March 7, 2024

Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley suspended her presidential campaign on Wednesday after being soundly defeated across the country on Super Tuesday, leaving Donald Trump as the last remaining major candidate for the 2024 Republican nomination. Haley didn’t endorse the former president in a speech in Charleston, South Carolina. Instead, she challenged him to win the support of the moderate Republicans and independent voters who supported her.” AP News

Both sides argue that Haley represents a Republican party that its voters are not interested in returning to:

“Haley’s campaign gave us a pretty direct test that has eluded us previously: what would happen if voters were faced with a one-on-one choice between Trump and the GOP of yesteryear. Haley exuded the Reagan and George W. Bush eras. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more prototypical standard-bearer: conservative but pragmatic, fiscally conscious, hawkish on issues like Russia and Ukraine, and uninterested in the right wing’s almost-singular focus on provocation…

“The party’s voters broke down extremely predictably. Haley’s voters were overwhelmingly those who didn’t like Trump and were more moderate, educated and suburban; Trump’s were overwhelmingly people who falsely denied the 2020 presidential election results and cared most about a candidate who would ‘fight for people like me.’ It was a choice between traditional conservatism and emotion, and emotion won in a landslide.”

Aaron Blake, Washington Post

“Some loyal Republican voters have always been uneasy about the style of former President Donald Trump. They felt more comfortable in the GOP world of Bush, McCain, Romney, and Ryan. Even when Trump won the 2016 Republican nomination, and then the presidency, they expressed reservations about his tone or his manner or the ‘drama’ that surrounded him…

“[Haley] promised a return to a calmer and more disciplined Republican Party. Her problem was that there were not nearly enough Republicans who want that, too. Some love Trump, others don’t love him but like his results, and others think that for all his flaws he is what the GOP needs to fight a Democratic Party dominated by progressive activists. Some would even like to move on from Trump but don’t believe there is another Republican on the scene with the strength and talent to lead the party in a new direction.”

Byron York, Washington Examiner

Other opinions below.

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From the Left

Haley never resolved her perpetually ambiguous attitude towards her vanquisher, promising to support him in the general election even if he’s a convicted felon and yet criticizing him in increasingly sharp and personal terms as her own campaign lost steam. The ambiguity continued in her announcement of that campaign’s end; she refused to ‘endorse’ Trump right now but pointedly observed that she has always backed her party’s nominees…

“She might have made her peace with Trump earlier and climbed aboard his bandwagon, perhaps even becoming his running mate and heir apparent. Conversely, she seemed to have the money to continue losing to Trump in post-Super Tuesday primaries, for a while at least… Instead she’s just going away, surely leaving some of her backers wondering what Haley 2024 was all about.”

Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine

“Beyond likely ensuring Biden’s defeat, a Haley nomination would have given the GOP an excellent chance of amassing large congressional majorities to boot… Voters tend to back the same party up and down the ballot. A Haley landslide would therefore have translated into massive Republican success in House, Senate, and state elections. This in turn would have made many of the conservative movement’s longtime goals more legislatively feasible…

“A relatively narrow Trump victory, by contrast, could leave much of the right’s agenda unfulfilled. A close Republican win at the presidential level would even be compatible with Democrats winning a House majority, an outcome that would tightly constrain conservatives’ policy gains. In other words, the conservative movement had a golden opportunity in 2024 to secure an electoral landslide with transformational policy implications… [and] passed up the chance.”

Eric Levitz, Vox

From the Right

Some argue, “Haley deserves credit for talking about spending and debt and supporting aid for Ukraine at a time when this didn’t win her any points with the Republican base. She also became more pointed in her criticisms of Trump as the race progressed. But her political problem was that she sounded too much like a Republican circa 2004 to have broad appeal in the party…

“There will now be much attention on whether she will endorse Trump, although it is doubtful she can deliver her voters; they aren’t particularly bonded to her, and this bloc of non-Trump voters existed well before she ran. Still, Trump should want her endorsement and should be trying to woo her — and those voters — instead of engaging in his typically graceless behavior.”

The Editors, National Review

“Haley has already issued a warning, saying that the Republicans who supported her will not vote for Trump in November. She also urged Trump to reach out and make an effort to heal the divide and win them over. That may be true in some cases, and Trump can ill afford to lose a large block of voters from his own party…

“But when push comes to shove, how many Republicans are such hard-core NeverTrumpers that they would actually pull a lever for Biden in November? The bigger danger is that they might decide to vote third-party or simply stay home…

“Historians and political nerds will probably debate the impact of Haley's performance for some time to come. There is no doubt that she made an outsized splash in the political pool and vastly increased her name recognition. But did she do so in a positive way? If she still maintains any dreams of trying again in 2028, that will be an important question for her to address. Her refusal to endorse Trump at this stage simply speaks of bitterness and resentment. That's not a good look in American national politics.”

Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

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