Trailing By Double Digits, Nikki Haley Makes Final Plea For Votes In Her Home State

Political News

MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina — Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is making her final plea to voters in her home state just days before they take to the polls.

Former President Donald Trump continues to lead Haley by double digits in her home state, where he has the support from nearly all of South Carolina’s top Republicans. Despite her tough odds, Haley reminded South Carolinians of her record as governor during a campaign rally in Myrtle Beach on Thursday, and asked them for their vote once again ahead of Saturday’s primary.

“I look at this crowd, and I think about what we did together,” Haley told the attendees. “When I came in as governor, those times were tough. We had 11% unemployment. We have thousands of people on welfare, and  South Carolina was the butt of the joke. And what did we do? We rallied, and we got together and we got to work.”

Haley touted various achievements from her time as the state’s executive, including bringing manufacturing jobs to South Carolina, lowering unemployment, cutting taxes, implementing voter ID and passing legislation cracking down on illegal immigration. The former governor was handily elected twice in the red state, but left office in 2017 when Trump appointed her as U.N. ambassador.

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The former governor also ramped up her attacks on Trump during her speech over national security policy, adding trillions to the national debt, tanking border security negotiations in Congress, his ability to win a general election, his legal challenges and more. Haley encouraged voters to support her over the former president on Saturday due to what she views as “chaos” surrounding Trump.

“We don’t anoint kings in America, we have elections. South Carolinians deserve the right to vote, just like every other state,” said Haley.

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Haley came in third place in the Iowa caucus on Jan. 15, and placed second behind only Trump in the New Hampshire primary the following week. The former governor did not compete for delegates in the Nevada caucus, and instead lost to the “None of These Candidates” option on Feb. 6.

The RealClearPolitics average for a 2024 South Carolina primary, based on polls conducted between Feb. 13 and Feb. 18, indicates Trump is leading the former governor by 25 points. Haley has received pressure to withdraw from the race as Trump’s dominance in the primary becomes more prominent, but she vowed on Tuesday to stay in even if she loses her home state.

“I need you to get everybody you know to go vote on Saturday,” Haley told her supporters. “I need you to take a yard sign and if you can’t put a yard sign in your yard, put in the back of your car. And I need you to make sure that you let your voices be heard. Tell your friends, tell your family email everybody, check them all. This is the time South Carolina can really step up and show the direction that we want our country to go in. I believe in you, I’ve always trusted you, I’ve always known that South Carolina truly is the best state in the country.”

South Carolina doesn’t register its voters by party affiliation, allowing registered voters to participate in any primary of their choosing. The state’s Democratic primary took place on Feb. 3, which President Joe Biden won overwhelmingly.

Shari Donovan, a recently retired insurance worker who lives in Surfside Beach, approved of the job Haley did as governor, and told the DCNF she liked how the Republican “wasn’t part of the ‘good old boys’ network.” The Haley supporter said she’s a Republican, but is strongly against Trump.

“We are anti-Trump fans, absolutely 150,000% against — I’m not going to have a sexual assault, convicted fraudster as a candidate that I’m gonna vote for, that’s for sure,” said Donovan, including her husband, Mike’s, sentiment. “I’d vote for Mickey Mouse before I’d vote for Donald Trump.”

Donovan told the DCNF that if Haley weren’t running in the GOP primary, she would’ve voted for Biden two weeks ago. The Haley supporter vowed to support Biden if Trump is the Republican nominee.

Glenn Graber, a retired Myrtle Beach resident, told the DCNF that he voted for Haley early, but doesn’t expect her to win on Saturday.

“I voted for [Trump] twice, I will not vote for him again. Not after what I’ve seen there with the insurrection, not after the way he talks about veterans and women — the man’s sick, quite frankly,” said Graber. “It’s a shame that in this country we don’t have a better choice.”

The retiree hopes the Supreme Court bars the former president from the ballot and gives Haley an opening, he told the DCNF. Garber is hoping someone can address the division in the U.S., the war in Ukraine and the border crisis.

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Mark Chandler of Myrtle Beach, who is a professor at the Coastal Carolina University and a retired Department of Defense official, believes Haley has a “strong legacy” from both her time as governor and as U.N. ambassador. The Republican voted for Haley early, but said he’d likely support Trump if he’s the nominee.

“I think Nikki [is] well-balanced, and probably [has] the best chance to go against Biden,” Chandler told the DCNF. “She’s coming up with some substantive comments on the issues. She’s not just hitting the bullet points and sound bites. I think she’s really coming in with what the voters need to hear and want to hear if they can get past the noise of the [others].”

Amy Dougherty, a 49-year-old nurse who lives in Myrtle Beach, told the DCNF that she’s undecided on who to support on Saturday, but came to hear Haley speak.

“I’m tired of the usual,” Dougherty told the DCNF. “Rather than doing anything, it’s just them pointing fingers and fighting, not getting anything done.”

The nurse said she voted for Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020, but will support the former president if he’s the nominee as he’s the “lesser of two evils.”

Jeremy Bloom, a 46-year-old construction worker who is also undecided on the race, told the DCNF that his top issues are border security and reeling in government spending and regulations. The Myrtle Beach resident supported Trump in both of the previous elections, but “thinks it’s time for a change in Washington.”

“I think [Haley’s] got some good attributes, but it’s kind of a stale message right now. It seems like it’s a loop,” said Bloom. “It’s kind of, how do we stop trying to go after Donald Trump, and start talking about what she can do, what she will do. And so it’s like, looking for that transformation in her campaign.”

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