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Trump cruises to New Hampshire win, Haley vows to fight on to South Carolina

3 min

Donald Trump cruised to victory in New Hampshire's Republican presidential contest on Tuesday, marching closer to a November rematch with Democratic President Joe Biden even as his sole remaining rival for the nomination, Nikki Haley, vowed to soldier on.

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during his New Hampshire presidential primary election night watch party, in Nashua, New Hampshire, U.S., January 23, 2024. Reuters/Mike Segar

Donald Trump cruised to victory in New Hampshire's Republican presidential contest on Tuesday, marching closer to a November rematch with Democratic President Joe Biden even as his sole remaining rival for the nomination, Nikki Haley, vowed to soldier on.

"This race is far from over," Haley, a former U.N. ambassador, told supporters at a post-election party in Concord, challenging Trump to debate her.

"I'm a fighter. And I'm scrappy. And now we're the last one standing next to Donald Trump."

At his own party in Nashua, Trump, 77, opened his speech by mocking Haley, 52, calling her an "imposter" and saying: "She's doing, like, a speech like she won. She didn't win. She lost ... She had a very bad night."

The former president's remarks followed a series of angry posts on his Truth Social app, denouncing her as "DELUSIONAL."

The next competitive contest is scheduled for Feb. 24 in South Carolina, where Haley was born and served two terms as governor.

Trump has racked up endorsements from most of the state's Republican figures, and opinion polls show him with a wide lead there.

In New Hampshire, with 86% of the expected vote tallied, according to Edison Research, Trump held a comfortable 54.4% to 43.5% lead.

Haley had hoped the northeastern state's sizable cadre of independent voters would carry her to an upset win that might loosen Trump's iron grip on the Republican Party.

Instead, Trump became the first Republican to sweep competitive votes in both Iowa and New Hampshire since 1976, when the two states cemented their status as the first nominating contests.

The result will likely bolster some Republicans' calls for Haley to drop out so the party can coalesce behind Trump.

Her campaign vowed in a memo earlier on Tuesday to push forward until "Super Tuesday" on March 5, when Republicans in 15 states and one territory vote.

ONE-ON-ONE

Tuesday's vote was the first one-on-one matchup between Trump and Haley, after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, once seen as Trump's most formidable challenger, dropped out on Sunday and endorsed Trump.

Meanwhile, Edison projected Biden, 81, the winner of the New Hampshire Democratic primary, brushing aside challenger, U.S. Representative Dean Phillips.

Despite Trump's win on Tuesday, exit polls hinted at his potential vulnerabilities in a general election campaign.

Trump faces 91 criminal charges for a range of offenses, including his efforts to overturn his 2020 defeat and his retention of classified documents after leaving the White House in 2021. He has denied any wrongdoing and claimed to be a victim of political persecution.

About 42% of voters who participated in the Republican primary said he would not be fit to serve if convicted in court, according to exit polling by Edison.

There were also warning signs for Biden, however. Three-quarters of Republican primary voters said the economy was either poor or not good, an area where Biden has struggled to highlight his administration's accomplishments.

Republicans made up a slightly smaller share of voters in the primary relative to the state's 2016 Republican contest in the state, the exit polls showed.

Some 51% of voters considered themselves Republican, compared to 55% in the 2016 primary. Six percent said they considered themselves Democrats, compared to 3% in 2016. The share of independents was little changed at 43%.

Biden declined to appear on the ballot in New Hampshire's Democratic primary, having supported an effort by his party to move their first primary election to the more diverse state of South Carolina.

New Hampshire supporters were still able to vote for Biden by writing his name on the ballot, offering a barometer of his political strength. With 56% of the estimated vote counted, according to Edison, Biden had 67.0%, far ahead of Phillips at 19.6%.

BIDEN AIMS AT TRUMP

The Democratic president, whose advisers are anticipating a rematch with Trump, took aim at Republicans over their efforts to curb abortion rights in a Virginia speech on Tuesday.

In a statement later, Biden said: "It is now clear that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee. And my message to the country is the stakes could not be higher. Our democracy. Our personal freedoms — from the right to choose to the right to vote. Our economy — which has seen the strongest recovery in the world since COVID."

Haley had stepped up her attacks on Trump as the election drew near, criticizing his affinity for strongmen such as North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

Haley has also gone after Trump's age and mental acuity, attacks she has also regularly leveled at Biden.

In her speech on Tuesday, Haley warned that Trump would lose to Biden again if nominated.

"The worst-kept secret in politics is how badly the Democrats want to run against Donald Trump," she said. "They know Trump is the only Republican in the country who Joe Biden can defeat."

By Nathan Layne, Gram Slattery and James Oliphant

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