Haley ends White House bid, Trump eyes Biden rematch


Republican US presidential candidate Nikki Haley is expected to suspend her bid for the White House.
Republican US presidential candidate Nikki Haley is expected to suspend her bid for the White House.

Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley will suspend her presidential campaign, according to a source familiar with her plans, ensuring that Donald Trump will win the Republican nomination and once again face Democratic President Joe Biden in November’s election.

Haley will give a speech on Wednesday morning to address her future in the race, the source said, but she will not make an endorsement at that time. She will urge Trump to try to win the backing of her supporters, which include a significant chunk of moderate Republicans and independent voters, the source added.

Former president Donald Trump beat Nikki Haley in 14 of the 15 Republican nominating states. (EPA PHOTO)

Haley’s decision to suspend her campaign comes a day after Super Tuesday, when Trump beat her soundly in 14 of the 15 Republican nominating contests.

Haley lasted longer than any other Republican challenger to Trump but never posed a serious threat to the former president, whose iron grip on the party’s base remains firm despite his multiple criminal indictments.

The rematch between Trump, 77, and Biden, 81 – the first repeat US presidential contest since 1956 – is one that few Americans want. Opinion polls show both Biden and Trump have low approval ratings among voters.

The election promises to be deeply divisive in a country already riven by political polarisation. Biden has cast Trump as an existential danger to democratic principles, while Trump has sought to re-litigate his false claims that he won in 2020.

Haley, 52, had drawn support from deep-pocketed donors intent on stopping Trump from winning a third consecutive Republican presidential nomination.

She ultimately failed to pry loose enough conservative voters in the face of Trump’s dominance.

Election 2024 Super Tuesday
The Trump, 77, and Biden, 81, rematch will be the first repeat US presidential contest since 1956. (AP PHOTO)

But her stronger showing among moderate Republicans and independents highlighted how Trump’s scorched-earth style of politics could make him vulnerable in the November 5 election.

On March 3, she won the Washington, DC, Republican primary with 62.9 per cent of the vote, versus 33.2 per cent for Trump. On Tuesday, her only win came in Vermont, a small, deeply Democratic state.

Biden has his own baggage, including widespread concern about his age. Three-quarters of respondents in a February Reuters/Ipsos poll said he was too old to work in government, after already serving as the oldest US president in history.

About half of respondents said the same about Trump.

The central issues of the 2024 campaign have already come into focus. Despite low unemployment, a red-hot stock market and easing inflation, voters have voiced dissatisfaction with Biden’s economic performance.

Biden’s other major weakness is the state of the US-Mexico border, where a surge of migrants overwhelmed the system after Biden eased some Trump-era policies. Trump’s hawkish stance on immigration – including a promise to initiate the largest deportation effort in history – is at the core of his campaign, just as it was in 2016.

Trump may be dogged by his myriad criminal charges throughout the year, though the federal case charging him with trying to overturn the 2020 election, perhaps the weightiest he faces, has been paused while Trump pursues a long-shot argument that he is immune from prosecution.

Abortion, too, will play a crucial role after the nine-member US Supreme Court, buoyed by three Trump appointees, eliminated a nationwide right to terminate pregnancies in 2022. The subject has become a political liability for Republicans, helping Democrats over-perform expectations in the 2022 midterm elections.

Immigration and the economy will be hot topics in the 2024 presidential campaign. (EPA PHOTO)

Haley, a former governor of South Carolina, had been among the first Republican contenders to enter the race in February 2023, but she was largely an afterthought until garnering attention for her stand-out debate performances later in the year.

She put her foreign policy expertise at the centre of her campaign, adopting hawkish stances toward China and Russia and forcefully advocating for continued aid to Ukraine, a stance that put her at odds with the more isolationist Trump.

But she was reluctant to completely disavow her former boss – she served as Trump’s UN ambassador – despite his four indictments and two impeachments. Trump showed no such reticence, frequently insulting her intelligence and Indian heritage.

Only in the last months of her campaign did Haley begin to forcefully hit back at Trump, questioning his mental acuity, calling him a liar and saying he was too afraid to debate her.