Nikki Haley Struggles To Draw Supporters In South Carolina

Whoever said “you can’t go home again” may have had former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and South Carolina in mind. Compared to opponent former President Donald Trump’s massive rallies, the Republican presidential hopeful drew an embarrassingly small number of supporters over the weekend in the state where she was a two-term governor.

Haley held a rally at Conway’s Coastal Carolina University, and to say the room was 30% occupied may be overstating the attendance.

Instead, it was an extremely modest gathering in the William Brice Building on campus.

Haley recently crowed about her “momentum” heading into her home state. That accomplishment, however, consisted of a third-place Iowa finish and being runner-up in a two-horse race in New Hampshire.

Now, Haley trails former President Donald Trump in familiar territory as she attempts to rally the troops. But touting two straight losses is hardly going to rouse the rabble, particularly when 70% of her New Hampshire support came from voters who were not registered Republicans.

The candidate noted her rise to be Trump’s leading challenger. She also spoke of the U.S. economy and foreign policy as she stood in front of a large American flag. 

For Haley, who began her quest as a largely unknown political commodity, these are understandably heady times. In a different setting before supporters in North Charleston, she claimed to be “thrilled” at the third- and second-place finishes.

She told her home state audience, “We got out there, and we did our thing and we said what we had to say, and then Donald Trump got out there and just threw a temper tantrum.” 

Without DeSantis to target, Haley is left with only one option — to slay the giant. But Trump towers far above her in every conceivable poll, including in her home state.

She went all in to make a strong showing in New Hampshire and was able to tap into Democrats, independents and moderate Republicans in the Granite State. But that’s a far cry from South Carolina, where she must woo true conservatives away from the 45th president.

That is a tall order. And losing the Palmetto State spells doom for GOP contenders. Since 1980 only one candidate went on to secure the Republican nomination after failing to achieve a majority in South Carolina.

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