Trump defeats Haley in South Carolina, her home state

Haley has repeatedly insisted she will persevere until at least Super Tuesday, March 5, when more than a dozen states will hold presidential-preference contests.

President Donald Trump takes the stage at the Trump Headquarters in Columbia, S.C., after defeating Nikki Haley in her home state on Feb. 24, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Former President Donald Trump has once again racked up a decisive victory over Republican challenger Nikki Haley. This time, he is running a victory lap around the former South Carolina governor in her home state.

The Associated Press called the South Carolina Republican presidential primary election for President Trump shortly after polls closed statewide at 7 p.m. ET.

“There’s a spirit that I’ve never seen,” President Trump told supporters in his victory speech at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds in Columbia.

The former president said that his campaign is now moving on to focus on defeating President Joe Biden.

“You’re fired, Joe. Get out,” President Trump said.

Even before the first tallies were released, Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung released a statement Saturday declaring an end to the primary.

“The primary ends tonight and it is time to turn to the general election so we can defeat Crooked Joe and end his assault on the American people,” referring to Democrat President Joe Biden.

For many candidates, suffering a loss on home turf could be considered a coup de grâce of political humiliation.

South Carolina GOP Chair Drew McKissick noted that the Palmetto State has long been considered “the graveyard of presidential campaigns.”

That’s for several reasons. Prior to South Carolina’s first-in-the-south primary, there are only a handful of other contests for candidates to try to conquer.

But post-Palmetto, candidates must have sufficient finances and manpower to compete nationwide. Therefore, South Carolina typically represents a candidate’s last chance to make a good impression on voters and donors before they must run a more complex gauntlet.

Another reason presidential hopefuls often decide to hang it up after losing in South Carolina: Every successful presidential candidate since 1980 had secured a South Carolina primary win en route to the White House victory.

When asked whether he thought Ms. Haley might be able to pull off a surprise win, Mr. McKissick laughed as he told The Epoch Times: “I live here in the real world … and I know what I’ve been seeing, organization-wise and endorsement-wise.”

President Trump had outgunned Ms. Haley on all fronts as far as he could see; Mr. McKissick was unable to cite any good, logical reason for her to continue.

Yet Ms. Haley has repeatedly insisted she will persevere until at least Super Tuesday, March 5, when more than a dozen states will hold presidential-preference contests.

“I’m running for president because we have a country to save, and I’ve been reminded of how important that is every step of the way,” Ms. Haley said in a post on X.

As voters headed to the voting booths in South Carolina, fans of Ms. Haley applauded her tenacity even while they acknowledged that she was poised for her fifth straight election loss to President Trump.

Although polls suggested President Trump would beat Ms. Haley by double digits in South Carolina, her supporters argued she should press on to give GOP voters a Trump alternative. Even people who favor President Trump’s policies worry about the impact of his numerous legal battles and his sometimes-abrasive style. Some, including Ms. Haley, doubt he can beat President Biden in the general election.

According to the RealClearPolitics (RCP) average of opinion polls, Ms. Haley was beating President Biden by almost 5 percent in a theoretical matchup, while President Trump was ahead of the incumbent by only about 2 percent. Considering that many polls carry a margin of error around 4 percent, Ms. Haley’s lead over President Biden is not a comfortable one.

Yet Republican leaders point to the former president’s continued ability to draw huge crowds to rallies, such as the 6,000-seat coliseum in Rock Hill, South Carolina, the night before the primary. More importantly, he seems able to get the voters to head to the polls even with his victory touted as a done deal.

About 208,000 people voted early in this year’s South Carolina Republican primary, about 75,000 people more than the Democrats had for their entire Feb. 3 contest, Mr. McKissick said. And that was even before a single vote was counted on the in-person voting day, Feb. 24, Mr. McKissick said.

Based on the political landscape, Mr. Cheung accused Ms. Haley of being wildly unrealistic.

“Nikki Haley’s delusion is clouding her judgment, and she is no longer living in reality.”

President Trump ran the table in the four GOP contests held thus far: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

And he won by historically-large margins. Some interpret the results as a resounding mandate from GOP voters who want him to reclaim the White House. His staunchest supporters maintain that President Trump was wrongfully ousted after a corrupt 2020 election. They consider his successor to be an illegitimate president who has subjected his political foe to unfair persecution ever since — allegations that President Biden and his supporters deny.

With each successive defeat of Ms. Halley, calls for her to withdraw from the race have increased in both volume and frequency.

President Trump’s supporters and a chorus of political analysts are dismissing Ms. Haley’s continued campaigning as a foolish waste of resources at a time when Republicans’ war chest is embarrassingly empty. To boot, Republicans resent seeing so many Democrats making big donations to keep Ms. Haley’s campaign afloat.

Regardless of what either of the warring factions says, nothing speaks louder than the end result, Mr. McKissick, the GOP chair, said.

“That’s the great thing I love about politics: The scoreboard,” he told The Epoch Times. “You know, people can talk all the stuff; they sell it. But at the end of the day, somebody’s gonna be right and somebody’s going to be wrong … there’s no, you know, participation trophies.”


Janice Hisle