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Trailing in South Carolina primary, Nikki Haley says she won’t quit

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Trailing in South Carolina primary, Nikki Haley says she won't quit 1

Watch: Haley jokes some came to her speech to see if she’s dropping out

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley has vowed to remain in the race, regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s South Carolina primary, where she is badly trailing Donald Trump.

Difficult polls in her home state – on top of three consecutive losses to Mr Trump – have fuelled speculation that Ms Haley may drop out of the race soon.

“I’m not,” she said in Greenville, South Carolina. “Far from it.”

She pledged to at least finish the 16 races on Super Tuesday – 5 March.

“I refuse to quit,” Ms Haley said to applause. “South Carolina will vote on Saturday. But on Sunday, I’ll still be running for president. I’m not going anywhere.”

Mr Trump is spending time in South Carolina to ensure he wins by a large margin and further cements his position as the Republican frontrunner. He is expected in Greenville – the same city where Haley made her speech – for a town hall event later on Tuesday.

He and Ms Haley have been in a head-to-head contest for the Republican nomination since Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suspended his campaign in January.

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But Ms Haley, the former South Carolina governor, has been unable to catch Mr Trump. Recent polls from South Carolina show she is some 30 points behind the former president. Nationally, that margin is even wider.

Still, Ms Haley has continued her campaign in earnest, scheduling a flurry of events across the country. She has gone so far as to announce campaign teams in Texas, Georgia, Vermont and California.

The former governor embraced her underdog position during her remarks in Greenville on Tuesday, dismissing the “political elites and party bosses” who have discounted her campaign.

She again cast herself as the younger, more stable alternative to both Mr Trump and President Joe Biden – calling them two “old men” on Tuesday.

And the former UN Ambassador who served under Mr Trump continued to sharpen her critiques of her former boss, calling him a “disaster”, and assessing that he is “more unstable and more unhinged” than he was in during his first turn in the White House.

“He’s completely distracted,” she said, alluding to his many legal problems. “And everything is about him.”

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Ms Haley’s long-shot bid has been fuelled by hefty donations from deep-pocketed donors. Campaign officials said earlier this month that she had raised $16.5m (£13m) in January.

“We are going to have the resources to go the distance,” Betsy Ankney, Ms Haley’s campaign manager, told reporters last month.

But Saturday’s vote could be the last chance for Ms Haley to prove to prospective voters that she can the distance and truly challenge Mr Trump, even if she is committed to seeing the results on Super Tuesday.

If she is unable to rally support in her home state, the narrow path to a nomination will narrow even further.

There will be 16 contests on Super Tuesday – 5 March – that account for 874 Republican delegates. That’s more than a third of the 2,429 total delegates to be awarded this year.

A candidate must win half that total to become the Republican nominee. Thus far, Ms Haley has won 17 delegates.

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Despite the long odds, Ms Haley remained committed to the process and said the US is not holding “a Soviet style election where there’s only one candidate and he gets 99% of the vote”.

“We don’t anoint kings in this country,” she added. “We have elections and Donald Trump of all people should know, we don’t rig elections.

 

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