Haley fights on as polls point to big Trump win in South Carolina

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Nikki Haley slammed Donald Trump on Tuesday and rejected calls to suspend her presidential campaign, saying she felt “no need to kiss the ring” and endorse his bid for the White House.

“I refuse to quit,” Haley said in a speech in her home state of South Carolina, where the next big Republican primary election will be held this weekend. She also referred to the former president as “unstable and unhinged”.

“South Carolina will vote on Saturday. But on Sunday, I’ll still be running for president,” added Haley, who was governor of the state from 2011 to 2017. “I’m not going anywhere.”

Haley has outlasted more than a dozen Republicans and continues to pull in money from deep-pocketed donors willing to underwrite her campaign. But her path to the White House continues to narrow, with opinion polls showing her well behind Trump.

A new Suffolk University/USA Today poll of likely primary voters published on Tuesday showed Trump ahead of Haley in South Carolina by 63 per cent to 35 per cent.

After South Carolina’s primary, the next significant date on the electoral calendar will be Super Tuesday on March 5, when voters in more than a dozen states will head to the polls. Haley has vowed to keep campaigning through at least Super Tuesday.

But Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles, senior advisers to Trump’s 2024 campaign, issued a memo on Tuesday insisting “the end is near” for Haley. Citing public and private polling data, LaCivita and Wiles said Trump was on course to rack up enough delegates to win the Republican nomination by mid-March.

“Before March Madness tips off next month, President Trump will be the Republican nominee for President,” the strategists wrote, referring to the US college basketball tournament’s nickname. They added that Haley’s campaign was “broken down, out of ideas, out of gas, and completely outperformed by every measure”.

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Haley served as Trump’s first ambassador to the UN and began her bid for the presidency more than a year ago by avoiding directly attacking him. But she has sharpened her criticisms in recent weeks, especially as the Republican presidential field became a two-person race.

Trump has since secured the endorsement of nearly all of the other Republicans who had suspended their presidential campaigns, including South Carolina senator Tim Scott.

On Tuesday, Haley suggested she would not follow suit and rejected claims that she would be willing to serve as Trump’s vice-president.

“Many of the same politicians who now publicly embrace Trump privately dread him,” Haley said. “They know what a disaster he’s been and will continue to be for our party. They’re just too afraid to say it out loud. 

“I feel no need to kiss the ring. And I have no fear of Trump’s retribution,” she added. “I’m not looking for anything from him. My own political future is of zero concern.”

Haley also accused Trump of “getting meaner and more offensive by the day”. She added: “I’ve dealt with bullies my entire life. They don’t intimidate me.”

But Haley started crying on Tuesday when she talked about her husband, Michael Haley, who is stationed overseas with the Army National Guard. At a rally earlier this month in South Carolina, Trump mocked Michael Haley and asked where he was.

Nikki Haley said on Tuesday that her husband was “at the front” of her mind and “fighting for the country he loves”.

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