Nikki Haley, a trailblazer in the South Carolina primary, says she won't quit

  • By Holly Honderich
  • In Washington

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Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley has vowed to stay in the race regardless of the outcome of Saturday's South Carolina primary, despite falling badly behind Donald Trump.

Tough polls in her home state – more than three consecutive losses for Mr Trump – have fueled speculation that Ms Haley could soon drop out of the race.

“I'm not,” said Greenville, South Carolina. “Far from it.”

He promised to complete at least 16 races on Super Tuesday – March 5.

“I refuse to quit,” Ms. Haley said to applause. “South Carolina will vote on Saturday. But on Sunday, I'll still be running for president. I'm not going anywhere.”

Mr Trump is spending his time further cementing his position as the Republican front-runner with a landslide victory in South Carolina.

He and Ms Haley have been in a head-to-head race for the Republican nomination since Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suspended his campaign in January.

At a town hall event in Greenville on Tuesday night, Mr Trump said he believed Ms Haley “didn't know how to get out” of the race.

“She can't get out,” Mr Trump said. “If she was good, I'd understand. But she's doing so badly.”

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But Ms. Haley, a former governor of South Carolina, couldn't catch Mr. Trump. Recent polls from South Carolina show him trailing the former president by about 30 points. Nationally, that margin is even higher.

However, Ms Haley continued her campaign in earnest, planning events across the country. He has gone so far as to announce campaign committees in Texas, Georgia, Vermont and California.

During his remarks in Greenville on Tuesday, the former governor acknowledged his underdog status when he dismissed the “political elites and party bosses” who have written off his campaign.

He again cast himself as a younger, stable alternative to both Mr Trump and President Joe Biden – calling them two “old men” on Tuesday.

The former UN ambassador, who served under Mr Trump, continued to sharpen his criticism of his former boss, calling him a “disaster” and assessing him as “more volatile and unhinged” than he was during his first turn in the White House. House.

“He's completely distracted,” she said, pointing to his many legal troubles. “It's all about him.”

Ms. Haley's long-term effort was fueled by generous donations from deep donors. Campaign officials said earlier this month that he had raised $16.5m (£13m) in January.

“We have the resources to go the distance,” Haley's campaign manager, Betsy Ankney, told reporters last month.

But despite being determined to see results on Super Tuesday, Ms Haley's vote on Saturday could be her last chance to prove to prospective voters that she can distance and truly challenge Mr Trump.

If he can't rally support in his home state, the narrow path to a nomination will narrow further.

On Super Tuesday — March 5 — there will be 16 contests for 874 Republican delegates. That's more than a third of the 2,429 total delegates awarded this year.

A candidate must win half of the total to become the Republican nominee. So far, Ms Haley has won 17 delegates.

Despite the long odds, Ms Haley remained committed to the process and said the US was not holding “a Soviet-style election where there is only one candidate and he gets 99% of the vote”.

“We don't anoint kings in this country,” he added. “We have elections, and all the people need to know is Donald Trump, we didn't rig the elections.

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