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US South Carolina Republican primary to kick off Saturday with Trump in lead

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-02-24 14:02

WASHINGTON -- The US South Carolina Republican primary is set to kick off Saturday with former president Donald Trump in the lead.

The top candidates in the race for the GOP nomination are Trump and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who was also the US ambassador to the United Nations while Trump was in the White House.

Trump is far ahead of the race, grabbing more than 60 percent of GOP primary voters in recent polls, while Haley has gained roughly 30 percent.

Christopher Galdieri, a political science professor at Saint Anselm College in the northeastern state of New Hampshire, told Xinhua that "Trump is leading because a huge chunk of the GOP electorate sees him as the leader of the party and the only choice for the nomination."


Trump and Haley have battled it out over the last several weeks, using the pulpit to point out supposed flaws in the other candidate.

Haley said neither current President Joe Biden nor Trump should sit in the White House next term.

"I have a lot of concerns about Trump regaining the presidency. I have even more concerns about Joe Biden. I mean, you look at both of these men and all they have done is given us chaos. All they've done is given us division," Haley said.

During his speech after winning the recent New Hampshire contest, Trump mocked Haley, ridiculing her dress and labeling her a "birdbrain."

Trump recently ratcheted up the pressure on Haley, warning her campaign contributors that if they continue to contribute, they will be "permanently barred from the MAGA camp," a reference to his "Make America Great Again" movement.

Trump has recently been prosecuted in courtrooms in New York, Washington D.C. and Florida in cases that he and his supporters claimed were purely political.

The cases have galvanized his supporters instead of hurting his campaign.

"Trump has established a powerful, identity-based relationship with his most dedicated supporters, and his opponents in the GOP have generally been unwilling to challenge this," Galdieri said.


A growing number of Republican figures have urged Haley to drop out so that they could focus on the fight against the Democratic Party. Trump predicted that Haley would lose South Carolina "bigly" during a recent Fox News event.

Meanwhile, Haley continues to stay in the race. "When the country's future is on the line, you don't drop out. You keep fighting. In fact, you fight harder than ever. That's why I refuse to quit," she said.

"Haley is staying in the race in case something happens in the court cases that shake confidence in him. She is counting on a conviction knocking him out of the race," Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Darrell West told Xinhua.

Haley has outspent Trump. "Usually, candidates in Haley's position run out of money and drop out. Her fundraising has been strong," Galdieri said.

Clay Ramsay, a researcher at the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland, told Xinhua, "Haley remains in the race because she has enough donors who will pay to keep her in the race because they believe Trump should get some opposition."

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