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US Presidential election: Donald Trump wins South Carolina, easily beating Nikki Haley in her home state

Haley raised copious amounts of campaign money and is scheduled to begin a cross-country campaign swing on Sunday in Michigan ahead of Super Tuesday on March 5, when many delegate-rich states hold primaries. But it's unclear how she can stop Trump from clinching enough delegates.

Raju Kumar Edited By: Raju Kumar @rajudelhi123 Charleston Updated on: February 25, 2024 7:28 IST
Donald Trump wins South Carolina
Image Source : AP Donald Trump wins South Carolina

Former US President and Presidential candidate Donald Trump won South Carolina's Republican primary on Saturday, easily beating former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley in her home state. The victory further consolidated Trump's path to a third straight GOP nomination.

With South Carolina win, Trump now swept every contest that counted for Republican delegates, adding to previous wins in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and the US Virgin Islands. 

Trump's latest victory narrowed the chances for Haley, who was Trump's former representative to the UN and South Carolina Governor from 2011 to 2017, in the Presidential race.

However, Haley vowed to stay in the race through at least the batch of primaries on March 5, known as Super Tuesday, but was unable to dent Trump's momentum in her home state despite holding far more campaign events and arguing that the indictments against Trump will hamstring him against Biden.

The Associated Press declared Trump the winner as polls closed statewide at 7 pm. That race call was based on an analysis of AP VoteCast, a comprehensive survey of Republican South Carolina primary voters. The survey confirmed the findings of pre-Election Day polls showing Trump far outpacing Haley statewide.

“I have never seen the Republican Party so unified as it is right now,” Trump declared, taking the stage for his victory speech mere moments after polls closed. He added, “You can celebrate for about 15 minutes, but then we have to get back to work.”

South Carolina's first-in-the-South primary has historically been a reliable bellwether for Republicans. In all but one primary since 1980, the Republican winner in South Carolina has gone on to be the party's nominee. The lone exception was Newt Gingrich in 2012.

Many Trump-backing South Carolinians, even some who previously supported Haley during her time as Governor, weren't willing to give her a home-state bump.

“She's done some good things,” Davis Paul, 36, said about Haley as he waited for Trump at a recent rally in Conway. “But I just don't think she's ready to tackle a candidate like Trump. I don't think many people can.”

At Haley headquarters on Saturday night, her supporters waved her signs in front of a large projection screen showing Trump's speech, blocking it from view. That, of course, didn't make the defeat any less crushing.

Haley insisted in recent days that she would head straight to Michigan for its Tuesday primary, the last major contest before Super Tuesday. Still, she faces questions about where she might be able to win a contest or be competitive.

Trump and Biden are already behaving like they expect to face off in November. Trump and his allies argue Biden has made the US weaker and point to the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and Russia's decision to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Trump has also repeatedly attacked Biden over high inflation earlier in the president's term and his handling of record-high migrant crossings at the US-Mexico border.

Trump has questioned — often in harshly personal terms — whether the 81-year-old Biden is too old to serve a second term. Biden's team in turn has highlighted the 77-year-old Trump's own flubs on the campaign trail.

Biden has stepped up his recent fundraising trips around the country and increasingly attacked Trump directly. He's called Trump and his “Make America Great Again” movement dire threats to the nation's founding principles, and the president's reelection campaign has lately focused most of its attention on Trump suggesting he'd use the first day of a second presidency as a dictator and that he'd tell Russia to attack NATO allies who fail to keep up with defense spending obligations mandated by the alliance.

Haley also criticized Trump on his NATO comments and also for questioning why her husband wasn't on the campaign trail with her — even as former first lady Melania Trump hasn't appeared with him.

Maj. Michael Haley is deployed in the Horn of Africa on a mission with the South Carolina Army National Guard.

But South Carolina's Republican voters line up with Trump on having lukewarm feelings about NATO and continued US support for Ukraine, according to AP VoteCast data from Saturday's primary.
About 6 in 10 oppose continuing aid to Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

Only about a third described America's participation in NATO as “very good,” with more saying it's only “somewhat good.”

(With AP inputs)

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