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As Trump prevails, why is Nikki Haley still in the race?

The GOP presidential hopeful is offering herself as an alternative to former President Donald Trump: "We need a young, new generational leader."
As Trump prevails, why is Nikki Haley still in the race?
Posted at 9:12 AM, Feb 27, 2024

In the general election, people are given a choice. In the primaries, people make a choice.

That was Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley’s message to the crowd Monday in a half-filled ballroom in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. The presidential hopeful made a trip to West Michigan just one day before the state's primary.

In her eyes, a vote for Nikki Haley is a vote for normalcy, and more importantly, she said, it’s not a vote for Donald Trump. 

SEE MORE: Michigan primary pits Trump vs. Haley, Biden vs. 'uncommitted'

Trump remains undefeated in primary elections up to this point, including taking a victory in South Carolina, Haley's home state. Still, Haley's campaign cup remains half-full.

“It is an alarm bell to the Republican Party that he has lost 40% of the vote in all the early states," she said. "You can’t win a general election if you can’t win 40% of the votes in a Republican primary. It’s a fact."

Haley also called the Republican Party a sinking ship, hoping Tuesday comes with some life rafts in the form of votes.

“Since Donald Trump became president in 2016, it’s chaos," she said. "They’ve lost the governor’s mansion; they lost the state House; they lost the state Senate; they lost more races. You’re now seeing they have two Republican parties. That is all the product of the chaos that is Donald Trump and we’re seeing that all over the country.”

During her remarks, Haley touted some of her own policies around fiscal responsibility and border security, but she spent most of her time on stage, and one-on-one with Scripps News Grand Rapids' Max Goldwasser before the rally, warning that, in her words, America won’t survive four more years of chaos with Trump in charge.

“We need a young, new generational leader that can go and put in eight years of day-and-night work and get solutions done for the American people," Haley said. "No drama, no vendettas. Just results for the American people.”

SEE MORE: Will Nikki Haley's battle strategy against Trump work?

Those in attendance at Monday's rally said, at this point, it’s not just about policy. It’s about character, and they do not believe Trump’s character cuts it for the White House.

“I’ve always thought of myself as a Republican," said Matthew Tuininga, who came with his family from Wyoming. "But Donald Trump and his character and the way he talks and the way he’s leading our country, especially talking about pulling out of NATO and things like that, doesn’t stand for Republican values.”

Ethan Morrical of Holland, Michigan, told Scripps News, “I don’t think [Trump] has the humility to ask good questions about how world order works, frankly, or about maybe more complex issues he doesn’t have experience with. I don’t think he’s willing to learn.”

SEE MORE: Koch network stops funding Nikki Haley after loss in South Carolina

Despite her repeated losses, and several calls for her to drop out, Haley’s made it clear she has no plans to leave this race any time soon — especially ahead of Super Tuesday, which is March 5.

“Seventy percent of Americans don’t want to see Donald Trump or Joe Biden," she said. "We’ve got 21 more states and territories that are going to vote in the next 10 days. They deserve a voice.”

When it comes to the general election, a poll from Marquette University Law School found Trump only has a 2-point lead over Biden (51% to 49%). Haley, meanwhile, has a commanding 16-point lead over Biden (58% to 42%).

So, statistically speaking, Haley has a shot to clinch the presidency, but none of that matters if she can’t get past the primaries.

This story was originally published by Max Goldwasser at Scripps News Grand Rapids.

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