A combative Nikki Haley introduced her presidential marketing campaign again to South Carolina on Wednesday after a disappointing defeat the night time earlier than in New Hampshire, and instructed a boisterous crowd in a cavernous ballroom in North Charleston that she would battle Donald J. Trump for the Republican nomination.
“The political elites on this state and across the nation say we simply must let Donald Trump have this,” she instructed her supporters, who had been jeering on the thought. “Listen. We’ve solely had two states which have voted. We’ve obtained 48 extra.”
Nowhere is extra instantly vital than South Carolina, the place she served two phrases as governor earlier than being tapped to function Mr. Trump’s first ambassador to the United Nations. But simply because it’s her dwelling state doesn’t imply it’s pleasant territory. As Ms. Haley appeared to reinvigorate her marketing campaign right here on the bottom, Republicans, as different as native party officers and the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, stepped up the stress on her to drop out. As she made her case for urgent on, the previous president considerably consolidated his assist.
While she spoke, the Trump marketing campaign blasted out a contemporary record of endorsements in South Carolina that now consists of the state’s two senators, most of its House members, its governor and lieutenant governor, and far of its State House — greater than 150 names in all.
“Welcome dwelling to Trump Country, Nikki,” Austin McCubbin, Mr. Trump’s South Carolina director, taunted.
Some of Ms. Haley’s closest allies and confidants on Wednesday continued to insist that Ms. Haley had met her personal expectations: She had winnowed the sector and was now within the two-person contest she needed, with time sufficient till the first on Feb. 24 to unfold her message to a broader voters and draw contrasts between herself and Mr. Trump.
“For these of us in South Carolina, now we have seen individuals doubt her, and now we have seen her overcome these doubts,” stated Kim A. Wilkerson, a retired president of Bank of America in South Carolina and chairwoman of the board of trustees at Clemson University, Ms. Haley’s alma mater.
But these doubts gave the impression to be snowballing, and the drumbeat for her withdrawal solely grew louder.
“Republican voters have despatched a transparent message — they need to see the G.O.P. unite round our eventual nominee, which goes to be President Donald Trump,” the Republican Party chairman of Georgia, Josh McKoon, and the state’s Republican delegates wrote in a joint assertion on Wednesday. “It is tough to see how Ambassador Haley can safe the nomination.”
Even the chief strategist for Ms. Haley’s tremendous PAC, SFA Fund, Mark Harris, acknowledged on Wednesday she wanted to broaden her assist state by state to stay viable, with South Carolina the following massive goal.
“We must do higher with Republicans; now we have to do higher with conservatives,” he stated Wednesday. “We positively must develop in these key demographics to supply us a practical path to the nomination.”
Mr. Harris stated Ms. Haley and her tremendous PAC can be within the race for the lengthy haul. He pointed to the 17 Republican delegates she has amassed with the second-place end in New Hampshire and third-place end in Iowa. Until later within the course of when the winner of most states will take all of that state’s delegates, Ms. Haley can proceed to bolster her delegate rely, giving her leverage to assert the nomination if circumstances, reminiscent of a felony conviction on any of the 91 felony counts he faces, chase Mr. Trump from the race.
But Republicans in South Carolina and throughout the nation anxious that the technique would solely anger Mr. Trump and his supporters, successfully disqualifying her from consideration — this yr or sooner or later.
Donors who don’t get in line may additionally discover themselves at odds with Mr. Trump. In a put up on Truth Social on Wednesday night time, Mr. Trump vowed: “Anybody that makes a ‘Contribution’ to Birdbrain” — Mr. Trump’s nickname for Ms. Haley — “from this second forth, will likely be completely barred from the MAGA camp.”
Chad Connelly, a former South Carolina Republican Party chairman who has stayed impartial within the race, was open about his concern: “Nikki is nicely favored right here, and Trump is cherished,” he stated. “He’s going to roll her.”
History would inform Ms. Haley that the weeks earlier than South Carolina Republicans vote could be tough. After Senator John McCain of Arizona gained the New Hampshire major in 2000, he swept into South Carolina, predicting the state’s open major would convey Democrats and independents streaming to his trigger. Instead, a whisper marketing campaign by supporters of George W. Bush, the Texas governor then, spoke darkly and falsely of a Black daughter fathered by Mr. McCain out of wedlock. (He and his spouse had adopted a daughter from an orphanage in Bangladesh.)
Mr. McCain’s defeat in South Carolina put Mr. Bush again on monitor to win the nomination.
Mr. Trump on Tuesday night time hinted at a brutal marketing campaign to return.
“Just slightly word to Nikki,” he stated at his victory speech, as he mocked Ms. Haley’s dress. “She’s not going to win. But if she did, she can be below investigation by these individuals in quarter-hour, and I may inform you 5 explanation why already.”
Hollis Felkel, a veteran Republican political guide in South Carolina who labored for the Bush marketing campaign in 2000 and goes by Chip, stated Trump supporters had been already working to get as many state legislators and senators within the former president’s column — and letting lawmakers know there’s a record of those that aren’t. The soiled tips of the 2000 marketing campaign weren’t precisely “the stuff of legends,” he stated, however they had been “fairly dangerous.”
“Now we’re coping with an entire different degree of vitriol, and politics have gotten exponentially extra ugly” since 2000, he stated. “She’s going to get hit from all sides with each innuendo and with each grudge that continues to be from when she was governor.”
Over the previous few days, on-line influencers with shut ties to the Trump marketing campaign have begun posting misogynistic, extremely sexualized movies and pictures of Ms. Haley on social media. One of the movies, produced by a gaggle known as the Dilley Meme Team, makes use of “deep faux” expertise to place the sexual innuendo in her personal voice. A second, launched as New Hampshire voters had been nonetheless on the polls on Tuesday, brings up allegations of marital affairs that she has constantly denied however have dogged her since she was governor.
“The individuals of South Carolina are so significantly better than the politics of South Carolina,” Olivia Perez-Cubas, a Haley marketing campaign spokeswoman, stated. “Nikki Haley has confirmed she fights and wins for the individuals, it doesn’t matter what type of rubbish will get thrown at her from the political class.”
And Ms. Haley stepped up her personal assaults on Mr. Trump’s psychological colleges, his age and his braveness.
“Get on a debate stage and let’s go,” she stated at her rally. ”Bring it, Donald, present me what you’ve obtained.”
On Wednesday morning, she delivered her customary stump speech through Zoom to the Republican Party of the U.S. Virgin Islands, the place caucuses are scheduled for Feb. 8.
The Haley marketing campaign posted two commercials in South Carolina media markets, the primary hitting Mr. Trump and President Biden as “a rematch no one wants,” the second extolling her document as governor.
Meantime, the work of elevating cash to maintain the marketing campaign going in opposition to a tide of endorsements for Mr. Trump continued apace. A significant fund-raiser in New York City is deliberate for Jan. 30, whose co-hosts embrace the billionaire financier Kenneth G. Langone and the buyers Henry Kravis and Stanley Druckenmiller. Another is on faucet for Houston shortly thereafter.
Privately, nevertheless, her backers are dividing into two camps, in keeping with donors, fund-raisers and donor advisers who primarily spoke on the situation of anonymity to explain non-public conversations. First there are those that are dutifully fulfilling obligations to fund-raising efforts, regardless of believing that Mr. Trump’s nomination is all however assured and that she is going to seemingly again out inside weeks.
And there are these — primarily donors whose resistance to Mr. Trump is absolute — who’re nonetheless all in, believing that Ms. Haley wants the monetary sources to wrest the nomination from Mr. Trump, or no less than to maintain her marketing campaign alive within the occasion that one thing befalls him.
“Just preserve her on this race,” stated Fred Zeidman, a Texas businessman and one in every of Ms. Haley’s strongest backers. “She is the final one standing.”
As for her tremendous PAC, Mr. Harris stated he consulted with its largest backers after the New Hampshire loss. “They’re jazzed up, and we absolutely consider we’ll have the sources we’d like,” he stated.
Timothy C. Draper, a enterprise capital investor and early Haley backer who has been a serious contributor to the PAC, stated in an electronic mail Wednesday that “Democratic ladies who will seemingly vote for Nikki must register Republican now to convey her sufficient delegates to win the first.”
Mr. Draper’s perspective will get at a dynamic many donors identified on Wednesday — Ms. Haley is working within the Republican major, however in some methods is appearing as a third-party candidate, drawing assist from either side. This bodes poorly for Ms. Haley, but it surely additionally suggests weaknesses for each Mr. Trump and President Biden.
“There are all types of warning indicators for Trump,” stated Eric Levine, a New York lawyer who’s co-hosting the Jan. 30 fund-raiser. “He polled very poorly, very poorly, with independents and average Republicans. These are the very voters he’s going to want to win the swing states.”
But after New Hampshire, Ms. Haley’s underdog marketing campaign could also be on life assist. Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, urged the party “to unite round our eventual nominee, which is Donald Trump.” Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, endorsed him, as did Senators John Kennedy of Louisiana and Deb Fischer of Nebraska.
Pete Hoekstra, the party chairman of Michigan, the place the Haley marketing campaign has set its sights after South Carolina, additionally backed Mr. Trump and stated in a press release, “we are able to begin to focus our efforts on BEATING Joe Biden, moderately than in-party combating.”
A Democratic state consultant in South Carolina, J.A. Moore, stated he needed Ms. Haley to remain within the race and sharpen her assaults on Mr. Trump, until she would drop out and endorse Mr. Biden.
But, he warned, “She’s going to get creamed right here.”
Ken Bensinger and Jazmine Ulloa contributed reporting.