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Trump pivots to November election after thrashing Haley

Greg Bluestein and Adam Van Brimmer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Political News

ROCK HILL, S.C. – Once so eager to berate and batter Nikki Haley, former President Donald Trump sent an unmistakable message to his GOP rival as he won a blowout victory Saturday in her home state of South Carolina. He simply ignored her.

As Trump coasted to his fourth consecutive victory in nominating contests, he and his allies zeroed in on President Joe Biden. He painted himself as the inevitable nominee despite Haley’s vow to continue her campaign into March.

“The end is near,” wrote Trump’s co-campaign managers, a mantra that has filtered down to many Trump loyalists ready to pivot to the general election campaign.

“It’s all about November and Biden now,” said Gabriel Schmidt, a Greenville resident who cheered Trump at a campaign event at Winthrop University over the weekend.

Haley’s already slim chances are narrowing by the week. She can’t name a single state she can win, and she’s increasingly relying on a coalition of moderates, independents and Democrats to capture GOP contests dominated by conservative voters.

Still, she charted out plans to rally in Michigan for Tuesday’s primary, then trek to Minnesota, Colorado, Utah, Virginia, Washington, North Carolina and Massachusetts ahead of the Super Tuesday votes on March 5.

 

She won’t say whether she’ll compete in Georgia’s March 12 primary. But she insists she’s staying in the race to give voters an alternative to the Trump-Biden rematch that many say they dread.

“In the next 10 days, another 21 states and territories will speak. They have the right to a real choice, not a Soviet-style election with only one candidate,” Haley said. “And I have a duty to give them that choice.”

Her outlook looks bleaker than ever. Trump aides calculated in a recent memo that if Haley’s 43% level of support in New Hampshire was applied to all the contests, Trump would lock up enough delegates to win the nomination by March 19. If he does better, he could clinch it with Georgia’s vote.

“She’s not going to be the nominee. We know that. She knows that. She’s hurting the party and hurting the country,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Collins, a Jackson Republican who campaigned with Trump in South Carolina this weekend.

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