In the aftermath of her defiant concession speech following the New Hampshire Republican primary, Nikki Haley, the last remaining challenger to Donald Trump, is bracing for a wave of political attacks. Trump, who already targeted Haley’s Indian ethnicity and accused her of being a China “patsy,” now amplifies a “birther” lie, questioning her eligibility to run for president.
As calls for Haley to drop out of the race intensify, analysts predict a relentless onslaught of mudslinging against the former South Carolina governor. Rick Wilson, co-founder of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, warns that South Carolina’s notorious dirty politics await Haley, describing it as a “buzzsaw” she cannot avoid.
Trump, facing felony indictments, used his New Hampshire victory speech to assail Haley’s character, appearance, and baselessly suggested she is susceptible to a criminal investigation. “I don’t get too angry. I get even,” Trump declared.
Haley, known for her cautious approach, has shifted gears to directly confront Trump. Capitalizing on a confusing Trump rant, she suggested that her former boss is experiencing cognitive decline at 77.
Now, as the battle moves to South Carolina, known for its cutthroat politics, analysts anticipate a “brutal, nasty, and ugly” campaign. Trump, with a stronghold on the state’s Republicans, is expected to make Haley’s political life challenging.
The Palmetto State has a history of campaign outrages, including dirty tricks and personal attacks. Haley, during her 2010 gubernatorial run, faced accusations of extramarital affairs and derogatory comments about her Indian heritage.
South Carolina’s Republican chairman, Drew McKissick, acknowledged the state’s rough political landscape, warning that “Politics ain’t beanbag” and emphasizing their use of “sharp elbows.”
Despite the uphill battle, Haley’s supporters assert her readiness for the onslaught. Mark Harris, a strategist for a pro-Haley super PAC, highlights her history of winning primaries against the odds.
However, Trump continues to target Haley’s Indian ancestry, using nicknames and questioning her citizenship. In response, Haley focuses on Trump’s age, citing instances of confusion. With Trump’s campaign expected to escalate its attacks, Haley faces a crucial month leading to the South Carolina primary, seen as a make-or-break moment for her candidacy.