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Friday April 19, 2024

Trump wins South Carolina, beating Nikki Haley in her home state

The former president had been widely favoured to win the Southern state

By our correspondent
February 26, 2024
Former US President Donald Trump gestures after victory. — AFP/File
Former US President Donald Trump gestures after victory. — AFP/File

COLUMBIA, South Carolina: Donald Trump easily defeated Nikki Haley in South Carolina’s Republican contest on Sunday, extending his winning streak as he marches toward a third consecutive presidential nomination and a rematch with Democratic President Joe Biden.

The former president had been widely favoured to win the Southern state, despite his litany of criminal charges and Haley’s status as a native of South Carolina who won two terms as governor.

The big win bolstered calls from Trump’s allies that Haley, his last remaining challenger, should drop out of the race. But Haley, who outperformed expectations based on opinion polls, defiantly insisted she would fight on at least through “Super Tuesday” on March 5, when Republicans in 15 states and one US territory will cast ballots.

Trump won with 59.8 percent support against 39.5 percent for Haley with 99 percent of the expected vote tallied, according to Edison Research. Statewide opinion polls before Saturday had given Trump an average lead of 27.6 percentage points, according to the tracking website 538. “40 percent is not some tiny group,” Haley said of her vote share. “There are huge numbers of voters in our Republican primaries who are saying they want an

alternative.”

Trump has dominated all five Republican primary contests thus far - in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, the US Virgin Islands and now Haley’s home state - leaving Haley with no evident path to the Republican nomination. Trump gave his victory speech in Columbia, the state capital, minutes after the polls closed and did not mention Haley, claiming his party’s mantle as he looked ahead to November’s general election.

“I have never seen the Republican Party so unified as it is right now,” he said.

In recent days Haley had notably sharpened her attacks on Trump, questioning his mental acuity and warning voters he would lose the general election to Biden.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump warned that Prince Harry will be “on his own” if he is re-elected as president in 2024 after criticising the Duke of Sussex’s “unforgivable” betrayal of Queen Elizabeth II. While speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Md on Saturday, Trump criticised President Joe Biden’s administration for being “too gracious” to the Sussexes ever since Harry and his American wife Meghan moved to California in 2020.

“I wouldn’t protect him. He betrayed the Queen. That’s unforgivable. He would be on his own if it was down to me,” the former president told The Express, as he claimed President Joe Biden’s administration had given the immigrant special privileges. When asked about Biden’s approach to the Sussexes, Trump bashed the president’s policies, explaining, “I think they have been too gracious to him after what he has done.”

Trump’s comments come as Prince Harry’s immigration status has become embroiled in a legal battle by the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, which has argued that the 39-year-old royal could not have legally entered the US because he admitted to taking illegal drugs in his memoir.

Admissions of drug abuse can be a serious hurdle for non-Americans who want to be admitted to the country.

In “Spare,” Harry wrote that when he was younger he had taken cocaine, marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms, noting that the cocaine “didn’t do anything for me,” but “Marijuana is different, that actually really did help me.” The Heritage Foundation’s lawsuit argues that US law “generally renders such a person inadmissible for entry” to the country, but lawyers representing the Department of Homeland Security argued differently in court last week, saying something in a book wasn’t “sworn testimony or proof.”

The lawyers argued Prince Harry’s account could have been embellished to “sell books,” noting that “saying something in a book doesn’t necessarily make it true.” Earlier this week, reports suggested the prince may be looking to jump back into his working royal life after growing “very bored.”

The royal also admitted he had thought about becoming a US citizen, but he may have to give up his title to do so.

Generally being married to a citizen gives immigrants the right to a marriage green card enabling them to live and work in the states. It was unclear what kind of visa Harry used to enter the US.