Nikki Haley vows to fight Trump after New Hampshire loss

Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, on Tuesday defied calls to drop out of the race for the Republican nomination, vowing to fight back after her second straight loss to former President Donald J. Trump.

In stirring comments, Ms. Haley painted a picture of a country and a world in disarray, presenting herself as the choice of voters dissatisfied with both President Biden and Mr. Trump. She set up an epic showdown with Mr. Trump in South Carolina, where she is based trailing far behind Mr. Trump in the polls despite the home state advantage.

“New Hampshire is first in the state — not last in the nation,” she said as a loud wave of cheers and applause swept through the room. She added that the race is “far from over”.

She added, “We’re going home to South Carolina.”

Borrowing signatures from her speeches, Ms. Haley, United Nations Ambassador under Mr. With Trump, she noted how far she has come since the opening of the race, when she had just over 2 percent. She congratulated Mr Trump on what she described as a well-deserved victory and said politics was “not personal” to her, but also called herself a “fighter”.

“And I’m naughty – and now we’re the last ones standing next to Donald Trump,” she added. Painting herself as an outsider despite her insider resume, she vowed to fight Mr. Trump and the political class behind him. She also took shots at the media, which she said saw his slide to the nomination as a foregone conclusion.

With a new urgency that she has hinted at in the past week, Ms. Haley turned up the heat on the former president, the dominant candidate in the Republican race, who is facing 91 felony charges. Another Trump presidency would be just as bad for the country as four more years of Mr. Biden, she said.

She also took another dig at Mr Trump’s mental capacity and his 77 years, reminding voters how he confused her with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and accused her of failing to secure the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. her cheering audience, who occasionally shouted encouraging interruptions, shouted, “Geriatric!”

“With Donald Trump, you have one chaos after another,” she said. “This court case, this controversy, this tweet, this higher moment. You can’t fix Joe Biden’s mess with Republican mess.”

In her final appearance in the Granite State before the polls closed, Ms. Haley dismissed suggestions that Republican voters had already rallied behind the former president, and vowed not to end her run regardless of the outcome.

“I didn’t get here by luck,” she said at a polling place in Hampton, NH, as she was flanked by supporters, including Gov. Chris Sununu, her top state surrogate. “I got here because I outsmarted and outsmarted all the other guys. So I’m running against Donald Trump and I’m not going to talk about the obituary.”

Mr Trump, speaking to supporters at his victory party, mocked Ms Haley for speaking “like she won”. But “she didn’t win – she lost,” he added.

On Wednesday morning, Ms. Haley is expected to speak during a meeting of the Republican State Committee in the Virgin Islands, which will hold its contest on February 8. She is then expected at a homecoming rally in Charleston, SC, where her campaign is headquartered.

A number of people close to Ms. Haley are encouraging her to continue, many of whom deeply oppose Mr. Trump’s re-election.

Betsy Ankney, her campaign manager, released a memo early Tuesday morning suggesting that Mr. Trump’s path to the nomination was inevitable. She pointed to 11 of the 16 states voting on Super Tuesday that have “open or semi-open primaries” that can include independent voters and are “fertile ground for Nikki.” Rushing through the departing crowd on Tuesday, Ms Ankney said the campaign had also already brought in more staff members, although she declined to discuss further details.

Nevada will host a Republican caucus on Feb. 8, but Ms. Haley is not running in that contest, instead participating in the state’s Republican primary two days earlier which does not reward delegates.

Her campaign bought over $1 million in television advertising from Tuesday through February 6 in South Carolina, according to AdImpact, a media monitoring firm. It’s part of what the campaign has announced will be a $4 million ad buy in the state.

And officials at her allied super PAC, Stand for America, said they, too, plan to move forward.

Mark Harris, the PAC’s chief strategist, said he was preparing television, mail and digital advertising in a get-out-the-vote effort that would look similar to the programs he launched in Iowa and New Hampshire, though as of Tuesday it had not yet made those investments.

“We’re running an outsider’s candidacy, so this is never going to magically happen overnight, and that’s why we’re going to keep moving forward,” Mr. Harris said.

Since the summer, Ms. Haley has predicted that the Republican nomination contest would result in a showdown between her and Mr. Trump in her home state. Her outward confidence in that scenario has not wavered — not after she failed to finish second in Iowa, not after her main rival for No. 2, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, dropped out and endorsed Mr. Trump, not after a series of South Carolina lawmakers this weeks they joined Mr. Trump on the stump in the final days of the New Hampshire race.

Her message to his allies and the media: She’s been here before.

“I won South Carolina twice as governor,” she told reporters Friday at a retro restaurant in Amherst. “I think I know the favorable territory in South Carolina.”

But it has been 10 years since she was last on the ballot, and her country and her party have changed. Mr. Trump has built up a loyal base there since winning South Carolina in the 2016 Republican primary because of Ms. Haley’s endorsement of his opponent, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Although Ms. Haley’s wealthy — and more moderate — Republican base along the coast and in Charleston remained intact, her grip on the Midlands loosened. In the more conservative province around Greenville, it’s likely to have an even steeper climb.

The daunting road ahead didn’t dampen enthusiasm among her supporters who gathered Tuesday for her election watch party at a hotel in Concord. Many were not from New Hampshire. Almost 100 students come from New York.

Despite the results, many described feeling elated, optimistic and hopeful, believing that as Trump’s latest challenger in the Republican race, she will now have a better chance to spread her message.

When the election results flashed on the television screens scattered around the room, few paid attention.

“I’m happy to hear she’s still going,” said Allie Cable, 26, a department supervisor in the health care industry in Concord. “Anything can happen.”

Richard and Wendy Clymer, a Republican couple also from Concord, missed the moment entirely. They rushed to the event late after spending the day rallying support for Ms. Haley and encouraging voters to go to the polls. He saw the result as encouraging, even though the state went to Mr. Trump’s column.

Mr. Clymer, 63, an engineer who held a Haley sign outside the polling place for seven hours, recalled the moment his polling place results were read aloud: Trump 467, Haley 739.

“There were gasps in the gym like, ‘Wow,’ this guy can beat you,” Mr. Clymer said.

Maggie Haberman and Kellen Browning contributed to the reporting.

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