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Trump won N.H. primary, but Haley says there's no reason to quit the race


Now, one of the reasons Nikki Haley is vowing to fight on is that her home state of South Carolina is holding its Republican primary in exactly one month.


NIKKI HALEY: South Carolina voters don't want a coronation. They want an election. And we're going to give them one.


So she will contend against Trump and some other people, who are leading South Carolina politicians. As governor, for example, Haley appointed Tim Scott to the United States Senate, but Scott has endorsed Trump.

MARTIN: So here to talk about what comes next in the nominating contest is NPR's Ashley Lopez. Good morning, Ashley.


MARTIN: All right. So Iowa - over. New Hampshire - over. Walk me through what happens next.

LOPEZ: Well, the very next contest is in Nevada on February 8. That's when the Republican caucus is taking place. But Haley is not contesting that election. Trump has said on social media that he's counting that as another loss for Haley. In fact, he even brought it up last night.


DONALD TRUMP: But just remember - I did hear Nikki say, and now it's off to South Carolina. Well, I love South Carolina. I love it. But, you know, she forgot one thing. Next week it's Nevada.

LOPEZ: In the meantime, Haley has been looking toward her home state in South Carolina. She's in Charleston today, actually. And the party will hold its primary on February 24. This contest, by the way, also doesn't look very good for Haley.

MARTIN: You know, she is not doing well there. She's...

LOPEZ: Yeah.

MARTIN: ...Badly behind, and it is in her home state. And also, as you mentioned, she is not contesting Nevada. Why aren't these states more competitive for her?

LOPEZ: Well, these states are going to be less politically moderate than New Hampshire is, right? They just like Trump more in these states, and they don't have a problem with his style of politics. What I heard in New Hampshire a lot is that people there just don't really like how negative and sort of mean Trump comes across. But in the South, you'll hear voters say that they like to see Trump as a fighter, particularly their fighter, right? So it's just a very different brand of Republican in her next contest. And even though she's from there and she was elected governor there, since Trump, the Republicans in her state are just, like, less into the brand of conservatism that she's selling. In short, Republican voters there are not looking for an alternative to Trump, so there's just, like, not a wide enough lane for Nikki Haley or really any GOP candidate to pick up voters there.

MARTIN: It is curious. I mean...

LOPEZ: Yeah.

MARTIN: ...Particularly in South Carolina, where voters obviously thought enough of Haley to elect her as governor...

LOPEZ: Yeah.

MARTIN: ...But not enough to kind of move her on to the next level - I was just curious. You know, can you just say more about that? Like, what's the uphill climb for her?

LOPEZ: Well, you know, she does do well among Republicans who want an alternative to Trump, obviously, but specifically more moderate voters, even though Haley herself, I should say, is not a moderate Republican, right? She's just not Trump. She has said this time and time again that she supports all of Trump's policies. The only difference is really her delivery.

And I went to a Haley event in southern New Hampshire the night before election day, and a big chunk of the people I spoke to were actually, like, Republicans from Massachusetts, so your more, like, old-school, fiscal-conservative-type Republicans who have serious issues with Trump's personality. And demographically, the voters who Haley will be courting are going to be significantly more religious than these voters here in New England. The voters in the South are also significantly younger than in the Northeast. And lastly, these upcoming states are just more racially and ethnically diverse.

MARTIN: So we keep harping on this, but I think it is a fair question. What are the chances that Haley even makes it to the next primary?

LOPEZ: I mean, her chances are not great, right? But I got to say I'm not surprised to hear her say that she's still in this because, I mean, what else is she going to say, right? While you're running a presidential race, you're all-in, and you're all-in until the very moment you're not. As long as she's in the race, she has to say she's committed because she still needs to fundraise and convince voters to vote for her. So even though the odds are not looking good for her, she's going to say she's running until she's not.

MARTIN: That is NPR's Ashley Lopez. Ashley, thank you.

LOPEZ: Yeah. Thank you.


NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.
Ashley Lopez
Ashley Lopez is a political correspondent for NPR based in Austin, Texas. She joined NPR in May 2022. Prior to NPR, Lopez spent more than six years as a health care and politics reporter for KUT, Austin's public radio station. Before that, she was a political reporter for NPR Member stations in Florida and Kentucky. Lopez is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and grew up in Miami, Florida.