Nikki Haley insisted Tuesday she won’t quit even if she loses to former President Donald Trump in today’s New Hampshire primary.
As the former U.N. ambassador raced across the state hunting an upset, she vowed to fight on against Trump in her home state of South Carolina and beyond.
“We are going on to South Carolina,” Haley told reporters at a campaign stop. “This has always been a marathon. It’s never been a sprint.”
She sharply pushed back at Trump’s suggestion that she should quit.
“I don’t do what he tells me to do,” she added.
Haley’s campaign underlined her determination to stay in the race even if Trump wins the Granite State by a healthy margin as polls predict.
“We aren’t going anywhere,” Haley campaign manager Betsy Ankney wrote in a memo.“We’re letting the people have a voice. That’s how this is supposed to work.”
Ankney mentioned that Democrats and independents may vote in the South Carolina primary on Feb. 24, a potential boon for Haley, who is courting moderate opponents of Trump.
The memo also mentioned several states on Super Tuesday with similar electoral rules, suggesting that Haley would definitely remain in the race into March at least.
“Until then, everyone should take a deep breath,” Ankney wrote. “The campaign has not even begun in any of these states yet.”
The memo was released as voters flocked to the polls in New Hampshire, suggesting that the Haley campaign hoped to reassure its supporters that she would stay in the race regardless.
Of course, it’s not uncommon for politicians to insist they will not drop out of races but then reverse themselves and throw in the towel when things do not go their way.
Turnout was said to be moderately heavy by mid-afternoon. If more independents than expected cast ballots in the contest, it would be a potentially good sign that Haley could pull off an upset or at least run close to Trump.
Officials predicted turnout could hit 322,000, breaking the all-time record for a primary.
Polls were expected to close at 7 p.m. and results should be available soon after that, Republican officials said.
Most polls showed Trump with a lead of 15% or more heading into the contest.
The former president told supporters at an election eve rally that Haley should drop out if she loses as predicted.
“I don’t care if she stays in,” Trump said Tuesday during a campaign stop.“Let her do whatever she wants. It doesn’t matter.”
Haley is the last person standing against Trump as the once-crowded field of GOP contenders has quickly dwindled.
Several former rivals have lined up behind Trump, including Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, Vivek Ramaswamy and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was once seen as a potent contender to knock off the former president.
Haley may benefit in New Hampshire from the withdrawal of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, although the fierce Trump critic stopped short of endorsing her.