Nikki Haley vows to keep fighting for Republican nomination despite New Hampshire loss

The former ambassador to the U.N. and ex-governor of South Carolina is challenging Donald Trump to a long battle: ‘This race is far from over’

Nikki Haley New Hampshire
Nikki Haley in Concord (New Hampshire) on Tuesday.FAITH NINIVAGGI (REUTERS)
Miguel Jiménez

Nikki Haley isn’t throwing in the towel. The former ambassador to the United Nations and former governor of South Carolina was defeated by Donald Trump in the New Hampshire primary, but has vowed to keep fighting. “New Hampshire is first-in-the-nation, it is not last-in-the-nation. This race is far from over, there are dozens of states left to go, and the next one is my sweet state of South Carolina,” she said on Tuesday at the presidential primary election night rally at a hotel in Concord, the capital of New Hampshire, where she challenged Trump to a long battle for the Republican nomination.

New Hampshire is the state where Nikki Haley, Trump’s only remaining rival after the withdrawal of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, had the best prospects. Having failed to win the G.O.P. nomination in this relatively moderate state, where she had the enthusiastic support of Governor Chris Sununu and where independent voters had the possibility of participating in the Republican primaries, it will be more difficult for her to win in the rest of the country.

Donald Trump had noted on Monday that the Republican primary race had started with more than a dozen candidates and that there were only two left. “And I think one person will probably leave tomorrow,” he stressed, referring to a possible withdrawal by Haley. The former president’s rival, however, is not planning to do so.

“At one point in this campaign, there were 14 of us running, and we were at 2% in the polls. Well I’m a fighter, and I’m scrappy, and now we’re the last ones standing next to Donald Trump,” she told her audience. “And today we got close to half of the vote. We still have a ways to go, but we keep moving up.” At the time of her speech, a little over 20% of the votes had been counted and preliminary results were showing 44% support for her compared with 54.5% for Trump.

The former president quickly lashed out at his opponent. “A very bad night for Nikki ‘Birdbrain’ Haley, but not as bad as last week in Iowa, where she came in a DISTANT THIRD,” he wrote on his social media platform Truth Social. Meanwhile, Haley used her Concord speech to start campaigning for the upcoming primaries. “For a lot of people, politics is way too personal. It’s not personal for me. I voted for Trump twice. I was proud to serve America in his Cabinet. I agree with many of his policies. I decided to run because I’m worried about the future of our country and because it’s time to put the negativity and chaos behind us.”

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during her New Hampshire presidential primary election night rally, in Concord, NH.
Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during her New Hampshire presidential primary election night rally, in Concord, NH.BRIAN SNYDER (REUTERS)

“We have an economy that’s crushing middle-class Americans, we have a border that is totally open and dangerous, creating a disaster in our country, we have schools that are failing too many of our children and we have a world on fire with a war in Europe and in the Middle East and a huge and growing threat from China,” she said. “And then you look at Washington, D.C. We have a Congress that fights about everything and accomplishes nothing. And we have Joe Biden in the White House making one bad decision after another...when he’s making any decisions at all. Our country’s in a real mess, and the question is, who’s going to fix it?”

Haley noted that with Trump, Republicans have lost nearly all competitive elections. “We lost the Senate, we lost the House, we lost the White House, we lost in 2018, we lost in 2020 and we lost in 2022. The worst-kept secret in politics is how badly the Democrats want to run against Donald Trump. They know Trump is the only Republican in the country who Joe Biden can defeat. You can’t fix the mess if you don’t win an election. A Trump nomination is a Biden win and a Kamala Harris presidency.”

For Republicans, the next stage of the primaries is Nevada, but the voting system there is somewhat confusing. There is a primary on February 6 and a caucus two days later. Until 2020 there was only the caucus, but due to the chaotic vote counting process that year, in 2021 a state law mandated a primary must also be held. However, the Republican Party rebelled and continues to hold caucuses, awarding delegates based on them. Haley is on the primary ballot, but is not participating in the caucus. Trump is in the opposite situation: he is running in the caucus, but not in the primary.

After Nevada, on February 24 South Carolina will hold a primary. This is Haley’s home state, but Trump has solid support and is the clear favorite there.

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