Trump easily wins South Carolina but Haley fights on

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Trump easily wins South Carolina but Haley fights on

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Donald Trump is one step closer to the Republican presidential nomination after a massive win over Nikki Haley in South Carolina.

The former president won his primary opponent’s home state by a 20-point margin, his fourth consecutive victory.

Mr Trump made no mention of his rival as he celebrated, setting his sights instead on the general election in November.

That will be a likely rematch with his successor in the White House.

“We’re going to look Joe Biden right in the eye,” he told supporters minutes after US media projected him as the winner on Saturday night. “He’s destroying our country – and we’re going to say ‘get out Joe, you’re fired’.”

Mr Trump lauded his party’s “unity” after Saturday’s result, saying: “There’s never been a spirit like this. I have never seen the Republican Party so unified.”

It marked a shift from his response to last month’s primary in New Hampshire, where he raged against Ms Haley for “doing a speech like she won”.

Ms Haley, who once served as a popular two-term governor of South Carolina, congratulated her opponent on his victory in her speech.

She vowed to stay in the race, however, saying the roughly 40% of the vote she received was “not some tiny group”.

“There are huge numbers of voters in our Republican primaries who are saying they want an alternative,” she said, emphasising that her continued campaign was not about her own political ambitions.

“I’m not giving up this fight when a majority of Americans disapprove of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden,” she added.

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The Trump campaign dismissed Ms Haley’s continued effort in a statement on Saturday, stating that her “delusion is clouding her judgement, and she is no longer living in reality”.

In the days leading up to the South Carolina vote, the Trump campaign predicted the former president will accumulate enough delegates to formally clinch the nomination within the next month.

Ms Haley does not have a clear path forward – her opponent has a large lead in the delegate count and is polling far ahead in all future contests.

And yet the Haley campaign is still standing, in large part, due to contributions from deep-pocketed donors. That flow of cash has continued despite her facing long odds.

Ms Haley raised $16.5m in January alone, campaign officials said. That was her largest monthly total so far, and much more than Mr Trump’s numbers.

To drive home the point that he believes the primary has now ended, Mr Trump wasted no time in making his victory speech moments after the race was called, not allowing Ms Haley to speak before him as she had done in New Hampshire.

Nearly two dozen allies flanked Mr Trump during his victory speech

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Flanked at his podium on the Columbia state fairgrounds by nearly two dozen allies, including most of the state’s political leaders, he told a raucous crowd: “This was a little sooner than we anticipated.”

Mr Trump certainly has much to boast about with this win. Exit polling conducted by the BBC’s US partner, CBS News, shows that the ex-president bested Ms Haley with both men and women, and among all age groups.

Lauding them for their support, Mr Trump, 77, reminded his audience: “We have a lot of work ahead of us.”

But it does not seem he will be able to fully turn his attention to the general election just yet.

Ms Haley re-committed to staying in the race until at least Super Tuesday – 5 March – when voters in 16 states will cast their ballots on the same day.

“I’m a woman of my word,” the former UN ambassador said. “We’re headed to Michigan tomorrow, and we’re headed to the Super Tuesday states throughout all of next week.”

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The former president also remains beleaguered by his many legal troubles, and faces the first of four criminal trials next month

He is also now on the hook for more than half a billion dollars, the combined total of two recent civil trial rulings against him in New York – one for sexual assault and defamation, and another for business fraud.

As Mr Biden racks up a sizeable cash advantage over him in what will likely be the most expensive presidential race in US history, Mr Trump is increasingly relying on donations to cover his soaring legal costs.

It appears the Republican Party could come to his aid. He has consolidated his hold over it by endorsing key allies to lead its national committee.

His daughter-in-law Lara Trump, his pick to take over as co-chair of the Republican Party, has pledged to “spend every penny” of party funds on his legal defence.

Related Topics

  • Republican Party
  • South Carolina
  • Nikki Haley
  • US election 2024
  • Donald Trump
  • US politics
  • United States

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