Haley ends White House bid but does not back Trump

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Nikki Haley has decided to end her presidential campaign, a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. The move caps a bid for the White House that outlasted all the other Republican rivals to Donald Trump but failed to gain enough support to topple the former US president.

Haley was due to speak from her home state of South Carolina at 10am Eastern Time on Wednesday after losing to Trump in the vast majority of Republican primary contests held on Super Tuesday.

While Haley is not expected to endorse Trump on Thursday, she will urge him to win over the voters who supported her, according to a second person familiar with her plans.

The only primary races she had won thus far were in Vermont and the District of Columbia, the seat of the US capital. Trump is now on the brink of securing enough delegates to win the Republican presidential nomination and Haley’s exit paves the way for him to move on to the general election campaign against Joe Biden.

“We want to have unity and we’re going to have unity, and it’s going to happen very quickly,” Trump told his supporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on Tuesday night.

Haley’s exit sets the stage for an eight-month long race between Trump and Biden that is expected to be both close and rancorous. According to the latest national polling average by RealClearPolitics, Trump has a small lead of 2 percentage points over the incumbent president.

Haley, a former South Carolina governor and former US ambassador to the UN, had cast herself throughout the campaign as a voice for traditional conservatism on economic and foreign policy, and part of a new generation of political leadership for the country.

After posting strong performances in the televised Republican debates last year, she began to rise in the polls and secured the support from prominent anti-Trump donors on Wall Street, while the field of contenders began to narrow.

Haley’s strongest support came from moderate and independent centre-right voters opposed to Trump, which propelled her into third place in the Iowa caucuses, and second place in the New Hampshire primary.

But she was never able to overcome Trump’s overwhelming lead among staunchly conservative voters and the heart of the party’s base, which is now dominated by the former president.

In the final stretch of her campaign, she increasingly launched attacks on Trump’s age, character and fitness for office, including calling him “unhinged” — but that more aggressive approach did not resonate with enough Republican voters to imperil his advantage.

Haley also repeatedly warned that Trump would lose a general election against Biden — and suggested the incumbent president would fail to finish his term in office, leaving Kamala Harris, the vice-president, in the White House. The Wall Street Journal first reported Haley’s decision to end her bid.

Her exit will make it easier for Trump to raise money through the Republican National Committee, since he will no longer have any significant internal rivals.

Haley’s departure from the race comes after Trump secured some big victories on the legal front.

This week, the Supreme Court rejected a ruling by Colorado’s Supreme Court saying he should be disqualified from the presidential ballot on constitutional grounds, after fuelling the January 6 2021 attack on the US Capitol.

The Supreme Court also agreed to consider the question of whether he should be immune from prosecutions for his actions as president. This is expected to delay a federal trial in connection with his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, possibly until after the November vote.

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