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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Joan E Greve in Charleston

Nikki Haley says ‘I have a duty’ to stay in race despite latest loss to Trump

Nikki Haley will travel to Michigan on Sunday after suffering a decisive loss in her home state of South Carolina, marking her fourth straight defeat in the Republican presidential primary. Donald Trump continued his undefeated streak with a double-digit win in South Carolina, further cementing his hold on the Republican party and raising more questions about Haley’s decision to remain in the primary.

As she addressed supporters at an election night party in Charleston on Saturday, Haley deftly framed her candidacy as a moral imperative for the many voters who express dissatisfaction with a potential rematch between Trump and Joe Biden in November.

“I said earlier this week that no matter what happens in South Carolina, I would continue to run for president. I’m a woman of my word,” Haley said. “In the next 10 days, another 21 states and territories will speak. They have the right to a real choice, not a Soviet-style election with only one candidate. And I have a duty to give them that choice.”

The Haley campaign announced Friday that it was launching a seven-figure ad buy across Super Tuesday states, and the candidate will be in Troy, Michigan, for a rally on Sunday evening. Haley’s donors have also shown no sign of abandoning her, as she raised $11.5m in January alone, marking her best fundraising month to date. Federal filings indicate that Haley actually outraised Trump last month, with the former president’s campaign bringing in $8.8m in January.

But it is highly unlikely Haley will break her losing streak in Michigan, which will hold its primary on Tuesday. A recent Morning Consult poll showed Trump leading Haley by 60 points, 79% to 19%, in the midwestern state. Delivering a victory speech in Columbia, South Carolina, on Saturday night, Trump predicted he would continue his winning streak in Michigan and then in the 15 states that will vote on Super Tuesday on 5 March.

“Michigan’s up. We’re going to have a tremendous success there,” Trump said. “South Carolina, thank you very much. Go home. Get rest. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”

South Carolina primary: read more

Trump’s allies have expressed increased exasperation with Haley’s presence in the race, blaming her large donors for propping up her struggling campaign, but Haley continues to insist that she is better positioned to defeat Biden in November. A poll conducted by Marquette Law School this month showed Haley leading Biden by 16 points among registered voters, while Trump leads the sitting president by just four points among the same group.

“What I saw today was South Carolina’s frustration with our country’s direction. I’ve seen that same frustration nationwide. I share it. I feel it to my core,” Haley said in Charleston.

“But here’s the thing: America will come apart if we make the wrong choices. This has never been about me or my political future. We need to beat Joe Biden in November. I don’t believe Donald Trump can beat Joe Biden.”

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