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editorial
Editorials
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Trump, unstoppable

Candidate Nikki Haley can only hope to torpedo the mogul’s triumphant path to the Republican nomination

Republican nomination candidate Nikki Haley, on Tuesday in Concord, New Hampshire.
Republican nomination candidate Nikki Haley, on Tuesday in Concord, New Hampshire.BRANDON BELL (Getty Images via AFP)
El País

Nikki Haley, the only candidate left to challenge Donald Trump for the Republican nomination for the presidential elections, announced on Tuesday night, after losing by 11 points against the magnate in the New Hampshire primary, that she is not planning to quit and will remain in the race. The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, made similar statements after coming in second in the Iowa caucuses on January 15. Four days later, he withdrew and endorsed the candidate who had so viciously insulted him.

Haley’s challenge attempts to give some perspective to the many conservatives who are desperately seeking to turn the page on a toxic character who has damaged the party’s leadership and principles. The reality is that Haley can no longer reasonably hope to beat Trump, only to torpedo his triumphant ascent as much as she can, perhaps in the hopes that his judicial troubles will derail the campaign.

Donald Trump is the first candidate in half a century to win the first two Republican nomination contests. The New Hampshire voter is more moderate than the Iowa voter and votes at the ballot box, not in an assembly. That is why Trump’s victory is impressive: he is the favorite among two very different groups of Republicans. Iowa alone is not an indicator of what the rest of the country thinks like, but the two states together send an unmistakable signal of where the majority of the party stands. Surveys in other key states confirm this trend. On this trajectory, Trump is de facto unstoppable.

Haley appears to have the financial backing to reach the primary in South Carolina (February 24), the state where she was once governor. The campaign now enters a fallow month in which the fight will be played out in the media, Trump’s favorite terrain. A loss in South Carolina would put Haley in an impossible position to justify.

The Republicans who at this point continue to fund or vote for Haley do so because they truly hate the idea of a third Trump candidacy, not just for ideological reasons or pure decency, but out of pragmatism. The hope of Republican anti-Trumpism lies in demonstrating that, even if they are not the majority, there are still many of them (44% in New Hampshire, including many independents without whom the White House cannot be won). It is the only argument Haley has left to hold on to: Trump may have control over the majority of the party, but he is incapable of beating Joe Biden because he will never gain a sufficiently broad spectrum of voters and, furthermore, his presence triggers a hyper-mobilization of the Democrats. All precedents indicate that this is the case. Democrats themselves agree with Haley. Biden’s re-election campaign is already asking for money and votes, assuming that Trump will be the candidate to beat. Their argument? Democracy is at stake.

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