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Nikki Haley ends presidential campaign with no regrets

Washington, Mar 6 (Prensa Latina) ormer South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley dropped out of the 2024 presidential race Wednesday after losing every state but Vermont in Super Tuesday's primary contests, ceding the Republican nomination to former President Donald Trump.

Haley’s decision to end her campaign effectively kicks off the general election, with Trump and President Joe Biden taking unofficial command of their parties early in primary season after a string of victories.

“I am filled with the gratitude for the outpouring of support we’ve received from all across our great country, but the time has now come to suspend my campaign,” Haley said in a speech Wednesday morning. “I said I wanted Americans to have their voices heard — I have done that. I have no regrets. And although I will no longer be a candidate, I will not stop using my voice for the things I believe in.”

Haley didn’t announce an endorsement during her remarks Wednesday. Instead, she encouraged Trump, who is close to having the delegates needed to win the GOP nomination, to earn the support of Republicans and independent voters who backed her.

“It is now up to Donald Trump to earn the votes of those in our party and beyond it who did not support him, and I hope he does that,” she said. “At its best, politics is about bringing people into your cause, not turning them away. And our conservative cause badly needs more people. This is now his time for choosing.”

Haley said that being a private citizen is “privilege enough in itself” and that she looks forward to “enjoying in all likelihood” that Trump will be the Republican presidential nominee.

“I congratulate him and wish him well. I wish anyone well who would be America’s president,” she said. “Our country is too precious to let our differences divide us.”

In a statement on Haley’s withdrawal from the Republican presidential primary, President Joe Biden acknowledged the “courage” it took to “speak the truth” about her GOP opponent.

“It takes a lot of courage to run for President — that’s especially true in today’s Republican Party, where so few dare to speak the truth about Donald Trump,” he said. “Nikki Haley was willing to speak the truth about Trump: about the chaos that always follows him, about his inability to see right from wrong, about his cowering before Vladimir Putin.”

Biden also urged her supporters to support his re-election campaign.

“Donald Trump made it clear he doesn’t want Nikki Haley’s supporters. I want to be clear: There is a place for them in my campaign,” Biden said. “I know there is a lot we won’t agree on. But on the fundamental issues of preserving American democracy, on standing up for the rule of law, on treating each other with decency and dignity and respect, on preserving NATO and standing up to America’s adversaries, I hope and believe we can find common ground.”

In response to news of Haley dropping out of the race, Trump slammed his former challenger in a statement.

“Nikki Haley got TROUNCED last night, in record setting fashion, despite the fact that Democrats, for reasons unknown, are allowed to vote in Vermont, and various other Republican Primaries,” Trump said, referring to her only Super Tuesday victory in Vermont.

Trump then accused Haley of raising most of her money from Democrats and urged her supporters to get behind his presidential bid.

“At this point, I hope she stays in the “race” and fights it out until the end!” he said. “I’d like to thank my family, friends, and the Great Republican Party for helping me to produce, by far, the most successful Super Tuesday in HISTORY, and would further like to invite all of the Haley supporters to join the greatest movement in the history of our Nation.”

NBC News has projected a near-sweep for Trump in Tuesday’s contests, with blowout results in every state except blue Vermont, where Haley won the state’s delegates by a more than 4 percentage point margin, with about 96% of the expected votes in.

The Trump campaign press secretary Karoline Leavitt said in an interview on Fox Business that she hoped Haley would endorse Trump “considering again that voters and states across this country have made their choice very clear.”

“It is beyond time for Nikki Haley to get out of this race and to unify around the president,” she said. “He has been saying this for weeks, really for months. And so we encourage her to do just that, to adhere to the will of Republican voters.”

But as she turned hard against Trump in 2024 — and suffered a string of double-digit defeats in the early states, including in her home state of South Carolina — Haley resisted mounting pressure to drop out of the race, repeatedly insisting that more Americans deserved a choice.

Haley, a hand-picked member of Trump’s Cabinet from 2017 to 2018, was the first major Republican to launch a challenge against the former president more than a year ago. Her campaign had a slow start, but she gained momentum after multiple strong debate performances last summer and fall.

“I’m not giving up this fight when a majority of Americans disapprove of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden,” she said at her campaign’s watch party on the night of the South Carolina primary, adding that other states “have the right to a real choice, not a Soviet style election with only one candidate.”

But Republican primary voters made their choice, and Haley lost to Trump in all but one primary, Vermont, on Super Tuesday. Her only other victory was the low-turnout GOP primary in Washington, D.C.

While she kept her criticism of Trump measured for months in the originally crowded primary field, Haley upped her rhetoric after the New Hampshire primary — where she had one of her best showings with 43% — and the contest became a two-person race.

Haley told NBC last month that the former president was “diminished” and “unhinged,” explaining away her past support for Trump by bluntly saying “he is not the same person he was in 2016.”

By the end of her campaign, Haley was framing the primary in stark terms. “This is about, where exactly is the Republican Party gonna go?” she told rally attendees in Richmond, Virginia, on Feb. 29. Haley repeatedly brought up the party’s losses under Trump’s leadership and told her supporters that he “can’t win a general” election.

And she touted surveys like the Wall Street Journal’s December poll — which showed her with a big lead against Biden and Trump stuck in a closer race — at virtually every campaign event, framing herself as a more electable alternative for the GOP.

“I am giving you every red flag I possibly can about the direction that the country is going in. Now I just need people to hear it. I need states that are voting to act on it,” she said late last month to reporters in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “And I need to see that we can stop this sinking ship before it takes off.”

Although several 2024 GOP candidates gave their support for Trump after withdrawing from the race, Haley said last weekend that she no longer feels bound by a pledge she made to the Republican National Committee to support the party’s nominee.