Trump Jabs Haley Over Big Donor Loss After Home State Defeat
Trump Jabs Haley Over Big Donor Loss After Home State Defeat

By Janice Hisle

CHARLESTON, S.C.—Before he handed candidate Nikki Haley a double-whammy defeat, breaking two records in her home state on Saturday, former President Donald Trump seemed to be backing away from criticizing his challenger.

President Trump made little or no mention of Ms. Haley, his former United Nations ambassador, in at least three high-profile recent speeches—a strategy that would be smart to maintain at this stage of the game, a political science professor says.

But on Sunday, a day after his fifth straight history-making win, President Trump blasted out an all-caps Truth Social post that rubbed salt into Ms. Haley’s wounds.

He trumpeted news that Americans for Prosperity (AFP) was pulling the plug on “resources” for her campaign, and bestowed her with a new pejorative nickname.

“Americans for No Prosperity just announced that they are no longer supporting Nikki ”Braindead“ (Birdbrain?) Haley,” the former president wrote. “Charles Koch and his group got played for suckers right from the beginning.”

One of the world’s richest men, Mr. Koch backs the libertarian PAC AFP. The organization spent $31 million boosting Ms. Haley’s campaign and almost $10 million opposing President Trump, according to the nonpartisan research group

A memo sent to AFP staff on Sunday said the organization “stands firm” behind its endorsement of Ms. Haley.

But after being defeated in the state where she once governed, AFP leaders decided to discontinue funding Ms. Haley’s campaign because “we don’t believe any outside group can make a material difference to widen her path to victory,” the memo said.

The Epoch Times has sought comment from Ms. Haley’s campaign.

Trump Breaks State Primary Records

Based on presidential preference contests held thus far, President Trump is entitled to at least 107 delegates, while Ms. Haley has secured 17 delegates, according to Ballotpedia.

President Trump won 60 percent of the votes in Saturday’s Republican primary versus Ms. Haley’s 40 percent.

His win also “set the record for the most votes received in a South Carolina presidential primary,” pollster Rich Baris noted in an online post. The former president racked up nearly 452,000 votes, more than doubling the previous record, Mr. Baris said.

And as a result of Saturday’s vote, “Nikki Haley holds the record for the largest margin loss in a home state for an unsuspended candidate,” Mr. Baris said.

Trump Advised to ‘Ignore Her’

In the face of such defeats, Ms. Haley has been under increasing pressure to suspend her campaign. Although she congratulated President Trump on his South Carolina win, she also vowed to continue her quest.

A political science professor suggests that the Trump campaign would be wise to avoid calling further attention to her efforts.

“Any time that Trump spends, at this juncture, talking about Nikki is wasted time,” Matthew Wilson, professor at Southern Methodist University, told The Epoch Times on Feb. 23.

“And he would do well simply to ignore her.”

Before making his Truth Social post about AFP, President Trump had appeared poised to adopt that strategy.

In fact, four days before the primary, his campaign had issued a statement outlining how, even in a best-case scenario, Ms. Haley cannot win enough delegates to secure the Republican nomination for president.

President Trump’s team said it intended to “acknowledge that Nikki Haley is irrelevant and not newsworthy.”

Afterward, the former president did appear to be dialing back his attacks on Ms. Haley, barely referencing her in his Feb. 23 appearances at the Black Conservative Federation gala in Columbia, S.C., and on Feb. 24 at the Conservative Political Action Conference near Washington, D.C. He also made mostly glancing references to Ms. Haley during his Feb. 24 victory speech at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds in Columbia on Saturday.

But Mr. Wilson stated: “Trump struggles with message discipline.”

President Trump earned a reputation for “mean tweets” on the platform formerly known as Twitter, renamed X, the professor said.

While the former president maintains an account on X, his preferred mode of communication remains on Truth Social, a social media platform he founded after he faced censorship on Twitter before Elon Musk’s takeover.

Many of the former president’s recent Truth Social posts have bashed Ms. Haley, especially after she became his lone remaining Republican challenger.

Candidates Vivek Ramaswamy and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended their campaigns after disappointing performances in the Iowa Caucus–a contest in which Ms. Haley placed third. Both have since endorsed President Trump.

Ms. Haley then lost to President Trump in New Hampshire, Nevada, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, before also being defeated in the Palmetto State.

As the campaign proceeds, polling shows President Trump leading in every state, his campaign has pointed out.

In any case, “as long as he doesn’t give her too much attention, I don’t think she does very much damage,” Mr. Wilson said.

Haley Marches On

Nevertheless, Ms. Haley has set an aggressive campaign schedule.

She made the first of two Michigan stops on Sunday, the day after her South Carolina loss, in advance of that state’s primary on Tuesday.

As of Sunday, President Trump had not announced any new stops in Michigan, where he last appeared Feb. 17.

Ms. Haley also has set events in Minnesota, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, and Massachusetts—all states that will be holding contests on “Super Tuesday,” March 5. About 50 percent of the delegates needed to become the GOP nominee are up for grabs on that day.

So far, President Trump’s calendar shows one scheduled event, a rally in Greensboro, N.C., on March 2. His appearances often are announced only a few days ahead of time.

Lawrence Wilson and Nathan Worcester contributed.

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