Haley faces tough choices ahead of South Carolina primary

With less than two weeks left until the Republican primary in her home state of South Carolina, Nikki Haley is trailing behind former President Trump and faces a tough choice as she prepares to run for president. confronting.

Amid growing calls for the former president to be treated as the presumptive Republican nominee, many within the party have questioned Haley’s motives for remaining in the race, as the former U.N. ambassador prepares for 2028. Some speculate whether he is there or whether he is putting himself in a backup position. In case President Trump is unable to run.

former president spoke to supporters this week Haley will “never” be elected vice president. But if she drops out of the race, she would also face pressure to decide whether to join several of Trump’s former rivals in supporting him.

“You want to campaign to win, and she doesn’t have a path to victory. So she must be running for some other reason,” said Republican strategist Justin Safey. said, claiming that Haley is running more of a “statement campaign” at this point.

Trump currently has a nearly 35-point lead in South Carolina, according to the latest polling averages from The Hill/Decision Desk, a state that proves Haley can outperform poll expectations. Some see this as the last position to do so.

A Winthrop University poll released this week found that Ms. Haley’s favorability rating in her home state has declined in recent months, with Mr. Trump up 36 points.

Some strategists suggest Haley could earn a second-place finish in the Palmetto State if she comes within 10 points of Trump, while others believe anything less than a clean sweep would hurt her. .

“If the polls are to be believed, she will be badly hurt electorally in her home state. It’s hard to imagine a more humiliating loss, and a loss that more weakens her future political prospects.” It’s difficult,” Seifi said.

But although the odds look against her, Haley’s team has shown it has no intention of retreating from the race, pushing ahead with the first primaries in the South and focusing on states voting on Super Tuesday, March 5. is aimed at. She announced leadership. She assembled the California team on Wednesday and held a rally in Texas on Thursday.

“Our goal is to try to be everywhere and everywhere,” Haley Texas told CBS Newsclaimed her campaign was about “closing the gap” in South Carolina and was preparing for next month’s race.

Mr. Trump held a rally this week in Charleston, South Carolina, with Sen. Tim Scott (RS.C.). appointed by haley He introduced it to the Senate in 2012, but ended his 2024 presidential bid before endorsing Trump last year. Amid whispers of whether Scott was Trump’s veep-stakes candidate, the former president appeared to take Haley off the table.

During the rally, Trump referenced previous comments confusing Haley with former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), claiming they both stink.

“Remember, when I say this about Nikki, it means she will never run for vice president. She will run for vice president with me. I’m not going” President Trump said.

Haley herself has said she is not interested in the vice presidential role. But while Haley knows her chances of winning in 2024 are slim, she continues to campaign vigorously to use the national attention to raise her profile for a 2028 run. Some people speculate that there may be.

At the same time, strategists say Haley is exposing herself to losses in early states and potential embarrassment in her home state later this month if she looks to run for president in the future. says it’s not necessarily beneficial to her track record.

Republican strategist Brendan Steinhauser contrasted Haley with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). He ran for the White House last year as the front-runner for President-elect Donald Trump, but put his candidacy on hold after Iowa finished in second place and quickly endorsed the former. president.

“He’s keeping the powder dry, probably for the next cycle. He made a different calculation, “Trump is going to be the nominee, and I’m going to wait until the next cycle.” said Steinhauser.

Ms. Haley may also be taking the position in case Mr. Trump falls through one of his multiple legal battles and is unable to continue with his candidacy.

“That must have been part of the calculation for her at this point. [Trump] There just doesn’t seem to be any chance of it happening completely without it,” Steinhauser said.

Haley criticized Trump’s legal battles at a Thursday rally in Dallas, saying, “Trump is going to spend most of this year in court, not campaigning.”

Her campaign saw a significant influx of funds in January, giving her the resources to continue her campaign.

But strategists say it’s not yet clear what Haley’s exact endgame will be.

“Part of the problem is she hasn’t offered any calculations,” said Matthew Bartlett, a Republican strategist. “She doesn’t seem to be sending a message that she intends to win the nomination. She doesn’t seem to be sending a message that she intends to win the nomination. She believes she is a viable alternative if President Trump faces serious legal or political problems.” It doesn’t seem like she’s conveying that message. It’s unclear whether she intends to carry the torch over there.”

“It’s such a mystery and probably such a harrowing experience at this point that it begs the question: Is she doing more damage to herself by staying home?” Bartlett said.

Haley finished third in Iowa and came in a close second in New Hampshire, but lost in the Nevada primary to the option “None of these candidates,” which Trump did not have on the ballot. , suffered an embarrassing defeat.

Her continued presence in the race has angered some within the party, who are calling for her withdrawal to solidify Trump’s support. If he were to apply that label, it would open up joint fundraising opportunities between his campaign and the National Party.

Bartlett said Haley’s assertion as a roadblock between Trump and Republican candidates “risks leaving a very bad taste in the mouths of Republican primary voters.”

Steinhauser said the campaign’s development also jeopardized Haley’s chances of winning a Cabinet post in a possible second Trump administration, and that she has “reached the point of no return” with her support for Trump. “It’s gone,” he predicts.

“It’s become very personal and very acrimonious. There’s a lot of animosity between the two candidates,” Steinhauser said of the Republican race.

Haley called Trump “unstable” and accused him of being a “huge weight” on Republican candidates this week after Democrats won a key special election in New York.

And in the run-up to the Palmetto State’s Feb. 24 primary, his campaign has rolled out mobile billboards in South Carolina, calling out President Trump’s attacks on his age and comments about his husband, who is currently in the military. In response, he criticized his comments about veterans. President Trump has also continued to slam Haley.

Both White House candidates have the general election in mind. While the race appears to be heading for a rematch between Biden and Trump, Haley highlighted polls showing Trump doing better in hypothetical face-offs against Democratic incumbents, and is confident that she will win. He emphasized the possibility.

“This is a very strange cycle,” Bartlett said, pointing to the “incredibly strange” setting in which a former president is his party’s front-runner but also faces several legal battles. did. For Haley, who remains President Trump’s final challenger, “it’s very unclear what her strategy is at this point.”

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