Despite two defeats, Nikki Haley is trying to claim victory so far in the Republican presidential race

(Steven Senne/Associated Press)

Despite two defeats, Nikki Haley is trying to claim victory so far in the Republican presidential race


January 24, 2024

Despite losing both Iowa and New Hampshire to Donald Trump, Nikki Haley is still trying to take those losses as a victory and vowing to prevent Trump from being crowned as the 2024 Republican nominee.

However, the path through the next voting states may not be any easier.

The political class wanted us to believe this race was over before it even started, Haley posted on X on Tuesday evening, after a speech in which she noted that she was far from ready to leave any ground. You proved them wrong, and I am so grateful.

Haley performed better in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday than she did a week earlier in the Iowa caucuses, where she finished third, well behind Trump and only slightly behind the Florida governor. Ron DeSantis, who has since dropped his campaign.

But Haley had been counting on a strong showing in New Hampshire, a state where her effort to appeal to independents and more moderate Republicans appeared to be taking root. Trump still won by double digits on Tuesday night, leaving some wondering whether she would continue.

Haley has confirmed she will do that, speaking virtually to Republican voters in the U.S. Virgin Islands, who are holding their caucuses on Feb. 8 before flying from New Hampshire to South Carolina, where she has planned an evening rally.

The Wednesday night event serves two purposes for Haley. It’s a welcome home rally for the South Carolina native and an opener for her campaign in the South’s first Republican-voting state, which has traditionally been influential in determining the party’s nominee. Since 1980, only one South Carolina Republican primary winner has lost the nomination.

Since his victory in the 2016 primary there helped cement Trump’s dominance in that year’s race, South Carolina has remained loyal to him. For the 2024 campaign, he has the support of all but one U.S. House of Representatives Republican, as well as the governor, lieutenant governor and both U.S. senators.

Trump is in a leadership position in South Carolina,” one of those senators, Lindsey Graham, said at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, praising Haley’s efforts but predicting her loss in their home state. I think for all practical purposes the primaries are over.

Ahead of the New Hampshire vote, the super PAC that supported Haley’s candidacy was quick to point out that President


Biden, the Democrat she hoped to face in the general election, had been unsuccessful in the first few contests of his 2020 bid but ultimately won the nomination. That comparison, however, does not take into account the fact that black voters helped fuel Biden’s eventual victory as he reached the South, a factor not expected to weigh heavily in the Republican Party’s primaries.

Still, Mark Harris, chief strategist for that super PAC, SFA Inc., emphasized on a call with reporters Wednesday that Haley has a path to the Republican nomination regardless of Trump’s two early victories.

South Carolina as the next battleground of the campaign” of the direct match between Trump and Haley. The Republican caucuses in Nevada are on February 8, but Trump has already claimed victory there because Haley is not participating. Harris noted that the open primaries mean that any Democrats who choose not to participate in their parties on February 3, they can choose to support Haley on the February 24 ballot.

We’re going to do everything we can to encourage those conservative-leaning and Republican-leaning independents to vote in the primaries, Harris said, noting that the super PAC would join the campaign by providing millions of dollars in TV to run ads in South Carolina. Next month we will also send mailings, knock on doors and do other outreaches.

Asked about conversations with donors after the New Hampshire results, Harris said the group was confident it would have the necessary resources.

Our donors have been working on this for a long time,” Harris said. Our strategy was to reduce the field by two at South Carolina.”

He said he was encouraged by the enthusiasm he saw.

“People are excited and I’m confident we have the resources we need to keep fighting.

___ Associated Press writer Rick Gentilo in Washington contributed to this report. ___Meg Kinnard can be reached at


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