Haley insists she’s staying in the GOP race. Here’s how that could cause problems for Trump


For months, the underdog in the presidential primary refused to concede defeat. He fought hard in state after state, even as the front-runner amassed a delegate advantage that would be virtually impossible to overcome.

The extended feud between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in 2016, which turned more bitter as time passed, left behind Democratic divisions that would ultimately contribute to their party’s crushing general election loss.

Eight years later, some Republicans fear that history may soon repeat itself.

Nikki Haley’s path to the GOP nomination is rapidly shrinking following recent losses in Iowa and New Hampshire. But she’s vowing to stay in the race indefinitely, backed by thousands of committed donors, a key slice of the party’s moderate wing and a new willingness to attack the mental fitness and legal baggage of 2024 Republican front-runner Donald Trump. And the harder Haley fights, the more Republican officials fear she may hurt his long-term prospects in the all-but-certain general election ahead against Democratic President Joe Biden.

Former Trump adviser David Urban described Haley’s continued presence as a distraction, a drain on resources and a source of frustration.

“Nobody on Trump’s team thinks (a Biden matchup) is going to be easy. It’s going to be a bumpy road. It’s going to be a tough race. They want to hit the starter’s pistol and get going,” Urban said. “People need to start coming together and working together. But right now, none of that is happening because she’s still out there stoking the anti-Trump fire.”

‘I am not going anywhere’

Of course, Haley is in a much different position than Sanders was during the epic 2016 campaign. The Vermont senator actually won contests, including his 22-point victory in the New Hampshire primary. Unless she manages a dramatic turnaround, Haley’s 11-point deficit in the same state last month may prove to be the high point of her presidential bid.

Haley decided to skip Nevada’s presidential caucuses next Thursday in favour of a state primary election two days earlier that does not award delegates. Trump could embarrass Haley in her home state of South Carolina later in the month, where the former president has a loyal following. A Washington Post-Monmouth University poll on Thursday found Trump with a 26-point lead in the state.

Yet in practical terms — and in Haley’s calculus — the GOP primary has barely begun. Just two states have voted so far in a process that will ultimately span all 50 before concluding at the GOP’s national nominating convention in July.

“I am not going anywhere,” she told reporters on Thursday. “We have a country to save. And I am determined to keep on going the entire way. As long as we can keep closing that gap, I’m gonna keep staying in.”