Republican presidential race moves to Haley's home state of South Carolina after Trump romps in Nevada

Nikki Haley on Saturday launches a two-week bus tour in South Carolina, leading up to her home state’s Feb. 24 Republican presidential primary, the next contest on the GOP nominating calendar.

“I’m so excited for the Beast of the Southeast Bus Tour,” the former two-term South Carolina governor who later served as U.N. ambassador in former President Donald Trump’s administration said on social media Friday.

Haley faces an uphill climb for the GOP nomination against her former boss, who is the commanding frontrunner as he bids a third straight time for the White House.

Trump will also be in the Palmetto state this weekend, returning to campaign in South Carolina for the first time in two months.


Donald Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a caucus night rally in Las Vegas Feb. 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

After sweeping Nevada’s GOP presidential caucus Thursday, Trump had his eyes on South Carolina.

“Is there any way we can call the election,” a buoyant Trump asked supporters at a victory celebration in Las Vegas, pointing to his double-digit lead in the latest polls in the upcoming primary.

The Nevada caucus victory by the former president was never in doubt. Trump was the only major candidate in a contest run by a friendly state party in which only registered Republicans could vote.

Trump’s convincing win in Nevada, where 26 delegates were at stake, came hours after he won a landslide victory in a presidential caucus run by the U.S. Virgin Islands GOP.

And Thursday’s caucus in Nevada also came two days after he was a winner in Nevada’s state-run Republican presidential primary, even though he wasn’t on the ballot. 

Trump’s absence from the primary ballot wasn’t enough to provide a path to victory for Haley, who lost to a “none of these candidates” option by a more than two-to-one margin in a primary where no GOP convention delegates were at stake.


Voters casting ballots in the primary couldn’t write in Trump’s name, but they could vote for “none of these candidates.” And Trump supporters Fox News interviewed outside of polling stations said that is how they voted.

Donald Trump quickly wins Nevada's GOP-run presidential caucus

Republican voters wait in line to enter a GOP presidential caucus site at Lois & Jerry Tarkanian Middle School in Las Vegas Feb. 8, 2024 (Fox News/Monica Oroz )

“So I’d like to congratulate none of the above,” Trump said on Thursday night as he mocked Haley. “I was one of them.”

Haley, who hadn’t campaigned in Nevada since October, downplayed this week’s primary and caucus in the Silver State, saying in a Fox News Digital interview in Los Angeles Wednesday that they weren’t “anything we were looking at” and charging that the caucus was “rigged” for Trump.

Trump won a majority of the vote in the Jan. 15 Iowa caucuses, and he topped Haley by 11 points a week later in the New Hampshire primary, when the nomination battle turned into a two-candidate race.

Haley, facing calls from some Republicans to end her White House bid, told supporters in California this week, “I’m in this for the long haul.”


While South Carolina is home for Haley, the former president enjoys the backing of the state’s governor, nearly the entire congressional delegation and scores of state lawmakers and local officials.

Veteran South Carolina-based Republican consultant Dave Wilson pointed to Trump’s “groundswell” in the state and highlighted the former president’s “ground forces.”

Nikki Haley campaign calls Nevada caucus 'rigged' for Trump

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley waves to a crowd during a campaign event at New Realm Brewing Co. Feb. 4, 2024, in Charleston, S.C.  (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

Wilson also noted that “Nikki Haley is reintroducing herself to South Carolina” because “almost a million people have moved into the statae since she was governor.”

But pointing to her undefeated electoral record, Wilson said, “Never underestimate Nikki Haley. Never count Nikki Haley out.”

Haley, looking ahead, reiterated that “our focus is on South Carolina, Michigan, Super Tuesday.”


Michigan holds its primary Tuesday, Feb. 27, three days after the South Carolina Republican primary. Fifteen states, including the behemoths of California and Texas, hold contests a week later on Super Tuesday.

Haley’s two campaign stops on Wednesday in California were her first to date in any of the Super Tuesday states.

b4f38b68 Nikki Haley Hollywood CA Feb. 7 2024

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, a former U.N. ambassador and South Carolina governor, signs autographs following a campaign rally at American Legion Hollywood Post 43 Feb. 7, 2024 in Los Angeles. (Fox News/Paul Steinhauser)

The trip also included a series of fundraisers. And as Fox News Digital first reported on Wednesday, Haley hauled in $1.7 million in fundraising during her two days in California.


Haley told Fox News Digital that, when it comes to campaign finances, “we have been smart.”

And she touted that you don’t end up being “the last one standing against Donald Trump if you don’t manage your money well. So, yes, we are focused on making sure we have the resources.”

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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