Major Trump Donor Continues to Back RFK Jr., Filings Show
Major Trump Donor Continues to Back RFK Jr., Filings Show

By Terri Wu

WASHINGTON—Trailing her Republican rival by hundreds of delegates, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has ignored calls for her to drop out and kept fighting on.

And on Super Tuesday, when more than a third of the GOP delegates will be awarded as 15 states—the Northeast, the South, the Midwest, Pacific Coast, and Alaska—go to the polls, she’s projected to lose most, if not all of them, to former President Donald Trump.

Ms. Haley, for her part, has only pledged to stay on until Super Tuesday, prompting questions about when she will call it quits.

At a Friday rally in Washington, she explained her motive for staying in the race.

“This is not about my political future, or I would have been out a long time ago. The reason I’m doing this is for my kids, your kids, and the younger generation.”

Ms. Haley has repeatedly dodged the question about when she would withdraw her presidential bid, instead often saying that she was focusing on the next primary and that she had a “country to save.”

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley at a campaign event in Falls Church, Va., on Feb. 29, 2024. (Terri Wu/The Epoch Times)

Veteran political analyst Bob Holsworth says she is, in a way, also trying to save the Republican Party.

“Haley thinks that Trump doesn’t represent traditional Republican principles. And so she’s running, on one hand, to defend the history of the Republican Party, and on the other hand, to try to point to what she considers to be a post-Trump future,” he told The Epoch Times. “There’s a certain percentage of Republicans who share her perspective, but it’s not large enough to make a significant difference.”

Ms. Haley holds about 15 to 20 percent of Republican support across the Super Tuesday states. Regarding her base, Mr. Holsworth said, “They are disgusted with Trump—they don’t like the chaos; they don’t like the positions; they’re uncomfortable with the drama and the sort of resentment and the anger. It’s not their way of seeing the world.”

Linda and Nick Connolly speak with The Epoch Times after voting in the 2024 presidential primary at the Loudoun County Office of Elections in Leesburg, Va., on March 2, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

That was the case with Nick Connolly, 59, a business professional living in northern Virginia’s Loudoun County.

He voted for Ms. Haley on March 2 and said his vote was a “protest vote” against President Trump.

“Donald Trump is the most dangerous person in the country, and he should never be allowed to run on the ballot,” Mr. Connolly told The Epoch Times. “I want to make sure that Nikki Haley is able to stay in the race as long as possible.”

Some voters, like Ken Reid, had a change of heart.

Mr. Reid has been involved in politics for 20 years. Last year, the Jewish Republican won the primary for Virginia state Senate, representing Fairfax County, and lost to his Democrat opponent.

“I was a day-one Trump supporter in 2016. And in 2020, I worked very hard for him. But he basically has [messed up] the last couple of years with all the legal problems and his big mouth,” Mr. Reid told The Epoch Times, citing President Trump’s “very high negatives.”

“We really need a fresh face. I don’t know if she’ll have a chance to make the nomination, but I’m here for her,“ he said, acknowledging the likelihood that Ms. Haley will drop out of the race soon after Super Tuesday. ”I basically have been trying to get people away from Trump for the better part of the last two or three years. It’s not been working very well.”

Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump speaks at the Greater Richmond Convention Center in Richmond, Va., on March 2, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Among all 15 Super Tuesday states that will divide up 874 of the total 2,429 Republican delegates for candidates, President Trump holds his narrowest margin over Ms. Haley in Virginia, according to FiveThirtyEight. The site doesn’t have data available for Alaska.

President Trump’s margins over Ms. Haley in all other states so far are in the double digits, with the largest in Alabama at over 70 points. In Virginia, the latest Roanoke College Poll has President Trump leading Ms. Haley by 8 points among likely Republican primary voters, with a margin of error of 4.6 percent.

President Trump has acknowledged the challenge in Virginia.

On Saturday, he made his first 2024 campaign stop in the Commonwealth to drive turnout.

“We win Virginia; we win 100 percent. The election is over,” he told his supporters about the Republican primary.

Among all 15 Super Tuesday states that will divide up 874 of the total 2,429 Republican delegates for candidates, Trump holds the narrowest margin against Haley in Virginia, according to polling site FiveThirtyEight. The site doesn’t have data available for Alaska. (Terri Wu/The Epoch Times)

Former Governor Says Party Unity in Jeopardy

Former Virginia Republican Gov. Jim Gilmore, who attended the rally at Richmond’s Convention Center and spoke before President Trump, said Ms. Haley is framing her challenging President Trump as a contest between the conservatives and moderates in the Republican Party. However, to Mr. Gilmore, party unity is more strategically important.

A month ago, he led a group of conservative leaders to urge Ms. Haley to drop out of the presidential race. “Your continued criticism of the almost certain nominee is reducing the likelihood of the Republican candidate in November,” the letter read.

Mr. Gilmore told The Epoch Times: “I just don’t think we have the luxury of fighting for a nomination that’s already decided all the way up until the convention, giving President Biden an opportunity to get his feet under him and to get his campaign together while we’re arguing amongst ourselves.”

Virginia officials statewide have been in the waiting mood.

Officials of Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration didn’t show up at the Trump rally on Saturday, with only members of the General Assembly being present.

“Youngkin has made clear he will enthusiastically support the Republican nominee, and Virginians will have their chance to weigh in on who that should be on March 5,” Justin Discigil, a spokesman for Mr. Youngkin’s Spirit of Virginia political action committee, told local newspaper the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Mr. Gilmore said he made an “earlier decision” while other Republicans might be “holding their fire for the time being.”

He considers Virginia a blue state, not a purple state, and “that means that there are a whole bunch of Republicans who are not necessarily attracted to the type of candidate that Donald Trump is.”

Mr. Holsworth also noticed the absence of state officials at the Trump rally. “So that tells you a little bit about the makeup of Virginia,” he quipped.

Shannon Ridgley, a government worker in Loudoun County, casts her vote for Trump in the Republican primary in Leesburg, Va., on March 2, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/Epoch Times)

Haley Breaking Trump’s 100-Percent Win an ‘Upset’

Based on the polls, Virginia is the one state where Ms. Haley has the best chance for a potential victory. If she doesn’t carry Virginia, Super Tuesday may well be a “100 percent” victory for President Trump, as he mentioned at his Saturday rally.

Drawing from their knowledge of Virginia, Mr. Holsworth, Mr. Gilmore, and former Virginia Republican Gov. George Allen all think that a Haley victory in the Commonwealth would be a surprise.

Virginia assigns its total 45 delegates on a pro-rated basis; 12 are based on state-wide results and 33 based on results in the 11 congressional districts at 3 each.

President Trump drew almost 3,000 people to his rally in Richmond, whereas Ms. Haley’s rally sizes were a few hundreds.

President Trump is very popular in rural Virginia counties, but Ms. Haley edges him out in areas such as northern Virginia and Richmond, which are seen as Democratic strongholds in the Commonwealth. However, they may not be of much help for Ms. Haley due to their much smaller Republican population.

Although his wife, former First Lady of Virginia Susan Allen, has been championing Ms. Haley in Virginia, Mr. Allen said he hadn’t given any endorsements because he wanted to “stay out of the personalities and have the freedom and independence to make observations as a free agent.”

“The difference is on the direction of the Republican Party and of our country,” Mr. Allen told The Epoch Times, specifying the two key areas that differentiate Ms. Haley from President Trump if emotions are set aside: fiscal responsibility and national security with allies or isolationism. He said Ms. Haley has the track record on controlling government spending and working with allies at the United Nations.

If Ms. Haley wins Virginia with more delegates than President Trump, Mr. Allen would consider it as an “upset.”

“People who vote in these primaries will make the decision of the direction of the Republican Party and where the Republican Party’s positions will be for the future of the country,” Mr. Allen said.

“This is a final scrimmage,“ he added. ”We have decided as Republicans who our starting quarterback’s gonna be—or gosh, I guess we’re gonna have to keep looking to see who’s still the best. I think this will be dispositive.”

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