Nikki Haley is out of the 2024 race – what happens now?

Former UN ambassador has vowed to fight on but Donald Trump appears to have nomination sewn up

Joe Sommerlad,Katie Hawkinson
Wednesday 06 March 2024 19:34 GMT
Nikki Haley drops out of 2024 presidential race

Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and US ambassador to the United Nations, has dropped out of the Presidential race after a prolonged fight as the last remaining challenger to Donald Trump for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination

“I said I wanted Americans to have their voices heard. I have done that,” Ms Haley said in her concession speech. “I have no regrets. And while I will no longer be a candidate, I will not stop using my voice for the things I believe in.”

Ms Haley’s decision to drop out comes after suffering 14 state primary defeats in a matter of hours on Super Tuesday. Her only victory, the Vermont GOP primary, marked her second-ever win this cycle after securing Washington, DC on Sunday. Notably, the former ambassador did not endorse Mr Trump after backing down.

Now, Mr Trump stands alone as the GOP-frontrunner.

Is Donald Trump now the Republican nominee?

Not yet — however, he is essentially the unofficial nominee-presumptive for the Republican party.

That being so, the states that have yet to stage their primaries or caucuses will still hold them. There would be no doubt about the outcome and voter turnout would almost certainly be low, given the greatly reduced stakes. However, the people of those states will at least have had an opportunity to cast a vote and have their say, even if the whole affair effectively amounted to a victory lap for Mr Trump (a situation roughly comparable to this year’s parallel Democratic primaries, in which President Joe Biden is ambling to the nomination, almost without challenge).

Donald Trump declared victory for himself after winning fourteen state primaries on Super Tuesday
Donald Trump declared victory for himself after winning fourteen state primaries on Super Tuesday (EPA)

The former president will presumably continue to rack up state primary wins until the Republican National Convention (RNC), scheduled for this July.

There, the GOP delegates from each state will vote to nominate the Republican Presidential candidate — a victory for Mr Trump all but guaranteed at this point in the race.

Why did Nikki Haley stay in the race so long?

Prior to Super Tuesday, Ms Haley finished third in the Iowa caucuses and went on to come second in New Hampshire, picking up 43.2 per cent of the vote to Mr Trump’s 54.3 per cent, prompting the frontrunner to express his irritation after she delivered an upbeat address to her supporters rather than admit defeat and bow out.

She also suffered the humiliation of scoring fewer votes than the “none of these candidates” box on Nevada ballot papers and lost overwhelmingly to Mr Trump in her own backyard of South Carolina as well as in Idaho, Michigan and Missouri and in North Dakota.

The former president has targeted her from day one, from labelling her with belittling nicknames (“Birdbrain”, “Tricky Nikki”) to threatening her donors with ex-communication from his movement and taunting her over her husband’s absence from the campaign trail (Major Michael Haley is deployed overseas with the South Carolina Army National Guard).

Trump allies like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Vivek Ramaswamy and Tim Scott also took to cable news calling on the former South Carolina governor to drop out.

But Ms Haley remained undeterred until this week, keeping her promise to remain in the race until Super Tuesday.

That begs the question, why did Ms Haley stay in the race so long? Is she hoping to stake a claim for the leadership of what remains of the Reaganite wing of the Republican Party in anticipation of some post-Trump GOP civil war? Is she setting herself up for another presidential run in 2028?

Nikki Haley dropped out of the 2024 Presidential race on Wednesday after a hard-fought battle
Nikki Haley dropped out of the 2024 Presidential race on Wednesday after a hard-fought battle (REUTERS)

The Independent’s Eric Garcia argues: “At this point, it’s fairly clear that Haley is simply waiting out Trump, hoping that his legal affairs get the better of him and that she could be seen as a viable alternative to him if or when he becomes engulfed by the lawsuits and criminal cases against him.”

She effectively admitted as much herself recently when she said of Mr Trump: “He’s going to be in a courtroom all of March, April, May and June. How in the world do you win a general election when these cases keep going and the judgements keep coming?”

Despite it all, Mr Trump’s legal woes have so far had little impact on his supporters. Conservative voters appear apparently undeterred by the fact that his first term ended in a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol and a second impeachment, his long-touted Mexico border wall left unfinished, nor the fact that he has four criminal indictments and 91 felony charges hanging over him and has already this year been ordered to pay $83.3m in defamation damages to sexual assault accuser E Jean Carroll or $354.9m to the state of New York after being found guilty of engaging in fraudulent business practices for the better part of a decade.

Given her spirited showing, Ms Haley’s return to the political stage is likely inevitable. But for now, all eyes are on the Trump-Biden rematch set for this November.

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