Haley says showing in South Carolina needs to be better than New Hampshire

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on Sunday said that while she doesn’t need to beat former President Donald Trump in her home state’s Republican presidential primary next month, the results need to be better for her than they were in New Hampshire.

“I don’t think it necessarily has to be a win, but it certainly has to be better than what I did in New Hampshire, and it certainly has to be close. … If we win – great. If not, we need to narrow it along the way to give people in Super Tuesday states a reason to see and have us fight on,” she said on NBC’s Meet the Press.

Polls show Haley has a major gap to close in South Carolina, which holds its GOP primary February 24, if she intends to shave off some of Trump’s momentum following his 11-point victory in the far less conservative New Hampshire race last week.

But Haley has remained defiant, increasing her attacks on Trump, who has collected the support of her former allies in her home state, and arguing on Sunday that “as long as I keep growing per state, I am in this race.”

“I have every intention of going to Super Tuesday,” she added, referring to the day with the largest pot of delegates, March 5, when Republicans in 16 states and territories will vote for their presidential nominee.

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott – a onetime presidential rival whom Haley appointed to the Senate in 2012 – backed Trump days before the former president’s victory in New Hampshire, and in an interview that aired Sunday, said the primary was effectively over.

“Seventy plus percent of Republicans in New Hampshire supported the president. This race is over from a primary perspective. We should turn our attention to Joe Biden,” he told ABC News’ “This Week.”

And Rep. Nancy Mace, who represents the district where Haley lives in South Carolina and whom Haley endorsed during a hard-fought Republican primary race in 2022 against a Trump-backed candidate, has also thrown her support behind the former president.

Haley said Trump can’t “bully his way to the nomination” as he ramps up pressure on supporters to abandon Haley. Trump said last week that any Haley donors will be “permanently barred” from his orbit if they continue to contribute to her campaign, though a vital contributor to Haley’s campaign has said it will continue to support her.

When asked Sunday whether she would be willing to be Trump’s running mate, Haley said she was running to win.

“I don’t want to be anyone’s vice president,” she said.

CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi, Fredreka Schouten, Eric Bradner, Arit John, Alayna Treene, Kylie Atwood and MJ Lee contributed to this report.

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