Haley Hedges on Her Pledge To Support GOP Nominee

By Adeline Von Drehle
Published On: Last updated 06/12/2024, 10:41 AM EDT

For what it’s worth, Nikki Haley won the Washington, D.C. Republican primary on Sunday, marking an end to Donald Trump’s winning streak. Haley picked up 19 delegates with the win, bringing her total to 43 of the 1,215 delegates needed to clinch the nomination.

“It’s not surprising that Republicans closest to Washington dysfunction are rejecting Donald Trump and all his chaos,” Haley campaign spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas said in a statement.

The D.C. primary had far fewer voters than most states (around 2000), and Republicans in the nation’s capital are less conservative than those in the rest of the country. Washington is a further anomaly in that it is completely urban and has a high proportion of college-educated residents. Trump’s base is rural America, and less than half of his 2020 supporters were college graduates.

Trump’s campaign offered its own spin on the D.C. results, treating their loss almost as a badge of honor. Karoline Leavitt, a Trump campaign press secretary, wrote on X, “Tonight’s results in Washington D.C. reaffirm the object of President Trump’s campaign – he will drain the swamp and put America first.”

“While Nikki has been soundly rejected throughout the rest of America, she was just crowned Queen of the Swamp by the lobbyists and DC insiders that want to protect the failed status quo,” she added. “The swamp has claimed their queen.”

Trump himself claimed on the Truth Social app that he “purposely stayed away from the D.C. Vote because it is the ‘Swamp,’ with very few delegates, and no upside.” The former president has a poor track record with D.C. voters. In 2016’s primary, he won only 16% of the vote in D.C. On Sunday, he won 33%; Haley came away with 63% support.

The win was mostly symbolic for Haley, who made history as the first woman to win a U.S. Republican primary. Her campaign is poised to come back down to Earth very soon, as Trump is projected to add to his 244 delegates with a clean sweep of 15 states and one U.S. territory on the biggest day of nominating contests, Super Tuesday. Held on March 5, 874 delegates are up for grabs.

Opinion polls suggest Haley will lose heavily, raising questions about the viability of her campaign. She is down 63.4 percentage points nationally to Trump, according to the RCP Averages. Haley has stated she will stay in the race until the Super Tuesday votes, but no promises have been made beyond then.

There is some speculation Haley may continue her bid for president as an independent or ‘no labels’ candidate, as a path to the Republican nomination is virtually inaccessible for her. After losing her home state of South Carolina to Trump, Haley addressed a crowd and said she is “not giving up this fight when a majority of Americans disapprove of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden.”

Former Bush speechwriter Ari Fleischer said that the speech sounded like a “No Labels speech” to him. “When she trashes Joe Biden, trashes Donald Trump, she is setting herself up to run down the middle.”

Haley has denied that she is interested in running as an independent candidate but sparked further interest on Sunday by hedging on her pledge to the Republican National Committee (RNC) to support whoever wins the primary race.

“The RNC is now not the same RNC,” she said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “I’ll make what decision I want to make.”

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