Does Haley have the pull to beat Trump in South Carolina?


▶ Watch Video: Haley campaigns in South Carolina as Trump slams legal cases in pitch to voters

Washington — Nikki Haley appears poised to lose in her home state as she goes up against former President Donald Trump in South Carolina’s 2024 Republican primary on Saturday, but she has vowed to press forward in the GOP nomination contest whatever the outcome.

A home-state advantage hasn’t translated into a lead in the polls for the former U.N. ambassador and governor of South Carolina, who has argued that Trump faces an electability problem, given his legal troubles, and surrounds himself with chaos. Nearly two-thirds of likely GOP primary voters said in a recent CBS News poll before the primary that they would vote for Trump, with Haley trailing by double digits.

A number of South Carolina politicians, whose careers were once helped by Haley’s support, are backing Trump. The former president also benefits from the state’s conservative evangelical voter base.

Still, Haley predicted it would be a “close” and “competitive” race and has vowed to stay in the competition for the long haul, framing it as a race between David and Goliath.

“Dropping out would be the easy route,” she said Tuesday in a major speech in Greenville, South Carolina, announcing she had no plans to end her campaign. “I’ve been the underdog in every race I’ve ever run. I’ve always been David taking on Goliath. And like David, I’m not just fighting someone bigger than me. I’m fighting for something bigger than myself.”

In the days leading up to the primary, Haley has intensified her criticism of Trump, accusing him of emboldening Russian President Vladimir Putin after the former president said he would encourage Russia to do “whatever the hell they want” to any NATO country that doesn’t meet defense spending obligations.

“What he just did was put all of our allies in danger and every military service person who’s serving,” she said Monday in Camden, South Carolina. “I don’t know why he keeps getting weak in the knees when it comes to Russia.”

She has also accused Trump of trying to “take” the 2024 election by endorsing his daughter-in-law to serve as co-chair of the Republican National Committee.

In Tuesday’s speech, Haley called Trump “unstable and unhinged,” said he’s “getting meaner and more offensive” and is “taking out his anger on others.”

Trump has returned the jabs.

His campaign characterized Haley as a “wailing loser hell-bent on an alternative reality.” While campaigning in the state earlier this month, Trump mocked Haley over the absence of her husband, who is deployed with the South Carolina Army National Guard in Africa.

When is the 2024 South Carolina Republican primary?

South Carolina’s Republican primary is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 24. It follows the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, which were both held in January, and Nevada’s primary and caucuses earlier this month.

Democrats held their primary in South Carolina on Feb. 3, and President Biden defeated two long-shot candidates.

The dates were each decided by the political parties.

When will polls open and close for the South Carolina primary?

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET. Voters who are in line when polls close at 7 p.m. will be allowed to cast their ballots.

Voters can find their polling place here.

How were Haley and Trump polling in South Carolina before the 2024 primary?

Before Saturday, Trump held a big advantage over Haley, who served as South Carolina governor from 2011 to 2017 before joining the Trump administration, according to the latest CBS News polling, with over than double the support Haley had among likely GOP primary voters, 65%-30%. Three-quarters of voters said it made “no difference” that Haley is from South Carolina in determining whether they would vote for her.

Polling before the primary also showed that her arguments against Trump weren’t resonating. A majority of voters didn’t see Trump’s legal fights as a reason to back Haley and saw her criticism of his mental fitness as unfair.

What’s the current Republican delegate count?

Heading into the South Carolina primary, Trump had an estimated 63 delegates, compared to Haley’s 17 delegates. Fifty delegates are up for grabs in South Carolina.

Nidia Cavazos and Olivia Rinaldi contributed reporting. 

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