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Haley faces uphill battle as South Carolina Republicans rally behind Trump

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After finishing third in the Iowa caucuses, and a loss for former President Donald Trump by more than 10 points in New Hampshire Republican primary, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley remains determined to continue his campaign in his home state of South Carolina.

But despite Haley’s two terms as governor, only Rep. Ralph Norman and a handful of state lawmakers are supporting her against Trump in the Feb. 24 Republican primary. The majority of the state’s Republican figures – including Governor Henry McMaster, Senators Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham, as well as five of the six Republicans in the state House of Representatives – have thrown their support behind Trump. They cite his path to victory as justification for supporting the former president.

Trump also gained the support of 66 state lawmakers in South Carolina, according to his campaign. Haley’s campaign says she has 12 state lawmakers behind her.

South Carolina state Rep. Sylleste Davis said she felt Haley ran a good campaign, but “at some point the inevitability of President Trump becomes apparent.”

Norman, Haley’s only supporter in Congress, told CNN on Wednesday that he personally likes Trump but stands by his decision to support Haley, noting that Trump went too far in attacking him in his victory speech in Congress. the New Hampshire Republican primary.

“I supported Nikki in February last year,” Norman said. “I called Donald Trump before because I respect him. I said, President Trump, I’m going to support Nikki. And he was really nice. And I think at the time he didn’t think she had a chance, but I knew Nikki. I had a chance.”

“She’s as strong-willed and determined as anyone I’ve ever seen. So the remaining 48 states, she’ll be competing, and I think that’s good for the system. Competition is good, Kaitlan,” a- he added.

Norman also showed his support by accompanying Haley on the campaign trail. Norman introduced Haley on stage at a welcome rally in Charleston on Wednesday, encouraging South Carolinians to stand with her.

One of Trump’s supporters, Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, started out in Congress as something of a Trump critic, but over time her position has changed.

“I don’t completely agree with any candidate. And so far, I’ve stayed out of it. But now is the time to unite behind our candidate,” Mace said in a statement Monday. social media post endorse Trump. “To be honest, it’s been quite a spectacle since he left the White House.”

On Friday, Mace’s former top aide, Daniel Hanlon, paperwork filed running against his former boss in June’s congressional primary, a rare move.

Haley supported Mace during her 2022 primary campaign, where she faced a Trump-backed candidate.

The Haley campaign suffered its biggest blow last week when Scott endorsed Trump on Haley. The approval came despite Haley’s 2013 appointment of Scott to the Senate, replacing outgoing Sen. Jim DeMint.

Trump, speaking to supporters Tuesday after his victory in New Hampshire, told Scott: “And you’re the senator from her state and (you) supported me. You must really hate her.”

Scott laughed and replied, “I love you.”

In light of these setbacks, the Haley campaign remains undeterred. The campaign said it expected a loss in Iowa and said it still hoped to get 40 percent or more of the vote in New Hampshire. The Granite State was supposed to mine the land, according to the super PAC, SFA Fund Inc., which supports Haley.

“Look, only two states voted,” Haley said Wednesday. “We have 48 more who deserve to vote.”

Addressing the lack of support in her home state, the campaign said: “Nikki has always been an anti-establishment conservative candidate. As governor, she signed pro-life legislation, cracked down on illegal immigration, and transformed South Carolina into an economic powerhouse. “, and has clashed with both parties on issues of spending and transparency. As Trump courts all of Washington, it is clear that he has become the establishment.”

As Haley persists, even some members of the Republican National Committee are openly advocating for her withdrawal from the race.

In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday after Trump’s victory in New Hampshire, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said that after “looking at the math and the path forward,” she doesn’t believe that ‘Haley can win.

“We need to unite around our eventual nominee, which will be Donald Trump, and we need to make sure we beat Joe Biden,” McDaniel said.

On Thursday, when news of the RNC’s later-withdrawn draft resolution that would declare Trump as the party’s nominee was announced, Haley’s campaign responded by saying, “If Ronna McDaniel wants to be helpful, she can organize debate in South Carolina, unless she’s also worried that Trump can’t handle being on stage for 90 minutes with Nikki Haley.”

Kathryn Watson contributed to this report.

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