Nikki Haley says she won’t have to win in South Carolina to still claim victory

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Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley insisted Thursday that she won’t actually have to win in her home state in order to achieve victory there — after two big losses in the first two states to vote in the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.

Speaking with reporters after a campaign event in South Carolina, Haley was asked what victory in the state’s Republican primary on February 24 would look like for her.

“I think making sure it’s a competitive race, making sure it looks close. If we do that, we’ll be heading to Michigan and Super Tuesday and that’s what we’re looking forward to,” she said.

When asked if she would remain in the race by finishing second, she stressed that she “will not go anywhere.”

“It’s just about closing that gap,” she said.

She said her campaign was not an “anti-Trump movement.”

“Ultimately, I do this because the party that comes out with the leader of a new generation is the party that will win,” she said. “I’m doing this because I don’t want my children to live like this.”

Haley has emerged as the last major alternative remaining to former President Donald Trump in the race for the Republican nomination after rival Ron DeSantis ended his campaign in January following a wide second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses.

Photo: Republican presidential candidate and former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during her rally on the night of the New Hampshire presidential primary, in Concord, New Hampshire, January 23, 2024.

Republican presidential candidate and former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during her rally on the night of the New Hampshire presidential primary, in Concord, New Hampshire, January 23, 2024.

Brian Snyder – Reuters

Haley came in third place in Iowa, just behind DeSantis, but she quickly celebrated a stronger performance in the New Hampshire primary, where she trailed Trump by about 11 points.

She argued, as she did again on Thursday, that her strategy is to lose less and less to Trump and then, at some point around Super Tuesday in March, when many states vote at once, to start beating him.

“We went from 2% to 20% in Iowa. Then we went, and we got 43% [in] New Hampshire. But do you know what the long story is? Donald Trump did not receive 43% of the votes. “That should scare you,” Haley told voters in Columbia, South Carolina, on Thursday.

She currently trails Trump by about 31 points in the polls in South Carolina. According to 538. While her support has increased recently, so has Trump’s support.

Trump targeted her for not withdrawing from the race after her initial defeats in the first two voting states in the race.

“What crook has ever gotten on stage and claimed victory? She did very poorly,” Trump said on New Hampshire primary night.

“She’s giving a speech like she won,” Trump said at the time. “She didn’t win. She lost.”

This article originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

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