Trump soundly wins South Carolina Republican primary – as Nikki Haley vows to stay in race

Donald Trump defeated his former United Nations ambassador on Saturday

Katie Hawkinson
Washington, DC
Sunday 25 February 2024 07:59 GMT
Nikki Haley says she will stay in GOP presidential race despite South Carolina loss

Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley has pledged to keep fighting for the Republican presidential nomination despite a clear defeat in her home state primary to ex-president Donald Trump.

Mr Trump secured an expected victory over Ms Haley in the Palmetto State, where she served as governor from 2011 to 2017. He is projected to secure roughly 60 per cent of the vote, with nearly 40 per cent of votes going to Ms Haley, according to projections two hours after polls closed. The former president’s series of primary victories continues to solidify his prospects as the 2024 Republican Presidential candidate.

Ms Haley spoke to a group of supporters and journalists at her Charleston, South Carolina watch party just 90 minutes after polls closed, pledging to remain in the race.

“I said earlier this week that no matter what happens in South Carolina, I would continue to run,” she told supporters, who met her words with cheers. “I’m a woman of my word.”

“I’m not giving up this fight when a majority of Americans disapprove of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden,” she added.

The former South Carolina governor also congratulated Mr Trump on his victory.

Nikki Haley speaks speaks to supporters in Charleston, South Carolina following her defeat (REUTERS)

“I want to congratulate Donald Trump on his victory. And I want to thank the people of South Carolina for using the power of your voice,” Ms Haley said. “No matter the results, I love the people of our state. I love what we accomplished together and I love how we united during our worst challenges and tragedies.”

Ms Haley has previously vowed to continue fighting Mr Trump despite her many primary losses. The former UN ambassador stayed resolute going into Saturday’s race, even after losing to the “none of these candidates” box listed on Nevada ballot papers earlier this month.

“They have the right to a real choice,” Ms Haley said on Saturday evening. “Not a Soviet style election with only one candidate.”

Donald Trump speaks at his South Carolina victory party (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Earlier this week, Ms Haley spoke at Clemson University about her plans to remain in the presidential race.

“South Carolina will vote on Saturday,” she told audience members. “But on Sunday, I’ll still be running for president. I’m not going anywhere. I’m campaigning every day until the last person votes.”

Ms Haley suffered yet another defeat on Saturday, though less consequential. Attendees of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) took a straw poll on Saturday afternoon surveying their preference for Mr Trump’s vice president. The former South Carolina governor came in last with less than 5 per cent of the vote, while her former primary opponent Vivek Ramaswamy tied for first place alongside South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump and his allies are celebrating.

Supporters cheer as Donald Trump speaks in South Carolina on Saturday (AP)

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said at Mr Trump’s victory party, “I would like you all to remember this moment that you were here.”

“This is a great moment in American history,” he continued. “We will probably never see another one like it. Every time a rocket launches, you know, it goes up slow and it is climbing and climbing and then boom, that next stage comes off and it goes – well, we just did that we just hit maximum velocity. Will we go on all the way.”

Trump reacts after winning South Carolina primary

During his victory speech, Mr Trump thanked Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — the gesture was met with a mix of cheers and boos from the crowd. The former president also thanked North Carolina Republican Party Chair Michael Whatley, whom Mr Trump backed as the next Republican National Committee chair with his daughter-in-law Lara Trump as co-chair.

Audience members also booed when Mr Trump recognized South Carolina Republican Party Chair Drew McKissick in his speech.

Super Tuesday, the day when the greatest number of states hold presidential primaries, is now on the horizon. This year, 15 states and one territory will hold their primary on Tuesday, 5 March. Later, the Republican party will formally choose their candidate at the Republican National Convention, to be held in July.

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