© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley reacts whereas attending a marketing campaign occasion at Indian Land High School’s auditorium in Lancaster, South Carolina, U.S. February 2, 2024. REUTERS/Shanno
By Gram Slattery
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, South Carolina (Reuters) – These are testing occasions for Nikki Haley.
The ex-envoy to the U.N. has been deserted by allies and turn out to be an outsider in her personal occasion. She has misplaced a main the place she was the one identify on the poll. The storm has come to her doorstep, along with her house focused by “swatting” hoaxes.
Haley continues to be standing, for now, defying seemingly inconceivable odds to remain within the race in opposition to Donald Trump to turn out to be the Republican presidential nominee within the 2024 election.
Rob Godfrey, who served as a high-ranking Haley aide when she was governor of South Carolina from 2011 via 2017, stated she loved conditions when she had her again in opposition to the wall.
“Ultimately, this was going to be a race that was going to pit her against Donald Trump,” he added. “I think she’s comfortable in that role as an underdog, even if the political class lined up against her.”
Reuters spoke to eight individuals near Haley, together with senior marketing campaign operatives and donors, who nonetheless spoke of a way of betrayal inside her group about her lack of assist throughout the Republican Party in current weeks.
Some individuals inside and near the marketing campaign really feel more and more remoted by a hostile occasion, based on the individuals interviewed, most of whom requested anonymity to talk frankly. One aide – describing the temper at group HQ after nearly all of the Republican congressional delegation in her house state of South Carolina endorsed Trump – stated it felt as if F-16 fighter jets have been circling overhead.
Haley’s group didn’t reply to a request for remark.
The 52-year-old’s response in current days to the rising refrain of Republican voices demanding she pull out to go away Trump unopposed has been to unleash her strongest assaults up to now on the previous president after months of holding again.
On the path, she has blasted Trump – who dismisses her as a “bird-brain” – for spending $50 million of marketing campaign cash on authorized charges and for throwing “tantrums”. Her marketing campaign has branded him a “chicken” for refusing to debate her, the “king of hypocrisy” and an previous man well beyond his prime.
Haley has additionally sought to show the tables on the 77-year-old former president by casting herself because the outsider resisting the Republican institution.
“All those congressional members around him are the same ones that haven’t done anything for us,” she stated to cheers at a marketing campaign occasion within the South Carolina city of Hilton Head final week as she ready to contest the state main on Feb. 24, the place she trails by greater than 30 proportion factors.
“Trump can have ’em.”
‘THIS IS GOING TO BE MESSY’
The strain on Team Haley, after heavy main defeats in Iowa and New Hampshire final month, ratcheted up in Nevada on Tuesday when Haley was trounced by a “none of these candidates” possibility in a main that Trump did not contest.
She nonetheless hasn’t proven indicators of cracking, although, insisting she would keep within the race for the White House for “the long haul.” Her marketing campaign has rolled out management groups in not less than 5 states – Alaska, Massachusetts, Idaho, Utah and Washington – that don’t vote till March.
“Just know, I’m not going anywhere,” she stated at a marketing campaign occasion on Wednesday. “I’m in this for the long haul. And this is going to be messy. And this is going to hurt, and it’s going to leave some bruises.”
On Thursday, her marketing campaign introduced she would seem at a flurry of occasions to be held in South Carolina over the weekend and host a rally in Dallas subsequent week.
The Nevada blow adopted calls from high-ranking Republican officers throughout the nation for Haley to drop out in current weeks. In South Carolina – the place she lives and has her headquarters – a lot of the state legislature and all however one member of the congressional delegation has endorsed the previous president.
One Haley marketing campaign operative described the state of affairs on the bottom as “awkward,” as so many distinguished Republicans within the state had thrown their weight behind the previous president, leaving Haley’s group successfully remoted.
The choices in late January by U.S. Senator Tim Scott and U.S. Representative Nancy Mace, each former Haley allies in South Carolina, to endorse Trump enraged some members of the marketing campaign, based on two individuals near Haley.
“Everybody has got to sleep with their own decisions,” Haley stated final week of Scott, whom she first appointed to the U.S. Senate when she was governor.
“We’ll let him sleep with that.”
Some employees and donors considered the Mace endorsement as significantly powerful to take, on condition that Haley had campaigned on her behalf after Trump endorsed Mace’s main opponent within the 2022 congressional election, these individuals stated.
During a press convention final week, Mace known as Haley “China’s favorite governor,” a reference to her recruitment of Chinese corporations to the state throughout her time in workplace. She later accused Haley of elevating taxes whereas she was in workplace.
On prime of the political preventing, Haley’s household house has been focused by two swatting incidents, the place armed police rushed to the scene after receiving hoax calls about individuals shot there. Her group has requested U.S. Secret Service safety.
DONORS AND TRUMP FLAGS
Haley doubtless has the sources to remain within the race for a number of extra weeks, based mostly on the fundraising figures her marketing campaign has disclosed. Her marketing campaign stated on Monday that it had raised $16.5 million in January, together with $11.7 million from “grassroots supporters.” That is greater than it raised within the second and third quarters of 2023.
Some main Haley donors have ended their assist since her loss to Trump within the New Hampshire main on Jan. 23 or indicated it will likely be winding down. An advisor to Reid Hoffman, the billionaire co-founder of LinkedIn, informed Reuters he was pausing his assist after her New Hampshire loss, whereas metals magnate Andy Sabin stated she wanted to drop out.
Others, like enterprise capitalist Tim Draper, have stated they’re sticking by her. Several of her contributors informed Reuters they admire her willingness to face as much as Trump, even when her odds are exceedingly lengthy. Others say she must maintain racking up delegates so she emerges because the back-up plan to face Democratic President Joe Biden within the November common election, in case Trump’s authorized points meet up with him.
At the current occasion in Hilton Head, an prosperous seaside resort city fashionable with vacationers and retirees, a bunch of demonstrators waved Trump flags exterior the restaurant the place Haley spoke and a heckler interrupted her speech at one level earlier than being escorted out.
Many grassroots backers, nonetheless, made it clear they need Haley to remain within the race. While her crowds have been notably smaller than these at Trump occasions, voters stuffed a high-school auditorium for her rally in Lancaster final week, and the bar the place she made her Hilton Head cease was standing room solely.
One supporter, Patricia Shapiro, a 68-year-old doctor, stated she was upset that Republican leaders have been making an attempt to drive Haley from the race after simply two states – Iowa and New Hampshire – had forged ballots.
“This is supposed to be an election,” she stated. “This is not supposed to be turning it off after the first two primaries.”
Another supporter, Kim Barch, stated that whether or not or not Haley wins in South Carolina, she ought to maintain campaigning so voters not less than have a alternative.
“This isn’t a coronation,” Barch added. “I think she needs to go a little bit further.”