A sweep of the first two nominating contests on the 2024 primary season left Donald Trump in a strong position to seize the Republican party nomination, and made a rematch with Joe Biden even more inevitable.
Trump’s Republican rival, Nikki Haley, vowed to fight on despite her second place finish in New Hampshire, a state where she had hoped for an upset, and her third place finish in the Iowa caucuses. But she faces long odds. There is no precedent for a candidate winning the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary and losing their party’s nomination.
In his victory night speech, Trump previewed the crudeness of the campaign rhetoric to come if Haley does not accede to his calls for her to drop out. In his remarks, which were more angry than celebratory, Trump suggested that Haley would find herself under investigation if she became the nominee, but then declared that she had no chance of dethroning him.
“This is not your typical victory speech,” he said, surrounded by all of his vanquished Republican rivals. “But let’s not have someone take a victory when she had a very bad night.”
Haley’s campaign dismissed Trump’s speech as a “furious and rambling rant” and asked: “If Trump is in such good shape, why is he so angry?”
“This is why so many voters want to move on from Trump’s chaos and are rallying to Nikki Haley’s new generation of conservative leadership,” her campaign said.
Haley was more gracious in her speech. She conceded to Trump and congratulated him on his victory. But she said she would not be pushed out of a contest that had just begun. “New Hampshire is first in the nation,” she told supporters in Concord, the state’s capitol. “It is not the last in the nation. This race is far from over.”
Haley insisted that she could parlay her second-place showing in New Hampshire into an even stronger finish in her home state of South Carolina, where she was twice elected governor. But polls show Trump leading Haley by roughly 30 percentage points in South Carolina, which holds its Republican primary election on 24 February.
Haley’s loss underscored Trump’s strength among Republican voters, who looked past his false claims of a stolen election and a web of legal troubles amounting to 91 criminal charges.
Haley has said “chaos follows” Trump and argued Republicans would lose the presidency again if he was their nominee. “A Trump nomination is a Biden win and a Kamala Harris presidency,” she said, suggesting that the 81-year-old president would not be able to complete his term.
Biden was not on Tuesday’s primary ballot in New Hampshire, but won the contest thanks to a homegrown write-in campaign.
“It is now clear that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee. And my message to the country is the stakes could not be higher,” Biden said in a statement on Tuesday. “Our Democracy. Our personal freedoms – from the right to choose to the right to vote. Our economy – which has seen the strongest recovery in the world since COVID. All are at stake.”
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