Nikki Haley Still Isn’t Quitting - The World News

Nikki Haley Still Isn’t Quitting

Nikki Haley lost badly in Iowa and New Hampshire. In Nevada on Tuesday, she ran unopposed in an irrelevant primary and finished behind “None of These Candidates.” But she is still trying to broaden voters’ imagination of what’s possible, both for her prospects in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, and for the nation.

She has money in the bank, a strategy to expand the Republican base and a new unabashedly adversarial stance toward former President Donald Trump.

Yet she is coming up against tough electoral math, and a Republican base that seems determined to nominate Trump for the third time.

Mike Noble, a pollster who works in Arizona and Nevada, noted that about seven in 10 Republicans nationally say they don’t believe that Trump actually lost in 2020.

To those voters, Trump is “a two-time winner now going for a three-peat,” Noble said. “Basically you’re holding out for a Hail Mary.”

To pull out an unlikely victory, Haley, the former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador, must secure the support of 1,215 G.O.P. delegates — a count that, as of now, stands at 33 for Trump and 17 for Haley.

She is looking to build up her total in 13 G.O.P. primary states that are not limited to registered Republicans, including South Carolina, her home turf. But that strategy fell flat in New Hampshire, and Trump maintains a firm grasp on the Republican base nationwide, including in the delegate-rich states of California, Florida and Texas. Trump’s allies have also worked behind the scenes to twist primary and delegate rules in his favor.

Nevada, with its confusing dueling primary and caucus this week, offered something of a preview. Before a single vote was cast, Nevada Republicans rendered the primary moot when they decided that only the results of the caucus on Thursday would determine the allotment of the state’s 26 delegates, a move meant to benefit Trump.

His supporters in Nevada, including the governor, had pushed selecting “None of These Candidates” on the primary ballot as a protest vote against Haley. In a final twist, Haley will technically win the contest — state election law says “only votes cast for the named candidates shall be counted” — but the confounding result will deny her even a symbolic victory.

Haley told Fox Business on Wednesday that her campaign “always knew Nevada was a scam.” “Trump had it rigged from the very beginning,” she added.

In a social media post, Haley unloaded on her own party, painting the tumultuous day in Nevada and on Capitol Hill not as bad for her, but for Republicans. (The party had its own embarrassments as the House failed to impeach the homeland security secretary, lost a vote to speed aid to Israel and cheered the demise of a border deal Republicans had demanded.)

“Republicans keep doing the same thing and getting the same result: chaos. That’s the definition of insanity,” she wrote.

Haley and her allies insist she has the resources and momentum to go the distance at least through Super Tuesday on March 5, the largest single day of the primary season. Her campaign pulled in $16.5 million in January, her biggest monthly fund-raising total to date.

At recent campaign events in South Carolina, Haley has appeared with a fresh combative approach and a new walkout song: “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll,” performed by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. She has aggressively been attacking the former president on his mental acuity, his refusal to debate and his legal problems as he fights 91 felony indictments.

“He has spent $50 million of campaign donations on legal fees,” she said this week in Spartanburg, S.C. “And he with his own mouth said he’s going to be in a courtroom more time than he is going to be able to campaign.”

Those legal travails may provide one of Haley’s only plausible routes to victory, because the straightforward voter math is daunting. Forty-eight states have yet to hold their caucuses or primaries. Some will award state delegates proportionally. But the majority will host total or partial winner-take-all contests, which tend to advantage the front-runner.

Republicans in California, where Haley is expected at a rally tonight in Los Angeles, adopted a set of rules that will give all 169 of its delegates to the candidate who draws 50 percent of the vote statewide — a threshold only Trump has cleared in polls.

Haley is heavily courting independents and college-educated and new Republican voters.

But Ruth Igielnik, a polling editor at The Times, points to a CNN poll from last week that showed Haley’s weakness with her own base: She had support from only 29 percent of college-educated Republicans nationally. Trump had 55 percent of the same demographic.

Matt Grossmann, director of Michigan State University’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, was also dubious. “They have identified the most plausible among implausible roads,” he said of the Haley team.

And yet, Haley’s staunchest supporters insist she can hold out. They argue Trump could still stumble, especially facing a federal trial on charges of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The trial was expected to start on March 4, one day before Super Tuesday. It has since been postponed indefinitely.

Republican strategists see Haley’s bid now as a principled but futile stand against Mr. Trump, or as wish fulfillment for her donors or a launchpad for a future run. Ryan Williams, a Republican strategist and a former aide to Mitt Romney who has long known Haley, said Trump’s legal problems had only made him grow stronger.

“There is not a desire among the Republican electorate to go in a different direction,” he said. “Nikki Haley’s candidacy is more of a statement candidacy.”

Nikki Haley and her allies are betting that voters in South Carolina — a state where she was born and raised, and led as governor — will remember her high approval ratings and achievements there. She’s still trailing Donald Trump by double digits. In this video, Jazmine Ulloa explains the stakes for Haley’s presidential run.


At least one Democratic-aligned group is eager to make political hay out of the right-wing meltdown over Taylor Swift. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which is supporting President Biden, has begun selling bumper stickers reading “2024: MAGA vs. Swifties. Register to vote!” — Maggie Astor


A new poll from the University of Massachusetts Amherst shows that 39 percent of Americans — including 74 percent of Republicans — say it is a good idea for Donald Trump to “be a dictator only on the first day of his second term.” — Michael Bender


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