Haley reacts as DeSantis exits 2024 race: ‘May the best woman win’

Nikki Haley walked into a seafood shack in Seabrook, NH on Sunday afternoon with some news for the crowd: Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, is no longer running for president.

“We just heard that Ron DeSantis has dropped out of the race,” said Ms. Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, to cheers from several dozen people in attendance. “And I want to say to Ron, he’s had a great run, he’s been a good governor, and we wish him the best.”

“When I said that, now there’s one guy and one lady left,” she continued, holding up two fingers, to more cheers. She added: “For now, I’ll leave you with this: May the best woman win.”

Ms. Haley and her allies have long sought to characterize the presidential race as one between her and former President Donald J. Trump, even as she finished third in the Iowa caucuses. With Mr. DeSantis now out of the race, that argument has become much more salient — even though recent polling averages put her 15 percentage points behind Mr. Trump in New Hampshire.

She continued that argument in a statement issued by her campaign, stating that “only one state voted” and that “half the votes went to Donald Trump and half did not.” (Mr. Trump won 51 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucuses.)

“Voters deserve to have a say on whether we’re going to go down the Trump and Biden road again, or if we’re going to go down a new conservative path,” Haley said in a statement. “New Hampshire voters will have their say on Tuesday.”

Ms. Haley also pledged to stay in the race through the South Carolina primary and Super Tuesday on March 5, regardless of what happens in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.

Instead of making remarks in Seabrook, as she has done at recent outlets, Ms. Haley moved immediately to taking selfies and talking one-on-one with supporters — a little victory lap of sorts.

Speaking on CNN’s Dana Bash after the event, Ms. Haley escalated her attacks against Mr. Trump, whom she has hit harder in recent days, as well as President Biden. She said they are “equally bad” for the country.

“If any of them were good, I wouldn’t be running,” she added.

Ms. Haley told CNN that Mr. DeSantis, who supported Mr. Trump, in his announcement of dropping out of the race, did not call her to inform her of his departure.

She also said Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina had not told her he would endorse Mr. Trump earlier this week — even though Mr. Scott told CNN he texted her the day before he endorsed Mr. Trump. “He didn’t tell me he was going to do it,” Ms. Haley said.

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