Nikki Haley hasn’t yet won a GOP contest. But she’s vowing to keep fighting Donald Trump

Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley gives a speech on the state of her campaign on Feb. 20, 2024, in Greenville, S.C. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

GREENVILLE, S.C. — There are no wins on the horizon for Nikki Haley. 

Those close to the former United Nations ambassador, the last major Republican candidate standing in Donald Trump’s path to the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination, are privately bracing for a blowout loss in her home state’s primary election in South Carolina on Saturday. And they cannot name a state where she is likely to beat Trump in the coming weeks. 

But in an emotional address on Tuesday, Haley declared, “I refuse to quit.” 

And in an interview, she vowed to stay in the fight against Trump at least until after Super Tuesday’s slate of more than a dozen contests on March 5 — even if she suffers a big loss in her home state Saturday. 

“Ten days after South Carolina, another 20 states vote. I mean, this isn’t Russia. We don’t want someone to go in and just get 99% of the vote,” Haley told The Associated Press. “What is the rush? Why is everybody so panicked about me having to get out of this race?” 

As Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement presses for her exit, a defiant Haley on Tuesday repeatedly likened Trump to Democratic President Joe Biden —and both as too old, too divisive and too unpopular to be the only options for voters this fall. 

She also pushed back when asked if there is any primary state where she can defeat Trump. 

“Instead of asking me what states I’m gonna win, why don’t we ask how he’s gonna win a general election after spending a full year in a courtroom?” 

History would suggest Haley has no chance of stopping Trump. 

Never before has a Republican lost even the first two primary contests, as Haley has by an average of 21 points, and gone on the win the party’s presidential nomination. Polls suggest she is a major underdog in her home state on Saturday and in the 16 Super Tuesday contests to follow. And since he announced his first presidential bid in 2015, every effort by a Republican to blunt Trump’s rise has failed. 

The lone member of Congress who has endorsed Haley, Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., acknowledged that it may be difficult to win South Carolina, a state where she lives and served two terms as governor. 

“Obviously, you want to win them all, but for those who say it’s going to embarrass her, or end her political career, I disagree. She’s willing to take that risk,” Norman said in an interview. “I think it’s a courageous thing she’s doing.” 

Moving forward, Haley’s team is especially focused on several Super Tuesday states with open or semi-open Republican primaries that allows a broader collection of voters to participate — especially independents and moderates — instead of just hardcore conservatives. 

Ahead of the speech, Trump’s campaign released a memo predicting that Haley would be forced out of the race after losing her home state Saturday. 

“The true ‘State’ of Nikki Haley’s campaign?” Trump’s campaign chiefs wrote. “Broken down, out of ideas, out of gas, and completely outperformed by every measure, by Donald Trump.” 

Eager to pivot toward a general election matchup against Biden, the Republican former president is also taking aggressive steps to assume control of the Republican National Committee, the GOP’s nationwide political machine, which is supposed to stay neutral in presidential primary elections. Last week, Trump announced plans to install his campaign’s senior adviser Chris LaCivita, as RNC’s chief operating officer and daughter-in-law Lara Trump as the committee’s co-chair.