Nikki Haley drops out of presidential race

  • Haley committed to staying in the race as long as she had voter support
  • First woman to win 2 Republican primaries: Vermont and Washington, D.C. 
  • Decision to drop out will clear path for Trump to secure GOP nomination

(NewsNation) — Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley suspended her presidential campaign Wednesday, clearing the way for former President Donald Trump to secure the Republican nomination later this year.

Haley announced her decision Wednesday during an address in Charleston, South Carolina.

“When I began, I said the campaign was grounded in my love of our country,” she said. “Just last week, my mother, a first-generation immigrant, got to vote for her daughter for president. Only in America.”

While her campaign has come to an end, Haley promised to continue to use her voice to support the things she believes in, including fighting for American values and freedom.

“It is now up to Donald Trump to earn the votes of our party and beyond it who did not support him. I hope he does that,” she said. “At its best, politics is about bringing people into your cause, not turning them away … this is now his time for choosing.”

Haley did not endorse Trump but called on him to earn the support of Republicans and independents who did not vote for him in the primary.

Trump didn’t waste any time, inviting Haley’s supporters to join his movement.

“Nikki Haley got TROUNCED last night, in record-setting fashion … (I) would further like to invite all of the Haley supporters to join the greatest movement in the history of our Nation,” Trump wrote on Truth Social.

Haley defeated Trump in the Vermont Republican primary Tuesday, but the former president dominated in every other state. The victory delivered Haley her biggest win since the start of the GOP primary season, but until Tuesday the only GOP nominating contest she had won was in Washington, D.C.

She thanked her supporters Tuesday night and noted she is the first woman to win two Republican primaries. Haley said her showing in the primaries is a sign there are Republicans who have deep concerns about Trump that need to be addressed.

“Unity is not achieved by simply claiming ‘we’re united.’ Today, in state after state, there remains a large block of Republican primary voters who are expressing deep concerns about Donald Trump. That is not the unity our party needs for success. Addressing those voters’ concerns will make the Republican Party and America better,” said Oliva Perez-Cubas, national spokesperson for Haley’s campaign.  

As she concluded her remarks, Haley addressed the women who put their faith in her campaign, calling on them to be strong and courageous.

President Joe Biden responded to Haley’s remarks, commending her for her courage to run for president.

“It takes a lot of courage to run for President — that’s especially true in today’s Republican Party, where so few dare to speak the truth about Donald Trump. Nikki Haley was willing to speak the truth about Trump,” Biden said in a statement.

Biden was also quick to welcome Haley’s supporters, saying, “Donald Trump made it clear he doesn’t want Nikki Haley’s supporters. I want to be clear: There is a place for them in my campaign. I know there is a lot we won’t agree on. But on the fundamental issues of preserving American democracy, on standing up for the rule of law, on treating each other with decency and dignity and respect, on preserving NATO and standing up to America’s adversaries, I hope and believe we can find common ground.”

Ahead of the first primary of the season in New Hampshire in January, Haley was the last remaining challenger to Trump, the presumed front-runner who maintained a massive lead in polling throughout the contest. Throughout 2023, interest and favorability swung in the directions of Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, though each candidate’s upswing faded quickly. 

Haley made a late surge heading into the Iowa caucus, finishing third behind Trump and DeSantis. A week later, she came in second in the New Hampshire primary, still behind Trump.

She suffered a setback in the Nevada primary, where she came in second behind “none of these candidates.” Trump opted to run in the state’s caucus.

In her home state of South Carolina, Haley was once again bested by Trump, but she vowed to stay in the race through Super Tuesday.

Haley campaigned on a message of leading the next generation of conservatives in America, one that failed to resonate with the majority of Republican voters who preferred Trump’s vision.

The former president said after his landslide win in Iowa that it’s time for the country to “come together.” He vowed to “drill, baby, drill” and “seal up the border” if he is reelected.

The daughter of Punjabi Indian immigrants, Haley grew up in rural South Carolina where she described enduring racist taunts, an experience she says had an impact on her personal and political life.

In 2011, Haley became the first woman and first Indian American to be elected governor of South Carolina. Haley then served as the ambassador to the United Nations from the U.S. under Trump. She was the first major GOP challenger to Trump when she launched her campaign in February 2023. Haley was the fifth Republican woman this century to run for president.

In New Hampshire, Haley earned the endorsement of Gov. Chris Sununu, but it wasn’t enough to propel her to victory. She was courting the state’s large bloc of independent voters who may have been disillusioned by President Joe Biden’s policies but found Trump an unappealing alternative. 

Indeed, polls consistently show that Americans don’t want a Trump-Biden rematch. About 59% in a recent NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ poll said they would not be enthusiastic about a rematch, and 43% of respondents think Trump would win that showdown compared to 33% who expect Biden to win.

Haley leaned heavily into polling ahead of the New Hampshire primary, telling voters she stood the best chance of beating Biden in November. Polls often showed her running ahead of Biden in a hypothetical matchup by several points, a much better head-to-head performance than if the Republican candidate were Trump.

NewsNation digital producer Tom Palmer contributed to this report.

2024 Election

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