Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley defied calls Tuesday to withdraw from the race for the Republican nomination, vowing to keep fighting after a second straight defeat at the hands of former President Donald J. Trump.
In enthusiastic remarks, Ms. Haley looked forward to the upcoming primary contest in South Carolina, where she is far behind Mr. Trump in the polls despite the home state advantage.
“New Hampshire is first in the country. This is not the last in the country. This race is far from over,” Ms. Haley said, adding, “We are heading home to South Carolina. »
Borrowing signature lines from her stump speeches, Ms. Haley noted how far she had come since the start of the race, when she polled just over 2 percent, declaring herself “a fighter “.
“And I’m disjointed. And now we are last next to Donald Trump,” she added.
Ms. Haley also turned up the heat on Mr. Trump, the dominant front-runner in the Republican race who is battling 91 criminal charges, criticizing him as being as bad for the country as four more years of President Biden. She also took another look at Mr Trump’s mental health and his age of 77.
“With Donald Trump, you have one chaos after another,” she said. “This court case, this controversy, this tweet, this important moment. We cannot solve Joe Biden’s chaos with Republican chaos.”
In her final appearances in the Granite State before the polls closed, Ms. Haley rejected claims that Republican voters had already solidly united behind the former president, and pledged not to end his candidacy , whatever the outcome.
“I didn’t get here by luck,” she said at a polling place in Hampton, New Hampshire, surrounded by supporters including Gov. Chris Sununu, her top surrogate in the state. “I got here because I worked harder than all the other guys and was smarter. So I’m running against Donald Trump and I’m not going to talk about obituary.”
Mr Trump, speaking to supporters at his victory party, mocked Ms Haley for speaking “like she had won”. But “she didn’t win, she lost,” he added.
On Wednesday morning, Ms. Haley is expected to speak at a meeting of the Republican State Committee in the Virgin Islands, which holds its contest on February 8. She is next expected at a homecoming rally in Charleston, South Carolina.
A number of people close to Ms. Haley are encouraging her to continue, many of whom are deeply opposed to Mr. Trump becoming a candidate again.
Betsy Ankney, his campaign manager, issued a memo early Tuesday morning rejecting suggestions that Mr. Trump’s path to the nomination was inevitable. She pointed out that 11 of the 16 states that vote on Super Tuesday have “open or semi-open primaries” that can include independent voters and are “fertile ground for Nikki.”
Nevada will host a Republican caucus on February 8, but Ms. Haley is not participating in that contest, but is participating in a Republican primary in the state. Two days earlier which does not assign any delegates.
His campaign earned more than $1 million in television advertising between Tuesday and Feb. 6, according to AdImpact, a media tracking company.
And officials at its allied super PAC, Stand for America, said they, too, plan to move forward.
Mark Harris, the PAC’s top strategist, said he was preparing television, mail and digital advertising as part of a mobilization effort that would resemble programs he has undertaken in Iowa and New Hampshire, but from Tuesday on. he had not yet made these investments.
“We’re submitting a foreign application, so this was never going to magically happen in one day, and so we’re going to continue to move forward,” Mr. Harris said.
Since the summer, Ms. Haley has predicted that the race for the Republican nomination would result in a showdown between her and Mr. Trump in her home state. Her outward confidence in this scenario did not waver — not after she failed to place second in Iowa, not after her main rival for No. 2, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, abandoned and supported Mr. Trump, not after a slate of South Carolina lawmakers this week joined Mr. Trump on the stump in the final days of the New Hampshire race.
Her message to her allies and the media: she’s been here before.
“I won South Carolina twice as governor,” she told reporters Friday at a retro restaurant in Amherst. “I think I know what the favorable territory is in South Carolina.”
Maggie Haberman And Kellen Browning reports contributed.