Voters speak: It's time for Nikki Haley to go

 February 25, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley's defeat in the South Carolina primary on Saturday was always a foregone conclusion. Moments after polls in the state closed at 7 p.m., Fox News projected former President Donald Trump to be the winner. By 10:00 p.m., with over 80% of the votes counted, Trump was ahead by over 21 points.

Through the end of January, Haley had trailed the former president by roughly 30 points in the polling averages. In the weeks leading up to the South Carolina primary, the margins began to tighten, as they typically do once voters start to engage. The final RealClearPolitics average of polls showed Trump's lead had narrowed to 23.3 points as voters headed out on Saturday morning.

Shortly after the race was called, Trump delivered his victory speech. In his signature fashion, he told supporters it was a "bigger win than we anticipated." And he predicted victory against President Joe Biden. "We're going to be up here on November 5th, and we're going to look at Joe Biden and he's destroying our country and we're going to say, Joe, get out, Joe, you're fired," he said. "Joe, you're destroying our country."

He said the "border is the worst it's ever been. We're going to fix it – fix it very quickly."

Fox News exit polls found that immigration was the top issue for nearly half of the voters in the South Carolina primary, just as it had been for those in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Trump did not mention Haley in his remarks. However, when asked by Fox News Digital afterward if Haley should quit, he replied that he's "really not thinking about that. … I'm not thinking about it."

"I'm thinking about we have to beat Joe Biden," he said. "I don't know if she's in the race at all, because, you know, I have set records in every single state. I'm not sure that she's really in the race."

Nevertheless, in remarks to supporters, Haley repeated her vow to remain in the race. "I'm a woman of my word," she said. "I'm not giving up this fight when a majority of Americans disapprove of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden."

Haley finished third in Iowa and lost to Trump by double digits in New Hampshire, a state where she had spent considerable time and money. She even lost to "none of the above" in Nevada, by a whopping 33 points. And now she has been resoundingly defeated by 22 points in her home state, a state where she had served twice as governor.

Last week, the New Yorker's Antonia Hitchens made the case that Haley "lost the South Carolina primary back when she was still governor." She wrote: "In her home state, Haley came to power as an outsider and never won over the good ol' boys of the local Republican establishment. Now they're supporting Trump."

Hitchens turned out to be right: Except for Rep. Ralph Norman, R.-S.C., who endorsed Haley shortly after she announced her candidacy in February 2023, Republican leaders in the state-backed Trump. Supporters include the state's governor, both senators and most congressmen.

Considering that Haley is trailing Trump nationally by an average of 58 points, her odds of capturing the GOP presidential nomination are almost nil. And by remaining on the campaign trail, she is widely seen as hurting both Trump and the Republicans' chances of taking back the White House.

Haley's relentless attacks on Trump's age and the chaos that follows him are merely handing fodder to the Democrats, who will use it to boost Biden – or whoever they might pick to replace him. She also appears oblivious to the fact that most of the chaos surrounding Trump has been created by the Democrats' efforts to bury him.

Haley's campaign is being kept afloat in part by donations from anti-Trumpers inside the GOP as well as by Democrats. Last week, Politico reported that "[m]ore than 5,200 donors to Biden's 2020 campaign have backed Haley financially, including roughly 1,600 who gave more than $500,000 in January alone."

At a recent rally, Haley even encouraged Democrats who did not vote in the party's Feb. 3 primary to cast a ballot for her on Saturday.

As the South Carolina primary results attest, Trump seems to have overcome the one misstep he made with Haley when, speaking to supporters at a Conway, South Carolina, rally earlier this month, he said: "Then she comes over to see me at Mar-a-Lago. 'Sir, I will never run against you.' She brought her husband. Where's your husband? Oh, he's away. He's away. What happened to her husband? What happened to her husband? Where is he? He's gone! He knew. He knew."

Haley's husband, Michael, a major in the South Carolina National Guard, is currently serving a yearlong deployment in Djibouti. Haley responded to Trump's remarks at a rally of her own: "I am proud of Michael's service. Every military spouse knows it's a family sacrifice. … If you mock the service of a combat veteran, you don't deserve a driver's license, let alone being president of the United States," Haley said. According to the Wall Street Journal, in the 48 hours after this exchange, the Haley campaign received $1 million from donors.

Although Haley prevailed in that particular skirmish, it was a minor victory at best. Haley stays in the race because she can, and despite her dismal performance in the primaries to date, donations have continued to pour in. Time will tell what her donors will do after this latest devastating defeat.

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