Nikki Haley Pledges to Continue Campaign Despite Resounding South Carolina Loss

After a disappointing 20-point primary loss in her home state of South Carolina on Saturday, Nikki Haley pledged to soldier on, even as former President Donald Trump appears to have all but secured the GOP nomination.

Addressing a crowd of hundreds of supporters at her headquarters in Charleston, Haley briefly appeared to be gearing up to announce that she was dropping out of the race. “This has never been about me or my political future. We need to beat Joe Biden in November,” she said before adding, to her supporters’ relief: “I don’t believe Donald Trump can beat Joe Biden.”

After Haley lost to Trump in New Hampshire in late January, the former South Carolina governor said she felt she would need a better result in her home state in order “to give people in Super Tuesday states a reason to see and have us fight on.” 

Haley’s Saturday result—just under 40 percent—fell below that mark (she won 43 percent of the vote in New Hampshire). In her speech, she appeared to fudge the numbers, saying she won “around” 40 percent, which was “about” the size of her tally in New Hampshire.

Earlier last week, Haley vowed to continue campaigning until “the last person votes,” and on Saturday, she declared, “Today is not the end of our story.”

“I’m not giving up this fight when a majority of Americans disapprove of both Trump and Biden,” she wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “In the next ten days, 21 states and territories will speak. They have the right to a real choice, not a Soviet-style election with only one candidate. And I have a duty to give them that choice.”

But her comments hint that she may not last past early March, when voters in 15 states and one territory will head to the polls on Super Tuesday. In a comment to reporters after she cast her own vote Saturday, Haley said Super Tuesday was “as far as I’ve thought in terms of going forward,” per Politico.

Haley is traveling to Michigan on Sunday, which hosts its primary on Tuesday, and then will hit at least six more states. Her campaign announced Friday that it would be launching a seven-figure ad buy ahead of the March 5 primaries.

Trump, for his part, is already acting as if the GOP nomination is already a foregone conclusion. In stark contrast to his New Hampshire victory speech, in which he relentlessly bashed Haley, the GOP frontrunner didn’t even utter his chief rival’s name on Saturday. “I have never seen the Republican Party so unified,” he said in a victory speech.

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