Former South Carolina Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks to supporters Wednesday in North Charleston. (Photos by Myles Harris/Carolina News and Reporter)
Nikki Haley returned to South Carolina on Wednesday after her defeat in New Hampshire’s Republican primary.
Former President Donald Trump beat Haley by 10 percentage points in the primary on Tuesday – collecting 12 additional delegates toward the party’s nomination.
Haley held her homecoming rally in North Charleston. Despite Tuesday’s loss, supporters appeared to be in high spirits. U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman introduced her.
“These so-called experts say she needs to get out – but she gives you a reason to vote for her, not against her,” Norman said to a cheering crowd.
W.H. Rose served in the Air Force. She said she supported Haley during her tenure as governor and plans to vote for her again.
“She is for justice,” Rose said. “She is qualified – overqualified – governor, ambassador. She knows the ins and outs.”
Several supporters expressed skepticism about Haley’s ability to beat Trump.
While some have decided they would abstain from the general election if she were to lose, many said their vote would go to the former president.
“Probably. Reluctantly,” Andrew Dodd said.
Haley’s stump speech touted her record as governor. She highlighted the age gap between herself and Trump, calling his mental fitness into question. Last week, he confused her with former Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Haley went on to criticize the Biden administration’s handling of the economy. Her disapproval extended across party lines to Congressional Republicans and their support of the American Rescue Plan during the pandemic.
“We are 34 trillion dollars in debt,” she told the crowd. “Now, I would love to tell you that Biden did that to us. But I’ve always spoken to you in hard truths, through good times and bad. And I’m going to do that with you tonight – our Republicans did that to us, too.”
A pro-Palestinian protester disrupted the rally as Haley discussed U.S. national security interests in the Middle East.
“Nikki Haley!” the protester shouted. “How about the genocide happening in Palestine? What are you doing about that? How many kids have you killed?”
Security escorted the woman outside.
Haley appeared unruffled. After a chorus of boos, attendees began chanting her name in a show of support.
“You know, I never mind protestors like that, because my husband and his military brothers and sisters sacrificed for us every day for them to be able to do that,” she said.
During her time as ambassador to the United Nations, the Trump administration faced controversy for its decision to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
Haley throughout her campaign has maintained fervent support for Israel and its recent military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Haley concluded the night with a final pledge to voters.
“If you join us in this fight, I promise I will do exactly what I did for you as governor of South Carolina,” she said. “I will spend every single day trying to make you proud.”
Haley is polling far behind Trump in her home state, down in some polls by 40 percentage points.
S.C. Republicans will decide her fate Feb. 24.
ABOUT THE JOURNALISTS
Tudor is a senior journalism major at the University of South Carolina. She has worked in corporate communications in Switzerland and the United States. Tudor is interested in politics and aspires to be an investigative political reporter.
Harris is a senior graphic design major and mass communications minor. He is a self-taught photographer with a growing interest in photojournalism. He aspires to be a sports media photographer and designer.
Former South Carolina Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks at the Embassy Suites in North Charleston on Jan. 24, 2024, ahead of the upcoming state primary. (Photos by Myles Harris/Carolina News and Reporter)