, about a quarter of Republicans and half of independents say they won’t support him if he is convicted of a crime before the election. Biden has said Trump poses a threat to democracy, citing the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters seeking to reverse Biden’s 2020 victory.

Abortion, too, will play a crucial role after the nine-member U.S. Supreme Court, buoyed by three Trump appointees, eliminated a nationwide right to terminate pregnancies in 2022. The subject has become a political liability for Republicans, helping Democrats over-perform expectations in the 2022 midterm elections.

Abortion rights advocates have launched efforts to put the issue before voters in several states, including the battleground of Arizona.

Haley thwarted

Haley had been among the first Republican contenders to enter the race in February 2023, but she was largely an afterthought until garnering attention for her standout debate performances later in the year.

Through it all, she was reluctant to completely disavow her former boss, having served as his U.N. ambassador. Trump showed no such reticence, frequently insulting her intelligence and Indian heritage.

Only in the last months of her campaign did Haley begin to forcefully hit back at Trump, questioning his mental acuity, calling him a liar and saying he was too afraid to debate her.

In the final weeks of the campaign, she became the standard-bearer for the anti-Trump wing of the party, a dramatic evolution for someone who just months earlier praised the former president in her stump speeches.

Still, she said that as president she would pardon Trump if he were convicted in any of the criminal cases he faces, a position she has never abandoned.


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Super Tuesday’s key takeaways: A Biden-Trump rematch and warnings for both

Super Tuesday yielded no surprises, with US President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump emerging the biggest winners in the biggest single day of voting in the US primaries. But there were cautionary signals for both candidates as the 2024 campaign season heads for a battering phase in the leadup to November’s presidential election.

Hours after the polls closed in California on Super Tuesday, the two candidates heading for a foreseen presidential rematch set the tone of their campaigns ahead of the November vote.

It was predictable and dismaying for the electors who matter most in the 2024 US presidential election: undecided voters in key swing states.

The Democrat incumbent, President Joe Biden, warned of an “existential” national threat and “darkness” if his Republican rival wins the White House race.

“Four years ago, I ran because of the existential threat Donald Trump posed to the America we all believe in,” Biden wrote in a statement. “Tonight’s results leave the American people with a clear choice: Are we going to keep moving forward or will we allow Donald Trump to drag us backwards into the chaos, division, and darkness that defined his term in office?”

The Republican Party’s quasi-nominee, who is now all but certain to face the man who ousted him from the White House four years ago, delivered a characteristic victory speech at his Mar-a-Lago beach club in Florida.

In a rambling address to cheering supporters, Trump aired his belief that the US is a “third world country” when it comes to elections and called Biden “the worst president in the history of our country”.

The scripted speeches, predicted headlines and low voter turnout made the biggest day in the 2024 US primary elections a “Stupor Tuesday”. The overriding message after a day that saw 15 states and one US territory select their candidates was clear: many Americans are not enthused by the rematch.

But not everything was predicted and predictable on Super Tuesday. Behind the inexorable Biden v. Trump face-off were key takeaways that will be examined in the lead-up to the November election. 

What’s next for Nikki Haley and her supporters 

Nikki Haley, Trump’s only Republican rival, did not win enough delegates on Super Tuesday to take her anywhere close to the 1,215 needed to secure her party’s presidential nomination.

The 52-year-old former UN ambassador did however snap Vermont, her lone state victory after last week’s Washington DC primary win.

But while her performance was not substantial enough to deny Trump the Republican nomination, it was significant enough to deny him a clean sweep of states.

That’s where the demographics of Haley’s supporters matter, and it’s an electorate that will be much discussed in the months leading up to the November election.

“Her entire campaign centred around those more urban areas where there is a higher concentration of college-educated, university-educated people,” explained FRANCE 24’s Fraser Jackson, reporting from Washington.

Trump’s triumphant showing on Super Tuesday underscored a development that has been in the making over the past few years: the Grand Old Party (GOP) has been taken over by his culturally conservative, blue-collar, non-urban supporters.

But that still leaves a very important demographic up for grabs in the November vote.

“She [Haley] has been polling about 20 to 40 percent of the GOP voters in this primary. That is still a significant chunk of people,” explained Jackson. “That’s a significant chunk of people who say that they don’t want Donald Trump.”

The results in Vermont, a state represented in the Senate by icon of the US left Bernie Sanders, showed that there exists a stubborn chunk of Republican voters who are not as enthusiastic about Trump as expected.

“It’s going to be in those margins that Joe Biden and Donald Trump have to vie for those Nikki Haley voters, to try to pull them to their side,” said Jackson. “And that’s what we’re going to be watching for the next couple of months.”

The question, though, is not just about Haley’s plans after her Super Tuesday drubbing, with pundits debating whether she will endorse Trump.

It’s a matter of whether her supporters are enthused enough about the Democratic candidate to cross party lines.

Biden’s Gaza problem

The Democratic incumbent may have won the Super Tuesday primaries, but that’s because he hardly faced any competition with just a handful of long-shot candidates on the ballots.

In a telling surprise, it was a long-shot candidate that provided some spark in an overwhelmingly dull primaries night. That’s when Baltimore businessman Jason Palmer won the US territory of American Samoa, denying Biden a lone Democratic contest on Super Tuesday.

Residents of American Samoa, as in other US territories, vote in primaries. They do not however have representation in the electoral college, a critical factor in America’s aged, creaky democratic system.

Biden’s biggest problem came from his party’s left, with a protest vote against the US president’s support for Israel drawing the attention of the establishment party’s advisers and strategists.

Exactly a week before Super Tuesday, voters in the Michigan primary delivered a warning shot to Biden, when more than 100,000 people, or 13 percent of all voters, marked their ballots “uncommitted” to show their opposition to the president’s position on the Gaza war. 

A week later, the uncommitted figures were also noteworthy. In Minnesota, with almost 90 percent of the expected votes counted, 19 percent of Democrats marked their ballots “uncommitted” to show their opposition to Biden’s perceived disregard for the Palestinians in Israel’s war against Hamas

The “uncommitted” vote was on the Democratic ballot in six other Super Tuesday states – Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Support in those states ranged from 3.9 percent in Iowa to 12.7 percent in North Carolina, with more than 85 percent of the votes counted in each of those states, according to Edison Research.

The nearly 13 percent mark in North Carolina was significant, noted Jackson. “That is something to watch, because North Carolina is a state that the Democrats are hoping to flip this election,” he explained. “It could be a real battleground state.”

Georgia on their minds

With Biden and Trump sweeping Super Tuesday, the next stop to watch is Georgia, with both candidates heading to the Peach State over the weekend.

While the southeastern US state holds its presidential primaries on March 12 – their official reason for having duelling events there – in reality Georgia is on their minds because of its importance in November’s general election.

On Saturday, Biden plans a visit to the Atlanta area, a rich source of Democratic votes, while Trump will be in the Georgia city of Rome. The events will be their first general election split-screen moment in a key battleground state.

In the 2020 election, Biden beat Trump in Georgia by a miniscule 0.23 percent of the vote and Trump’s efforts to overturn Biden’s win there has since led to the former president’s indictment by the Fulton County district attorney for election interference.

Georgia will again be a critical swing state in the expected rematch between Biden and Trump in November, and so Saturday’s visits by both men will likely be the first of many between now and the general election.

(With Reuters)

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Coast-to-coast Super Tuesday elections set to kick off Biden and Trump rematch

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are poised to move much closer to winning their party’s nominations during the biggest day of the primary campaign on Tuesday, setting up a historic rematch that many voters would rather not endure.

Super Tuesday elections are being held in 16 states and one territory — from Alaska and California to Vermont and Virginia. Hundreds of delegates are at stake, the biggest haul for either party on any single day.

While much of the focus is on the presidential race, there are also important down-ballot contests. California voters will choose candidates who will compete to fill the Senate seat long held by Dianne Feinstein. The governor’s race will take shape in North Carolina, a state that both parties are fiercely contesting ahead of November. And in Los Angeles, a progressive prosecutor is attempting to fend off an intense reelection challenge in a race that could serve as a barometer of the politics of crime.

But the premier races center on Biden and Trump. And in a dramatic departure from past Super Tuesdays, both the Democratic and Republican contests are effectively sealed this year.

The two men have easily repelled challengers in the opening rounds of the campaign and are in full command of their bids — despite polls making it clear that voters don’t want this year’s general election to be identical to the 2020 race. A new AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll finds a majority of Americans don’t think either Biden or Trump has the necessary mental acuity for the job.

“Both of them failed, in my opinion, to unify this country,” said Brian Hadley, 66, of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Neither Trump nor Biden will be able to formally clinch their party’s nominations on Super Tuesday. The earliest either can become his party’s presumptive nominee is March 12 for Trump and March 19 for Biden.

The final days before Tuesday demonstrated the unique nature of this year’s campaign. Rather than barnstorming the states holding primaries, Biden and Trump held rival events last week along the U.S.-Mexico border, each seeking to gain an advantage in the increasingly fraught immigration debate.

After the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 on Monday to restore Trump to primary ballots following attempts to ban him for his role in helping spark the Capitol riot, Trump pointed to the 91 criminal counts against him to accuse Biden of weaponizing the courts. 

“Fight your fight yourself,” Trump said. “Don’t use prosecutors and judges to go after your opponent.” 

State of the Union speech

Biden delivers the State of the Union address on Thursday, then will campaign in the key swing states of Pennsylvania and Georgia.

The president will defend policies responsible for “record job creation, the strongest economy in the world, increased wages and household wealth, and lower prescription drug and energy costs,” White House communications director Ben LaBolt said in a statement. 

That’s in contrast, LaBolt continued, to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement, which consists of “rewarding billionaires and corporations with tax breaks, taking away rights and freedoms, and undermining our democracy.”

Biden’s campaign called extra attention to Trump’s most provocative utterances on the campaign trail, like when he evoked Adolf Hitler in suggesting that immigrants were “poisoning the blood” of the U.S. and said he’d seek to serve as a dictator during his first day back in the White House. 

Trump recently told a gala for Black conservatives that he believed African Americans empathized with his four criminal indictments, drawing a sharp rebuke from the Biden campaign and top Democrats around the country for comparing personal legal struggles to the historical injustices Black people have faced in the U.S.

Trump has nonetheless already vanquished more than a dozen major Republican challengers and now has only one left: Nikki Haley, the former president’s onetime U.N. ambassador who was also twice elected governor of her home state of South Carolina. 

Haley has hopscotched across the country, visiting at least one Super Tuesday state almost daily for more than a week and arguing that her base of support — while far smaller than Trump’s — suggests the former president will lose to Biden.

“We can do better than two 80-year-old candidates for president,” Haley said at a rally Monday in the Houston suburbs.

Haley has maintained strong fundraising and notched her first primary victory over the weekend in Washington, D.C., a Democrat-run city with few registered Republicans. Trump tried to turn that victory into a loss for the overall campaign, scoffing that she had been “crowned queen of the swamp.” 


Though Trump has dominated the early Republican primary calendar, his victories have shown vulnerabilities with some influential voter blocs, especially in college towns like Hanover, New Hampshire, home to Dartmouth College, or Ann Arbor, where the University of Michigan is located, as well as in some areas with high concentrations of independents.

Still, Haley winning any of Super Tuesday’s contests would take an upset. And a Trump sweep would only intensify pressure on her to leave the race.

Biden has his own problems, including low approval ratings and polls suggesting that many Americans, even a majority of Democrats, don’t want to see the 81-year-old running again. The president’s easy Michigan primary win last week was spoiled slightly by an “uncommitted” campaign organized by activists who disapprove of the president’s handling of Israel’s war in Gaza.

Allies of the “uncommitted” vote are pushing similar protest votes elsewhere. One to watch is Minnesota, which has a significant population of Muslims, including in its Somali American community, and liberals disaffected with Biden. Gov. Tim Walz, a Biden ally, told The Associated Press last week that he expected some votes for “uncommitted” on Tuesday.

While Biden is the oldest president in U.S. history, his reelection campaign argues that skeptics will come around once it is clear it’ll be him or Trump in November. Trump is 77 and faces his own questions about age that have been exacerbated by flubs like over the weekend when he mistakenly suggested he was running against Barack Obama.

That hasn’t shaken Trump’s ardent supporters’ faith in him.

“Trump would eat him up,” Ken Ballos, a retired police officer who attended a weekend Trump rally in Virginia, said of a November rematch, adding that Biden “would look like a fool up there.”


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Trump wins South Carolina, easily beating Haley in her home state and closing in on GOP nomination

February 25, 2024 09:23 am | Updated 09:23 am IST – CHARLESTON, S.C.

Donald Trump won South Carolina’s Republican primary on Saturday, easily beating former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley in her home state and further consolidating his path to a third straight GOP nomination.

Mr. Trump has now swept every contest that counted for Republican delegates, adding to previous wins in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Ms. Haley is facing growing pressure to leave the race but says she’s not going anywhere despite losing the state where she was governor from 2011 to 2017.

A 2020 rematch between Trump and President Joe Biden is becoming increasingly inevitable. Ms. Haley has vowed to stay in the race through at least the batch of primaries on March 5, known as Super Tuesday, but was unable to dent Trump’s momentum in her home state despite holding far more campaign events and arguing that the indictments against Mr. Trump will hamstring him against Biden.

The Associated Press declared Mr. Trump the winner as polls closed statewide at 7 p.m. That race call was based on an analysis of AP VoteCast, a comprehensive survey of Republican South Carolina primary voters. The survey confirmed the findings of pre-Election Day polls showing Trump far outpacing Haley statewide.

“I have never seen the Republican Party so unified as it is right now,” he declared, taking the stage for his victory speech mere moments after polls closed. He added, “You can celebrate for about 15 minutes, but then we have to get back to work.”

South Carolina’s first-in-the-South primary has historically been a reliable bellwether for Republicans. In all but one primary since 1980, the Republican winner in South Carolina has gone on to be the party’s nominee. The lone exception was Newt Gingrich in 2012.

Mr. Trump was dominant across the state, even leading in Lexington County, which Ms. Haley represented in the state Legislature. Many Trump-backing South Carolinians, even some who previously supported Haley during her time as governor, weren’t willing to give her a home-state bump.

“She’s done some good things,” Davis Paul, 36, said about Haley as he waited for Trump at a recent rally in Conway. “But I just don’t think she’s ready to tackle a candidate like Trump. I don’t think many people can.”

At Haley headquarters on Saturday night, supporters waved her signs in front of a large projection screen showing Trump’s speech, blocking it from view. That, of course, didn’t make the defeat any less crushing.

About an hour later, Ms. Haley took the stage and said: “What I saw today was South Carolina’s frustration with our country’s direction. I’ve seen that same frustration nationwide.”

“I don’t believe Donald Trump can beat Joe Biden,” she said, later adding: “I said earlier this week that no matter what happens in South Carolina, I would continue to run. I’m a woman of my word.”

She said she plans to head to Michigan for its primary on Tuesday — the last major contest before Super Tuesday. Still, she faces questions about where she might be able to win a contest or be competitive.

Trump and Biden are already behaving like they expect to face off in November.

Trump and his allies argue Biden has made the U.S. weaker and point to the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and Russia’s decision to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Trump has also repeatedly attacked Biden over high inflation earlier in the president’s term and his handling of record-high migrant crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Mr. Trump has questioned — often in harshly personal terms — whether the 81-year-old Biden is too old to serve a second term. Biden’s team in turn has highlighted the 77-year-old Trump’s own flubs on the campaign trail.

President Biden has stepped up his recent fundraising trips around the country and increasingly attacked Trump directly. He’s called Trump and his “Make America Great Again” movement dire threats to the nation’s founding principles, and the president’s reelection campaign has lately focused most of its attention on Trump suggesting he’d use the first day of a second presidency as a dictator and that he’d tell Russia to attack NATO allies who fail to keep up with defense spending obligations mandated by the alliance.

Ms. Haley also criticized Trump on his NATO comments and also for questioning why her husband wasn’t on the campaign trail with her — even as former first lady Melania Trump hasn’t appeared with him. Maj. Michael Haley is deployed in the Horn of Africa on a mission with the South Carolina Army National Guard.

But South Carolina’s Republican voters line up with Trump on having lukewarm feelings about NATO and continued U.S. support for Ukraine, according to AP VoteCast data from Saturday’s primary. About 6 in 10 oppose continuing aid to Ukraine in its fight against Russia. Only about a third described America’s participation in NATO as “very good,” with more saying it’s only “somewhat good.”

Ms. Haley has raised copious amounts of campaign money and is scheduled to begin a cross-country campaign swing on Sunday in Michigan ahead of Super Tuesday on March 5, when many delegate-rich states hold primaries.

But it’s unclear how she can stop Mr. Trump from clinching enough delegates to become the party’s presumptive nominee for the third time.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., complimented Haley while speaking to reporters at Trump’s election night party in Columbia but suggested it was time for her to drop out.

“I think the sooner she does, the better for her, the better for the party,” Mr. Graham said. Later, the senator was greeted with boos after Trump called him to the stage to address those gathered.

Trump’s political strength has endured despite facing 91 criminal charges related to his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden, the discovery of classified documents in his Florida residence and allegations that he secretly arranged payoffs to a porn actress.

The former president’s first criminal trial is set to begin on March 25 in New York, where he faces 34 counts of falsifying business records related to hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels in the closing weeks of his 2016 presidential campaign.

Biden won South Carolina’s Democratic primary earlier this month and faces only one remaining challenger, Dean Phillips. The Minnesota Democratic congressman has continued to campaign in Michigan ahead of the Democratic primary there, despite having little chance of actually beating Biden.

Though Biden is expected to cruise to his party’s renomination, he faces criticism from some Democrats for providing military backing to Israel in its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Some in his party support a ceasefire as the death toll in Israel’s war has reached 30,000 people, two-thirds of them women and children. The war could hurt the president’s general election chances in swing states like Michigan, which is home to a large Arab American population.

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Nikki Haley hasn’t yet won a GOP contest. But she’s vowing to keep fighting Donald Trump

February 20, 2024 09:34 pm | Updated 09:34 pm IST – KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C.

— There are no wins on the horizon for Nikki Haley. Those close to the former United Nations Ambassador, the last major Republican candidate standing in Donald Trump’s path to the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination, are privately bracing for a blowout loss in her home State’s primary election in South Carolina on February 24. And they cannot name a State where she is likely to beat Mr. Trump in the coming weeks.

But ahead of a major address on Feb. 20, Me. Haley told The Associated Press that she will not leave the Republican primary election regardless of Saturday’s result. And backed by the strongest fundraising numbers of her political career, she vowed to stay in the fight against Mr. Trump at least until after Super Tuesday’s slate of more than a dozen contests on March 5.

“Ten days after South Carolina, another 20 States vote. I mean, this isn’t Russia. We don’t want someone to go in and just get 99% of the vote,” Ms. Haley said. “What is the rush? Why is everybody so panicked about me having to get out of this race?”

In fact, some Republicans are encouraging Ms. Haley to stay in the campaign even if she continues to lose — potentially to the Republican National Convention in July. Her continued presence could come in handy if the 77-year-old former president, perhaps the most volatile major party front-runner in U.S. history, becomes a convicted felon or stumbles into another major scandal.

Haley hits back at Trump

As Mr. Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement presses for her exit, a defiant Ms. Haley will outline her rationale for sticking in the race for the foreseeable future. In an interview ahead of the speech, she highlighted Mr. Trump’s legal exposure and criticised MAGA activists who say she’s hurting Mr. Trump’s chances against President Joe Biden in the general election by refusing to drop out.

“That’s about the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. If I get out of the race today, it will be the longest general election in history,” Ms. Haley said. She also pushed back when asked if there is any primary state where she can defeat Mr. Trump. “Instead of asking me what States I’m gonna win, why don’t we ask how he’s gonna win a general election after spending a full year in a courtroom?”

History would suggest Ms. Haley has no chance of stopping Mr. Trump. Never before has a Republican lost even the first two primary contests has gone on the win the party’s presidential nomination. Polls suggest she is a major underdog in her home State and in the 16 Super Tuesday contests to follow. And since he announced his first presidential bid in 2015, every effort by a Republican to blunt Mr. Trump’s rise has failed.

Haley’s spending spree

Yet, she is leaning into the fight. Lest anyone question her commitment, Ms. Haley’s campaign is spending more than $500,000 on a new television advertising campaign set to begin running on Wednesday in Michigan ahead of the State’s Feb. 27 primary, according to spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas.

At the same time, the AP has obtained Ms. Haley’s post-South Carolina travel schedule which features 11 separate stops in seven days across Michigan, Minnesota, Colorado, Utah, Virginia, Washington, D.C., North Carolina and Massachusetts. The schedule also includes at least 10 high-dollar private fundraising events.

Ms. Haley’s expansive base of big- and small-dollar donors is donating at an extraordinary pace despite her underwhelming performance at the polls. That’s a reflection of persistent Republican fears about Mr. Trump’s ability to win over independents and moderate voters in the general election and serious concerns about his turbulent leadership should he return to the White House.

“I’m going to support her up to the convention,” said Republican donor Eric Levine, who co-hosted a New York fundraiser for Ms. Haley earlier this month. “We’re not prepared to fold our tents and pray at the alter of Donald Trump.” “There’s value in her sticking in and gathering delegates, because if and when he stumbles,” he continued, “who knows what happens.” Mr. Levine is far from alone.

Ms. Haley’s campaign raised $5 million in a fundraising swing after her second-place finish in New Hampshire that included stops in Texas, Florida, New York, and California, Perez-Cubas said. Her campaign raised $16.5 million in January alone — her best fundraising month ever — which includes $2 million in small-dollar donations online in the 48 hours after Mr. Trump threatened to “permanently bar” Ms. Haley’s supporters from his MAGA movement.

Ms. Haley raised another $1 million last week in the 24 hours after Trump attacked her husband, a military serviceman currently serving overseas.

The lone member of Congress who has endorsed Ms. Haley, Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., insisted that she would stay in the race even if she is blown out in South Carolina, a State where she lives and served two terms as Governor. “Obviously, you want to win them all, but for those who say it’s going to embarrass her, or end her political career, I disagree. She’s willing to take that risk,” Mr. Norman said in an interview. “I think it’s a courageous thing she’s doing.”

Focus shifts to Super Tuesday primaries

Moving forward, Ms. Haley’s team is especially focused on several Super Tuesday States with open or semi-open Republican primaries that allow a broader collection of voters to participate — especially independents and moderates — instead of just hardcore conservatives.

Mr. Trump, in recent days, has shown flashes of fury in response to Ms. Haley’s refusal to cede the nomination.He called her “stupid” and “birdbrain” in a social media post over the weekend and his campaign released a memo ahead of her speech on Tuesday predicting that she would be forced out of the race after losing her home state on Saturday.

“The true ‘State’ of Nikki Haley’s campaign?” Mr. Trump’s campaign chiefs wrote. “Broken down, out of ideas, out of gas, and completely outperformed by every measure, by Donald Trump.”

Eager to pivot toward a general election matchup against Biden, the Republican former president is taking aggressive steps to assume control of the Republican National Committee, the GOP’s nationwide political machine, which is supposed to stay neutral in presidential primary elections. Last week, Mr. Trump announced plans to install his campaign’s senior adviser Chris LaCivita, as RNC’s chief operating officer and daughter-in-law Lara Trump as the committee’s co-chair.

And there is every expectation that current Chair Ronna McDaniel will step down after Mr. Trump wins South Carolina’s primary and party officials will ultimately acquiesce to Mr. Trump’s wishes. Privately, Ms. Haley’s team concedes there is nothing it can do to stop the Trump takeover.

In the interview, Ms. Haley warned her party against letting Mr. Trump raid the RNC’s coffers to pay for his legal fees while taking a short-term view of Mr. Trump’s political prospects.

Trump’s standing will fundamentally change if he is a convicted felon before Election Day, Ms. Haley said, acknowledging that such an outcome is a very real possibility as Trump navigates 91 felony charges across four separate criminal cases. “People are not looking six months down the road when these court cases have taken place,” Ms. Haley said. “He’s going to be in a courtroom all of March, April, May and June. How in the world do you win a general election when these cases keep going and the judgments keep coming?”

As for her path forward, Ms. Haley said she’s focused only on her plans through Super Tuesday. As for staying in the race through the July convention, she said she hasn’t thought that far ahead.

Some voters wish she would. Gil White, a 75-year-old Republican veteran from James Island, South Carolina, said he was a Trump loyalist until the former president criticized Haley’s husband, a military serviceman, last week. “For him to disparage a military man in deployment is just too much,” he said while attending a rally in support of Ms. Haley in Kiawah Island over the weekend.

He acknowledged concerns about Ms. Haley’s chances against Mr. Trump, but said he wants her to stay in the race even if she continues to lose. “I want the choice,” he said.

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Haley challenges Trump on her home turf in South Carolina as the Republican primary looms

With two weeks to go before the South Carolina Republican primary, Nikki Haley is trying to challenge Donald Trump on her home turf while the former President tries to quash his last major rival for the nomination.

Mr. Trump, turning his campaign focus to the southern state days after an easy victory in Nevada, revved up a huge crowd of supporters at a Saturday afternoon rally in Conway, near Myrtle Beach, by touting his time in office, repeating his false claims that the 2020 election he lost was rigged, maligning a news media he sees as biased against him and lobbing attacks on Haley and President Joe Biden.

In his rally speech, Mr. Trump insulted Ms. Haley by using his derisive nickname for her, “Birdbrain,” and lavished praise on South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, who endorsed him early. Mr. Trump claimed that he selected Ms. Haley to serve as his ambassador to the United Nations in 2017 and represent America on the world stage only because he was motivated to make McMaster — her second-in-command — the governor of South Carolina.

Also read: Trump deploys his playbook against women who bother him

“She did a job. She was fine. She was OK. But I didn’t put her there because I wanted her there at the United Nations,” he said. “I wanted to take your lieutenant governor, who is right here, and make him governor.”

“I wanted him because I felt he deserved it,” Mr. Trump added

Mr. Trump, who has long been the front-runner in the GOP presidential race, won three states in a row and is looking to use South Carolina’s Feb. 24 primary to close out Haley’s chances and turn his focus fully on an expected rematch with Biden in the general election.

Ms. Haley skipped the Nevada caucuses, condemning the contest as rigged for Mr. Trump, and has instead focused on South Carolina, kicking off a two-week bus tour across the state where she served as governor from 2011 to 2017.

Speaking to about a couple hundred people gathered outside a historic opera house in Newberry, Ms. Haley on Saturday portrayed Mr. Trump as an erratic and self-absorbed figure not focused on the American people.

She pointed to the way he flexed his influence over the Republican Party this past week, successfully pressuring GOP lawmakers in Washington to reject a bipartisan border security deal and publicly pressed Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel to consider leaving her job.

“What is happening?” Ms. Haley said. “On that day of all those losses, he had his fingerprints all over it,” she added.

Ms. Haley reprised her questions of Mr. Trump’s mental fitness, an attack she has sharpened since a Jan. 19 speech in which he repeatedly confused her with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Haley, 52, has called throughout her campaign for mental competency tests for politicians, a way to contrast with 77-year-old Trump and 81-year-old Biden.

Editorial | Narrowing field: On 2024 U.S. presidential election’s Republican primaries race

“Why do we have to have someone in their 80s run for office?” she asked. “Why can’t they let go of their power?”

A person in the crowd shouted out: “Because they’re grumpy old men!”

“They are grumpy old men,” Ms. Haley said.

Ms. Haley continued the argument when speaking to reporters afterward, citing a report released Thursday by the special counsel investigating Mr. Biden’s possession of classified documents. The report described Biden’s memory as “poor.”

“American can do better than two 80-year-olds for president,” Ms. Haley said.

Bob Pollard, a retired firefighter, said he cannot support Trump because “he’s a maniac,” adding that Mr. Trump’s campaign, in which he speaks frequently of “retribution” and his personal grievances, has “turned into a personal vendetta.”

Harlie O’Connell, a longtime South Carolina resident who backs Ms. Haley, said she plans to support the eventual GOP nominee but prefers it is someone younger.

“It’s just time for some fresh blood,” O’Connell said.

Her husband, Mike O’Connell, drew a contrast between the candidates’ approach to foreign policy and said he wants the U.S. to continue assisting Ukraine in its war with Russia, as Haley has pledged.

“We need to encourage friendships and not discourage them,” he said of international relations.

Mr. Trump, in his remarks and a social media post on Saturday, criticized foreign aid generally and a plan in Congress to provide nearly $100 billion in aid for Ukraine and Israel. He also repeated his praise for foreign strongmen, calling Russian President Vladimir Putin “very smart, very sharp,” describing Hungary’s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán as ”one of the toughest guys,” and saying Chinese President Xi Jinping is smart because he ”controls 1.4 billion people with an iron fist.”

In one very personal attack, Mr. Trump repeatedly questioned why Ms. Haley’s husband Michael Haley, who is deployed on a yearlong stint in Africa with the South Carolina Army National Guard, hasn’t been on the campaign trail. Mr. Trump, whose own wife, Melania Trump, has not joined him as he campaigns, asked: “What happened to her husband? Where is he? He’s gone. He knew. He knew.”

Ms. Haley responded sharply in a post on X, saying: “Michael is deployed serving our country, something you know nothing about. Someone who continually disrespects the sacrifices of military families has no business being commander in chief.”

Mr. Trump also ramped up his attacks on the media, maligning the press at least a half-dozen times, with the crowd registering their agreement with boos.

He wrapped up with an at times apocalyptic vision of the country, listing ills from dirty, crowded airports to looming nuclear war and, if he loses the election, predicting the stock market would crash like it did in 1929, touching off the Great Depression. He referred to his supporters who were prosecuted for their roles in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol as “hostages” who have been “unfairly imprisoned for long periods of time.”

He made his extended lament while speaking over an instrumental song that QAnon adherents have claimed as their anthem.

In Conway, people began lining up to see Mr. Trump hours before the doors opened to the arena where he was set to take the stage later.

Organizers set up outside screens for an overflow crowd to watch.

The city sits along the Grand Strand, a broad expanse of South Carolina’s northern coast that is home to Myrtle Beach and Horry County, one of the most reliably conservative spots in the state and a central area of Mr. Trump’s base of support in the state in his past campaigns.

Tim Carter, from nearby Murrells Inlet, said he had backed Mr. Trump since 2016 and would do so again this year.

“We’re here to stand for Mr. Trump, get our economy better, shut our border down, more jobs for our people,” said Carter, a pastor and military veteran who runs an addiction recovery ministry.

Cheryl Savage from Conway, who was waiting on the bleachers to hear from Mr. Trump, said the former president is “here to help us.” Savage said she backed Ms. Haley during her first run for governor in 2010 but now feels she is hurting herself by staying in the race.

“He deserves a second term,” Savage said, of Mr. Trump. “He did a fantastic job for four years.”

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Nikki Haley is trounced by the ‘none of these candidates’ option in Nevada’s Republican primary

Nikki Haley was swamped in Nevada’s symbolic Republican presidential primary as GOP voters resoundingly picked the “none of these candidates” option on the ballot in a repudiation of the former UN ambassador who is the last remaining major rival to front-runner Donald Trump.

Mr. Trump didn’t compete in Tuesday’s primary, which doesn’t award any delegates needed to win the GOP nomination. The former President is instead focused on caucuses that will be held on Thursday and will help him move closer to becoming the Republican standard-bearer.

That leaves the results on Tuesday as technically meaningless in the Republican race. But they still amount to an embarrassment for Ms. Haley, who has sought to position herself as a candidate who can genuinely compete against Mr. Trump. Instead, she became the first presidential candidate from either party to lose a race to “none of these candidates” since that option was introduced in Nevada in 1975.

Ms. Haley had said beforehand she was going to “focus on the States that are fair” and did not campaign in the western State in the weeks leading up to the caucuses, spending time instead in her home State, South Carolina, before its February 24 primary. Her campaign wrote off the results with a reference to Nevada’s famous casino industry.

“Even Donald Trump knows that when you play penny slots the house wins,” spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said. “We did not bother to play a game rigged for Trump. We’re full steam ahead in South Carolina and beyond.” Mr. Trump joked on his social media network, “Watch, she’ll soon claim Victory!”

Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo, a Republican, had announced beforehand that he would vote for “none of these candidates” on Tuesday. Several Republicans interviewed heading to the polls said they intended to do the same.

Washoe County Republican Party Chair Bruce Parks, who pushed for the GOP to hold caucuses, said that he told voters who called his office — and Trump supporters — to participate in the primary by voting for “none of these candidates” over Haley.

“They basically told us they don’t care about us,” Mr. Parks said in an interview after the race was called. “By marking ‘none of these candidates,’ we respond in kind — we don’t care about you either.”

Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald, a Trump ally who faces state charges for serving as a so-called “fake elector” on the former President’s behalf, said he left it to each county GOP chairman to decide if they wanted to promote “none of these candidates.” He said Ms. Haley’s seeming disrespect of Nevada voters was “reciprocated” with the results.

The Associated Press declared “none of these candidates” the winner at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday based on initial vote results that showed it with a significant lead over Ms. Haley in seven counties across the State, including in the two most populous counties.

There was also a Democratic primary on Tuesday that President Joe Biden easily won against author Marianne Williamson and a handful of less-known challengers. Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota was not on the ballot.

Mr. Biden issued a statement thanking Nevada voters for their support and, with an eye toward an expected matchup in November, warned that Trump is trying to divide America.

“I want to thank the voters of Nevada for sending me and Kamala Harris to the White House four years ago, and for setting us one step further on that same path again tonight. We must organize, mobilize, and vote. Because one day, when we look back, we’ll be able to say, when American democracy was a risk, we saved it — together,” Mr. Biden said.

Nevada lawmakers added “none of these candidates” as an option in all statewide races as a way post-Watergate for voters to participate but express dissatisfaction with their choices. “None” can’t win an elected office but it came in first in primary congressional contests in 1976 and 1978. It also finished ahead of both George Bush and Edward Kennedy in Nevada’s 1980 presidential primaries.

The caucuses on Thursday are the only Nevada contest that count toward the GOP’s presidential nomination. But they were seen as especially skewed in favour of Mr. Trump because of the intense grassroots support they require from candidates and new state party rules that benefitted him further.

Trump is expected to win

Mr. Trump is expected to handily win the caucuses, which should deliver him all 26 of the State’s delegates. Delegates are party members, activists and elected officials who vote at the national party conventions to formally select the party’s nominee.

“If your goal is to win the Republican nomination for president, you go where the delegates are. And it baffles me that Nikki Haley chose not to participate,” Mr. Trump’s senior campaign adviser Chris LaCivita said in an interview before the primary.

Nevada, the third State in the field after Iowa and New Hampshire, was set to hold a state-run primary election instead of party-run caucuses after Democrats controlling the Legislature changed the law to try to boost participation.

Caucuses typically require voters to show up for an in-person meeting at a certain day or time, while elections can offer more flexibility to participate, with polls open for most of the day on Election Day, along with absentee or early voting.

But Nevada Republicans chose to hold party-run caucuses instead, saying they wanted certain rules in place, like a requirement that participants show a government-issued ID. The caucuses require a candidate to intensely organise supporters around the state in order to be competitive, a feat that Mr. Trump, the former president and prohibitive front-runner, was easily positioned to do.

The Nevada GOP also restricted the involvement of super PACs like the one Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was relying on to boost his now-suspended campaign. And the party barred candidates from appearing both on the primary ballot and in the caucuses.

Former Vice President Mike Pence and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott also signed up to compete in Nevada’s primary instead of the caucuses before ending their presidential campaigns.

Jeff Turner, 65, came to the Reno Town Mall with a ballot checked off for “none of these candidates” while also lamenting the increasingly likely November rematch between Biden and Trump.

“I think it’s my duty,” Mr. Turner said. “I think we all have the right to vote, we ought to vote. And even if it’s none of these candidates, it’s at least stating where I’m at. And I’m hoping others will see that.”

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Donald Trump mocks Nikki Haley’s first name; refers to her by her first name

Former U.S. President Donald Trump has lobbed racially charged attacks at his Indian-American Republican rival Nikki Haley by repeatedly referring to her as “Nimbra”, in an apparent intentional misspelling of her birth name.

Mr. Trump’s attack against Ms. Haley, a daughter of Indian immigrants who served as his U.N. Ambassador, comes days before a hotly contested New Hampshire primary that could determine the trajectory of the party’s Presidential nomination contest.

Editorial | Early lead: On Donald Trump’s big win in Iowa caucuses

Ms. Haley, 52, whose parents moved to the United States in the 1960s, was born to Nimarata Nikki Randhawa.

The former South Carolina Governor has long used her middle name Nikki and adopted the surname Haley after her marriage in 1996.

But Mr. Trump, 77, repeatedly referred to Ms. Haley as “Nimbra” in a rant on his Truth Social account, adding her to the list of foes he has targeted with racist attacks.

He also insisted she “doesn’t have what it takes” to be President.

Reminiscent of his spurious claims about former President Barack Obama’s citizenship, Mr. Trump also last week spread a false “birther” claim about Ms. Haley when he shared a post on Truth Social from the Gateway Pundit, a far-right website that propagates baseless accusations, The Washington Post newspaper reported.

The post falsely suggested Ms. Haley was ineligible to be President or Vice-President because her parents were not U.S. citizens when she was born, it said.

The U.S. Constitution states that a natural-born citizen can be President, and Ms. Haley automatically became a U.S. citizen when she was born in South Carolina in 1972.

Mr. Trump’s use of Ms. Haley’s birth name comes as the topic of racism has emerged as a flash point among Republicans on the campaign trail, with Ms. Haley recently asserting that the United States is not and never was a racist nation, the newspaper said.

Friday wasn’t the first time Mr. Trump has mocked Ms. Haley’s name. After the Iowa caucuses on Monday, Mr. Trump embarked on a tirade against Ms. Haley, misspelling her first name.

“Anyone listening to Nikki ‘Nimrada’ Haley’s whacked-out speech last night, would think that she won the Iowa Primary,” Mr. Trump wrote on Truth Social. “She didn’t, and she couldn’t even beat a very flawed Ron DeSanctimonious, who’s out of money, and out of hope. Nikki came in a distant THIRD!” DeSanctimonious is a Trump nickname for another Republican rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Ms. Haley repeatedly stated that she has always gone by her middle name, which in Punjabi means “little one,” and that she changed her last name to Ms. Haley after marrying her husband, Michael Ms. Haley.

Mr. Trump, whose mother migrated to the United States from Scotland, has a history of using a rival’s name or background as a tool in his efforts to make rivals sound like they are not fully American.

During the 2016 presidential race, he referred to Senator Ted Cruz, who was then a Republican presidential candidate, by his first name, Rafael.

He also repeatedly mispronounced and drew out the first name of Kamala Harris, now the Vice-President, on the 2020 campaign trail.

Mr. Trump also built favour with the extreme right of the Republican Party when, in 2011, he began floating racist and baseless claims about Mr. Obama not being born in the United States, and he frequently emphasised Mr. Obama’s middle name, Hussein.

Civil rights leaders denounced Mr. Trump’s remarks as a racist appeal to White people, who make up more than 92% of the population in New Hampshire, according to the latest census figures.

Elder James Johnson, head of the Racial Justice Network in South Carolina, said on Jan. 19 that Mr. Trump’s remarks are his way of saying “she is not one of us, that she is a Brown person, that she is not a White person.” By referencing the birth name Ms. Haley has not used in public life, Mr. Trump is “sending a message to white nationalists,” said Mr. Johnson, who offered that he is “not a fan” of Ms. Haley overall.

Another civil rights activist said the racism behind Mr. Trump’s behaviour is obvious.

“Why is he actually even using this name? What purpose does it serve?” asked Anthony Poore, president and CEO of the New Hampshire Centre for Justice and Equity, a racial and social justice organisation.

Mr. Poore said Mr. Trump’s record — dating back to when he and his father were found guilty of housing discrimination against Black people, to attacks on Obama’s place of birth — makes clear what he is doing.

Asked on Jan. 19 on the campaign trail if Mr. Trump’s attacks against her are racist, Ms. Haley said in New Hampshire that she would “let the people decide” what the former President means.

“He’s clearly insecure. If he goes and does these temper tantrums, if he’s going and spending millions of dollars on TV, he’s insecure, he knows that something’s wrong,” Ms. Haley said. “I don’t sit there and worry about whether it’s personal or what he means by it.” The attacks on Ms. Haley come as she has continued to defend the notion that the United States is not a “racist country” and has “never been a racist country.” “Are we perfect? No,” Ms. Haley said on Fox News on Jan. 16. “But our goal is to always make sure we try and be more perfect every day that we can.” Ms. Haley’s father, Ajit Singh Randhawa, is a professor of biology who got his Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia and later moved to Bamberg, a segregated town where Ms. Haley was born, to teach at nearby Voorhees College — a historically Black university.

Ms. Haley told Fox News that although she faced racism as a “Brown girl that grew up in a small rural town in South Carolina,” she became “the first female minority Governor in history, who became a U.N. Ambassador and who is now running for President.” “If that’s not the American Dream, I don’t know what is,” Ms. Haley continued. “You can sit there and give me all the reasons why you think I can’t do this. I will continue to defy everybody on why we can do this, and we will get it done.” In an interview with CNN, she acknowledged that America had its “stains” but said that “national self-loathing” was “killing” the United States.

“I want every Brown and Black child to see that and say, ‘No, I don’t live in a country that was formed on racism. I live in a country where they wanted all people to be equal, and to make sure that they had life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,’” Ms. Haley said.

When asked about Mr. Trump repeatedly referring to Ms. Haley as “Nimbra,” Mr. Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said in an email to The Washington Post, “Can you tell me how [Trump’s Truth Social] post would even be construed as racist?” When provided with a list of examples of how Mr. Trump has tried to “otherize” his foes by emphasising their race or background, Mr. Cheung added, “Sounds like those who take offence are engaging in faux outrage racism. They should get a life and live in the real world.”

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Trump, Haley, DeSantis campaign in Iowa in the final days before the Republican caucuses

Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley pushed across ice-cold Iowa on January 13 to find voters open to an alternative to former President Donald Trump with just two days before the State’s caucuses open the Republican primary calendar.

Mr. Trump, the heavy front-runner in the caucuses, opted for “tele-rallies” after cancelling larger in-person events due to a blizzard blanketing much of the State, but he remained confident as he looks for a big victory to blunt the potential rise of any rival.

Shortly after arriving in Des Moines, Mr. Trump held a livestreamed town hall-style event hosted by Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird, one of his top backers in Iowa. “It’s nasty out there,” he said, commenting on Iowa’s icy conditions. He confessed to some worry that weather could dampen turnout on Jan. 15, but said his supporters will “walk over glass” to support him.

Haley, DeSantis fight for second spot

Perhaps more important than the margin of Mr. Trump’s expected victory is whether either of his remaining top rivals can claim a clear second-place finish and gain momentum as the race moves forward to New Hampshire and other States.

The final Des Moines Register/NBC News poll before the caucuses found Mr. Trump maintaining a formidable lead, supported by nearly half of likely caucusgoers. Meanwhile, Ms. Haley and Mr. DeSantis garnered 20% and 16% support respectively.

Ms. Haley, the former U.N. ambassador and South Carolina governor, and Mr. DeSantis, the Florida governor, remain locked in a close battle for second.

Mr. Trump is also viewed more favourably than the other top contenders by likely caucusgoers, at 69% compared with 58% for Mr. DeSantis and just 48% for Ms. Haley.

Mr. Trump’s modified schedule gave Mr. DeSantis and Ms. Haley a chance to see more voters across the state on Jan. 13. Mr. DeSantis, in particular, is under pressure in Iowa, given his campaign’s heavy bet on a strong finish in the caucuses.

Candidates make final pitch

“You’re going to pack so much more punch on Monday night than in any other election you’ll ever be able to participate in,” the Florida governor told about 60 voters at his first event in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on the western edge of the State.

A person takes a photo as Florida Gov. Ron Desantis speaks to a packed room on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024.
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Mr. DeSantis is hoping for more voters like Michael Durham, a former Trump supporter who plans to caucus for him on Monday night. “He’s just kind of no-nonsense,” said Mr. Durham, a 47-year-old from Council Bluffs. He praised Mr. DeSantis for opening Florida schools during the Covid-19 pandemic and challenging federal power. “He doesn’t make any apologies for the way he thinks.”

Other Iowans showed why Mr. DeSantis and Ms. Haley still have work to do in their respective final pushes.

Courtney Raines, a teacher, came to hear Ms. Haley on Jan. 13morning and planned to see Mr. DeSantis later in the day. “I’d like to know how she’s going to handle the border crisis and mitigate the racial divide,” said Ms. Raines, who expressed concern about divisions in American society.

Americans for Prosperity, the political arm of the conservative Koch Brothers’ network, canvassed the state through the winter storm on Ms. Haley’s behalf.

Patti Parlee, a 65-year-old accountant from Urbandale, was among the Iowans visited at home on Jan. 13 by AFP. But Ms. Parlee said she is choosing between Mr. Trump and Mr. DeSantis and likely won’t decide until Jan. 15 night when she will hear the two candidates’ representatives make a pitch at her caucus site.

“That’s what the caucuses are all about is people get to speak for their candidates,” she said. “And we have to keep in mind: This isn’t the final election. It goes on from here.”

Ms. Parlee argued that Mr. DeSantis has not gotten fair treatment from political media, while Mr. Trump has not been treated fairly by prosecutors who have charged him in four separate criminal cases. She said she loved Mr. Trump’s policies during his administration, but thinks he sometimes acts like a “fifth-grader.”

“I almost want to vote DeSantis just to say yes, he should be getting more support than it seems like he is,” she said. “I almost want to vote Trump just to say: We know that all this bullcrap out there is bullcrap.”

In Des Moines, Mr. Trump hit out at Ms. Haley for “working with” the Koch network. Ms. Haley was measured in her criticisms of Mr. Trump, in an attempt to appeal to Republicans who favour the former president, moderate Republicans and independents.

Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks at a campaign event, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, in Iowa City, Iowa.

Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks at a campaign event, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, in Iowa City, Iowa.
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Speaking in the liberal college town of Iowa City on Jan. 13, Ms. Haley drew enthusiastic applause when she hit her signature line aimed at raising doubts about Mr. Trump: “Chaos follows him. You know I’m right. We can’t defeat Democratic chaos with Republican chaos.”

It struck Julie Slinger, who voted for Mr. Trump in 2016, but then for President Joe Biden, a Democrat, in the 2020 general election. Mr. Trump is “a disaster waiting to happen. A time bomb,” the 57-year-old accountant said. “Even if you like Trump, he is going to be crippled by this mayhem swirling around him.”

Ms. Haley’s appearance in Iowa City, part of the State’s most Democratic county, highlights the wide net she is casting. Ms. Slinger entered the event undecided. She left committed to Ms. Haley.

Mr. DeSantis and Ms. Haley held back-to-back events a few miles apart in Davenport on Jan. 13 evening, making little mention of the other to their friendly crowds. They’ll both travel north to Dubuque on Jan. 14.

Mr. Trump is looking for as wide a margin of victory as possible in Iowa. His aides say the former president can become the presumptive nominee early in the primary calendar with comfortable victories that keep Mr. DeSantis and Ms. Haley from mounting a sustained threat. Alternately, his advisers have privately reminded reporters that no Republican presidential candidate has won a contested Iowa caucus by more than 12 points since Bob Dole in 1988.

Before Mr. Trump’s late arrival on Jan. 13, Kari Lake, the failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate who is now running for Senate, paid a visit to the campaign’s Urbandale, Iowa, campaign headquarters, where dozens of volunteers were gathered making calls. “The Republican caucus that’s going to happen on Monday night is going to send a shockwave. We’re going to see such huge numbers,” said Ms. Lake, who grew up in Iowa.

Bad weather

After days of storm conditions, Monday’s weather is expected to be the coldest for any caucus day in history, with temperatures falling below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-17C) when Republicans are supposed to head to caucus sites.

Aides for multiple campaigns and longtime Iowa political observers have suggested the weather could sharply depress turnout. Republican caucus turnout peaked at more than 1,80,000 in 2016, Mr. Trump’s first campaign. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won the caucuses narrowly that year. Mr. Trump’s campaign has put considerably more effort this time into building a caucus turnout structure.

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