‘The fight isn’t over:’ Haley vows to stay in GOP race after Trump declared winner of NH primary

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MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Nikki Haley, the last major GOP opponent of Donald Trump, insisted she would not drop out after she lost Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary to the former president, who aimed for a commanding victory to make a November rematch with President Joe Biden more likely than ever.

Haley’s loss represents a significant defeat for anti-Trump forces that still exist within the Republican Party.

Trump’s allies were already ramping up pressure on the former U.N. ambassador to leave the race if she falls by a large margin. She had focused considerable resources on New Hampshire, hoping to capitalize on the state’s independent streak as she looked for an upset or at least a tight loss that could dent Trump’s continued domination of Republican politics.

“I’m running against Donald Trump, and I’m not going to talk about an obituary,” Haley told reporters.

Trump retorted Tuesday, “Let her do whatever she wants,” saying voters will deliver the nomination to him anyway. His aides have argued for several days that Haley has no realistic path if she loses in New Hampshire.

The result was a setback for former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who invested significant time and financial resources into winning the state but finished second. She is the last major challenger in the race after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ended his presidential bid over the weekend, allowing her to campaign as the sole alternative to Trump. Haley intensified her criticism of the former president, questioning his mental acuity and pitching herself as a unifying candidate who would usher in generational change.

The appeals failed to resonate with enough voters. Trump can now boast of being the first Republican presidential candidate to win open races in Iowa and New Hampshire since both states began leading the election calendar in 1976, a striking sign of how rapidly Republicans have rallied around him to make him their nominee for the third consecutive time.

By posting easy wins in both early states, Trump is demonstrating an ability to unite the GOP’s factions firmly behind him. He’s garnered support from the evangelical conservatives who are influential in Iowa and New Hampshire’s more moderate voters, strength he hopes to replicate as the primary quickly expands to the rest of the U.S.

Haley was unable to capitalize on New Hampshire’s more moderate political tradition. Now, her path to becoming the GOP standard-bearer is narrowing quickly. She won’t compete in a contest that awards delegates until South Carolina’s Feb. 24 primary. As the state’s former governor, she’s hoping a strong showing there could propel her into the March 5 Super Tuesday contests. But in a deeply conservative state where Trump is exceedingly popular, those ambitions may be tough to realize and a home-state loss could prove politically devastating.

Haley vowed Tuesday night to stay in the race and push ahead to South Carolina.

“New Hampshire is first in the nation; it is not the last in the nation,” she said. “This race is far from over. There are dozens of states left to go.”

About half of GOP primary voters in New Hampshire said they are very or somewhat concerned that Trump is too extreme to win the general election, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of the state’s electorate. Only about one-third say the same about Haley.

Trump wins New Hampshire primary as rematch with President Biden appears increasingly likely

Trump lost New Hampshire in both of his general election campaigns. Biden finished a distant fifth in the Democrats’ 2020 primary before going on to win the nomination. In the November 2020 election, Biden won 52.7% of the vote to Trump’s 45.4%.

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