Trump Beats Haley in South Carolina GOP Presidential Primary

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump hugs and kisses the American flag as he speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2024, at National Harbor, in Oxon Hill, Md., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (The State (Columbia, S.C.)/TNS) — Continuing his march to the Republican presidential nomination, former President Donald Trump won the South Carolina GOP presidential primary, comfortably beating former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in her home state with approximately 60% of the vote.

The Associated Press called the race at 7 p.m.

This is the first time Haley, who was elected twice as governor and three times as a state representative from Lexington County, lost an election in South Carolina.

With Saturday’s defeat, it remains to be seen if Haley will continue onto Michigan and to Super Tuesday. However, she has remained defiant to the calls that she should drop out of the race.

In a speech Tuesday, she said she would continue beyond Saturday’s primary results.

“Well, I’m not afraid to say the hard truths out loud. I feel no need to kiss the ring. And I have no fear of Trump’s retribution,” Haley said Tuesday. “I’m not looking for anything from him. My own political future is of zero concern.”

But Haley faces questions whether donors will continue to support her campaign, as ultimately having the money come in will be key to keeping her effort going.

“Nikki Haley has been raising money significantly better than her standing and her poll numbers would indicate,” said Dave Wilson, a longtime GOP strategist in South Carolina. “There are a lot of Republicans who are still out there right now that do not want Donald Trump in office again. Those are the people who are looking past the poll numbers to invest in a known quality of a candidate in Nikki Haley who they see as their opportunity to bring an end to Donald Trump’s run for president, or at least challenge it.”

Haley’s campaign has said it has resources to continue and boasted raising $16.5 million in January. She has events planned going forward including a swing in Michigan, which holds its primary Tuesday, and events leading up to Super Tuesday on March 5 when 15 states and American Somoa hold nominating contests.

Haley’s campaign Friday announced a seven-figure cable and digital advertising buy ahead of Super Tuesday.

“Our fundraising continues to grow,” said Haley Campaign Manager Betsy Ankney. “We are fully confident that we will have the resources to compete moving forward.”

Trump remains in the driver’s seat for GOP nomination

Winning the S.C. GOP primary is key to any presidential campaign. Since 1980 the winner of South Carolina’s nominating contest has gone on to win the GOP nomination every time except for 2012.

Trump has now won the first four early contests as he has remained the front-runner in the GOP race since announcing his reelection run in November 2022.

Trump’s lead in the polls from early in 2023 to Saturday’s primary also meant his campaign did not have to spend heavily on media advertising. Trump only went on air in South Carolina roughly a week-and-a-half before the primary. Haley and aligned groups began advertising in South Carolina television markets on Jan. 24.

With additional reporting by wire services.

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