Haley’s not winning, but she sure is flying high on Trump hate

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley has virtually no path to winning the GOP nomination outright. 

In South Carolina, her home state and the next contest up on Saturday, former Gov. Haley trails Donald Trump by some 30 points in 538’s aggregate, even as she appears to be chipping away at his lead.

Just three days later in Michigan, Haley will take an even bigger beating, with Trump potentially poised to win three to four times as many votes as the former United Nations ambassador.

But voters in 16 states and territories will weigh in on Super Tuesday. Haley is hoping to fare better on March 5 since 11 of the contests have open or semi-open primaries. In particular, states such as Massachusetts and Virginia have a high concentration of college-educated voters similar to those who boosted Haley’s bottom line in New Hampshire.

Haley’s aides have said they’re hoping for a “respectable” outcome in South Carolina that allows her to soldier on. What no one is doing is actually gaming out a scenario where Haley, who has 17 delegates, can actually overtake Trump, who currently has 63 delegates. 

So when Haley planned a Tuesday press conference on the “state of the race,” journalists naturally wondered whether she might finally be throwing in the towel. Major cable networks, including Fox News, aired at least some or all of Haley’s remarks live. But instead of a farewell, their viewers were largely treated to a Trump roast.


“It’s not normal to spend $50 million in campaign contributions on personal court cases,” Haley said, directing her aim at the GOP front-runner. “It’s not normal to threaten people who back your opponent, and it’s not normal to call on Russia to invade NATO countries. Donald Trump has done all of that.

“I think Donald Trump was the right president at the right time, but times change and so has Trump,” Haley continued.

“He’s gotten more unstable and unhinged. He spends more time in courtrooms than he does on the campaign trail, he refuses to debate, he’s completely distracted, and everything is about him. He’s so obsessed with his demons from the past, he can’t focus on delivering the future Americans deserve,” Haley added.

Brava, Haley. Frankly, the pitch is too good for the MAGA base—they won’t budge on their unfettered Trump adoration. But it’s the exact right tenor for the group of well-educated, highly informed anti-Trump Republican voters whom President Joe Biden will need to peel off in November.

Haley’s pledge to stay in the race through Super Tuesday because “I feel no need to kiss the ring” drew the lion’s share of the headlines

In any normal presidential primary contest in any normal party, Haley would have been forced to drop out shortly after New Hampshire because she can’t show donors any reasonable path to victory.

But Haley continues to defy political gravity because her virulently anti-Trump donors can’t get enough of her shredding Trump.

Forget the delegate math: The money keeps rolling in. Haley started 2024 with roughly $14.5 million cash on hand and, earlier this month, her campaign reported bringing in another $16.5 million despite a lackluster third-place finish in the first-in-the-nation caucus in Iowa.

Haley’s fundraising strength is yet another data point demonstrating the electorate’s visceral hate for Trump, even among voters who lean conservative.

How long Haley will choose to stay in the race is another question altogether, but for now, her war chest is flush. That Haley also appears to be having the time of her life slicing and dicing Trump on the campaign trail is also driving the front-runner mad.

“She’s going to drop down to kiss ass when she quits, like she always does,” predicted Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung after Haley’s state of the race speech. 

Sounds like Haley’s “no need to kiss the ring” slug at Trump landed nicely.

Democratic voters know Joe Biden is old and MAGA voters like to pretend that Trump isn’t just as long in the tooth. Both men were old the last time we did this and the only thing that’s changed is Biden is now a successful incumbent, while Trump is busy juggling trials and indictments.

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