CHARLESTON, South Carolina — Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley pledged to stay in the Republican race for president after she lost her home state’s primary on Saturday.

The Associated Press called the race for Trump at 7 p.m. Eastern, the minute the polls closed in South Carolina, who is leading Haley 60.4% to 39% at the time of writing. Despite losing the first five Republican nominating contests of 2024, Haley vowed that she isn’t going anywhere during a speech at her watch party event in Charleston.

“I know 40% is not 50%, but I also know 40% is not some tiny group. There are huge numbers of voters in our Republican primary who are saying they want an alternative,” Haley told her supporters. “I said earlier this week that no matter what happens in South Carolina, I wouldn’t continue to run — I’m a woman of my word.”

Haley hoped for a big turn out in her home state and attempted to remind her former constituents of her policy achievements as their governor ahead of voting day. The Republican was governor from 2011 to 2017 before going to work in the Trump administration as U.N. Ambassador, and previously served for three terms in the state legislature.

A majority of South Carolinians weren’t weighing Haley’s home state roots as they took to the polls, according to a CBS News/YouGov survey released Feb. 12 of likely Republican primary voters. The same poll found that 89% were considering national issues as opposed to state ones.

“I’m not giving up this fight when a majority of Americans disapprove of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden,” Haley continued. “South Carolina has spoken, we’re the fourth state to do so. In the next 10 days, another 21 states and territories will speak. They have the right to a real choice. Not a Soviet-style election with only one candidate.”

Haley’s supporters that attended her watch party in South Carolina told the Daily Caller News Foundation they’re glad she’s staying in the race, regardless of her loss to Trump.

“I’m disappointed with the outcome, for sure. I thought it was going to be a little bit closer,” Jeff Heikkinen, a 41-year-old golf caddie who lives in Ridgeville, told the DCNF. “I’m very excited she’s staying in. Like she said a few times, the whole country gets to decide, right? Trump’s not the incumbent. So I’m glad, I’m proud of her for staying in.”

The Republican previously voted for Trump, but said he’s hoping Haley can solve the division in the country.

Rachel Geilenfeld, who is 40 and works in the energy industry, travelled to the Palmetto State from Iowa to volunteer for Haley’s campaign. The lifelong Republican wrote in her preferred candidate in previous presidential cycles and told the DCNF she has “never voted for Trump and I never will.”

“Absolutely glad she’s staying in, we need her to keep fighting,” Geilenfeld said. “We need a new generation of leadership, it’s time to turn the page past this chaos. The vast majority of Americans do not want two 80-year-old white men contending for president. We need a fresh face.”

Diane Lafferty, a 67-year-old realtor who travelled in from Delaware for the watch party, is supporting Haley in protest of both Trump and Biden.

“Well, she’s hangin’ in there. I think she’s tough, and she’ll make it,” Lafferty, who voted for Biden in the last election but considers herself an independent voter, told the DCNF.

Haley came in third place in Iowa, second place in New Hampshire and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and lost to the “None of These Candidates” option in the Nevada primary, which did not count for delegates.

The next nominating contest is in Michigan, where Trump is currently beating Haley 66.7% to 15% in the RealClearPolitics average. The former president also has massive leads in major Super Tuesday states like Alabama, California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, according to a Morning Consult survey released Feb. 7.

Mary Lou Masters on February 24, 2024

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