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Haley campaign acknowledges ‘uphill battle’, argues Trump would be weaker against Biden – live


Haley campaign acknowledges ‘uphill battle’, argues Trump would be weaker against Biden

In a call with reporters, Nikki Haley’s campaign manager Betsy Ankney acknowledged the long odds the former South Carolina governor faces with Republicans, but argued Donald Trump would fair much worse against Joe Biden in the November presidential election.

“We know that this is an uphill battle. We know that the road is difficult. We know that the math is challenging, but this has never just been about who can win a Republican primary,” Ankney said. “This battle is about who can win in November, defeat the Democrats and finally get our country back on track. And, the reality is no matter what all-caps rants Trump goes on on Twitter about the polls. He will not defeat Joe Biden in November and he will drag the entire Republican ticket down with him.”

She cited a recent poll from Marquette Law School showing Haley would beat Biden by a larger margin than Trump, while also warning that, if Trump is the nominee, the GOP will struggle to win seats in Congress:

There is a reason that Biden and the Democrats want to run against Trump. They know that they can beat him, yet again. If Trump is the nominee, the House is gone. If Trump is the nominee, the Senate map automatically shrinks from eight or nine seats to three, and keep in mind this is the best Senate map the Republicans have for the rest of the decade. If Trump is the nominee, the RNC will continue to be in shambles, they will continue to fund his legal bills and we will continue to lose. And if Trump is the nominee, we will continue to see the hate and division and chaos that has plagued the last seven years. So we know the odds here, but we also know the stakes, and we think that a whole lot of Republicans across the country do, too.

Key events

Illinois’ Democratic governor JB Pritzker criticized anti-abortion Republicans after Alabama’s supreme court ruled that frozen embryos are “children.”

In a tweet on Friday, Pritzker wrote:

“It has never been clearer that MAGA extremists will not stop at banning abortion. They are coming for contraception. They are coming for IVF. They are coming for women. And they will lose when voters have their say.”

It has never been clearer that MAGA extremists will not stop at banning abortion. They are coming for contraception. They are coming for IVF. They are coming for women. And they will lose when voters have their say. https://t.co/BGnXOjKauP

— JB Pritzker (@JBPritzker) February 23, 2024

Earlier this week, Pritzker announced that he is proposing the elimination of medical debt across Illinois and said he intends to “break down bureaucratic barriers in state government” by increasing coordination across agencies to improve reproductive healthcare services.

The day so far

This time tomorrow, Republican voters across South Carolina will be casting ballots in the state’s presidential primary, and all signs point to yet another victory for Donald Trump. Polling shows him with a mammoth lead over his last remaining challenger Nikki Haley, who happens to be the state’s former governor. In a call with reporters today, her campaign manager reiterated that she has no plans to quit, and argued Trump would be a far worse opponent against Joe Biden in the November general election.

Here’s what else is happening today:

  • Biden decried Republican House speaker Mike Johnson for not allowing the chamber to vote on new aid to Ukraine while giving lawmakers a two-week break.

  • Trump appealed to rightwing Christians, saying, “it’s the people from within our country that are more dangerous than the people outside”.

  • Even in her home state, Haley faces plenty of skepticism as she presses on with her presidential campaign.

Joe Biden is marking the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with a barrage of new sanctions aimed at Moscow’s revenues. Here’s more:

Joe Biden on Friday announced that Washington would issue more than 500 new sanctions targeting Russia as the US seeks to increase pressure on Moscow to mark the second anniversary of its war in Ukraine.

The US will also impose new export restrictions on nearly 100 entities for providing support to Russia, and take action to further reduce Russia’s energy revenues, the president said in a statement.

Biden has said the measures seek to hold Russia to account over the war and the death of the opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Washington expects to continue to support Ukraine even as that country faces shortages of ammunition and US military aid has been delayed for months in Congress.

“They will ensure Putin pays an even steeper price for his aggression abroad and repression at home,” Biden said of the new sanctions.

Biden attacks Republican House speaker Johnson for waffling on Ukraine aid ahead of invasion’s second anniversary

In remarks at the White House this morning, Joe Biden renewed his feud with Mike Johnson, accusing the Republican speaker of the House of going on vacation without allowing lawmakers to vote on approving more aid for Ukraine’s military:

“Russia is taking Ukraine territory for the first time in many months. But here in America, the Speaker gave the House a two-week vacation.”

— President Biden hits House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) for holding up foreign aid to Ukraine pic.twitter.com/oW3aUWq7xe

— The Recount (@therecount) February 23, 2024

In exchange for their support for new aid to Ukraine, Johnson has demanded Biden and the Democrats support hardline immigration policies. A bipartisan group of senators earlier this month announced a deal that would have done just that, but Johnson rejected it, and it’s now unclear if or how new Ukraine aid will make it through Congress.

The big question facing Nikki Haley is whether she will stay in the race through Super Tuesday on 5 March, when 15 states vote.

Should Donald Trump win those states, he’ll have a major lead in the delegates needed to win the Republican nomination. Asked about this on the press call, campaign manager Betsy Ankney again insisted Haley planned to continue competing:

We know the odds, we know the stakes. We have a full schedule through Super Tuesday, we have plans in place and those key states in March after that. And so, once again, this is about who can be successful in a general election. This is about taking our case to the American people, letting them have their voice. After South Carolina we’ll have just a handful of states who have voted – after Super Tuesday there will be a whole lot more. So, we are going to continue to fight as long as we see that there is an appetite for our message and so far, we’re seeing that there is.

A reporter asked campaign manager Betsy Ankney whether Nikki Haley would consider dropping out if she failed to reach a certain percentage of support in South Carolina, her home state.

Haley earlier in the week had given a speech where she refused to exit the race, despite Donald Trump’s victory in three consecutive states.

Ankney replied:

We have never gotten those benchmarks. We won’t start now. Once again, she made very clear in her speech on Tuesday that we are marching on and that’s what we intend to do.

Haley campaign acknowledges ‘uphill battle’, argues Trump would be weaker against Biden

In a call with reporters, Nikki Haley’s campaign manager Betsy Ankney acknowledged the long odds the former South Carolina governor faces with Republicans, but argued Donald Trump would fair much worse against Joe Biden in the November presidential election.

“We know that this is an uphill battle. We know that the road is difficult. We know that the math is challenging, but this has never just been about who can win a Republican primary,” Ankney said. “This battle is about who can win in November, defeat the Democrats and finally get our country back on track. And, the reality is no matter what all-caps rants Trump goes on on Twitter about the polls. He will not defeat Joe Biden in November and he will drag the entire Republican ticket down with him.”

She cited a recent poll from Marquette Law School showing Haley would beat Biden by a larger margin than Trump, while also warning that, if Trump is the nominee, the GOP will struggle to win seats in Congress:

There is a reason that Biden and the Democrats want to run against Trump. They know that they can beat him, yet again. If Trump is the nominee, the House is gone. If Trump is the nominee, the Senate map automatically shrinks from eight or nine seats to three, and keep in mind this is the best Senate map the Republicans have for the rest of the decade. If Trump is the nominee, the RNC will continue to be in shambles, they will continue to fund his legal bills and we will continue to lose. And if Trump is the nominee, we will continue to see the hate and division and chaos that has plagued the last seven years. So we know the odds here, but we also know the stakes, and we think that a whole lot of Republicans across the country do, too.

Tomorrow is the two-year anniversary of the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Nikki Haley this morning released a statement accusing Donald Trump of “appeasing Vladimir Putin”.

The former South Carolina governor cited comments from Trump where he encouraged Russia to attack Nato members, and compared his legal troubles to those of Alexei Navalny, the Russia opposition figure who died in prison last week.

“When it comes to Russia, Joe Biden has been five steps behind, and Donald Trump is openly appeasing Vladimir Putin,” Haley said. “From praising the Russian dictator to encouraging Putin to invade NATO countries, Americans and our allies have real concerns about Trump. That makes us less safe.”

Donald Trump stepped up his attempts to appeal to rightwing Christians ahead of South Carolina’s primary, the Guardian’s Alice Herman reports:

Donald Trump told a warmly receptive gathering of religious broadcasters on Thursday that “it’s the people from within our country that are more dangerous than the people outside”, in his latest effort to mobilize Christian fundamentalists who have swung dramatically behind him in recent years.

Trump’s speech in Nashville, Tennessee, to the National Religious Broadcasters presidential forum gala offered him a chance to pitch himself to hundreds of Christian media figures whose approval – and willingness to carry his message on air – could drive huge turnout in November.

“The greatest threat is not from the outside of our country – I really believe it is from within,” said Trump, whose fire-and-brimstone speech focused largely on his political enemies. “It’s the people from within our country that are more dangerous than the people outside.”

The former president’s relationship with the religious right has shifted since his unlikely bid for the presidency in 2016, when his campaign was met with deep skepticism from conservative Christian leaders who had initially thrown their support behind Ted Cruz.

The Guardian’s George Chidi is here to answer all your questions about tomorrow’s Republican presidential primary in South Carolina:

South Carolina Republicans will pick their candidate for president Saturday in the “first in the South” primary. Former president Donald Trump faces his former UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, on her home turf in a state that makes or breaks Republican candidacies. Haley has outlasted Trump’s other primary competitors and will make a stand in the state she served as governor for six years, but polling suggests she’s likely to be blown out.

South Carolina’s Democrats voted two weeks ago, giving president Joe Biden 96% of their votes in what increasingly appears to be a coronation parade to the nomination.

Here is everything you need to know about the South Carolina primary:

South Carolina is her home state, but on the campaign trail, the Guardian’s Lauren Gambino and Joan E Greve report that skepticism about her continued presence in the race is common:

Standing before a large crowd outside a waterfront hotel in Georgetown, Nikki Haley confronted the question that many Republicans in her “sweet” home state of South Carolina – and across the country – have asked: why is she still running for president?

“I don’t care about a political future. If I did, I would have been out by now,” she said. “I’m doing this for my kids. I’m doing this for your kids and your grandkids.”

Haley is the last candidate standing between Donald Trump and the Republican nomination he expects to wrap up within weeks.

But her path forward is vanishingly thin, after successive losses to Trump in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, followed by a stinging defeat in Nevada’s non-binding Republican primary in which, despite being the only major candidate on the ballot, Haley finished a distant second to the option labeled “none of these”.

On Saturday, she is bracing for another rebuke, this time at the hands of the very Republican voters who once elevated her to the governor’s mansion. A Suffolk University/USA Today poll released this week of likely South Carolina Republican primary voters showed Trump trouncing Haley by a margin of nearly 2 to 1, 63% to 35%.

But Haley has made clear that she has no intention of conceding the nomination – not yet anyway.

Polls indicate Trump maintains about 30-point polling average over Haley in South Carolina

By all indications, Donald Trump is set to, once again, clobber Nikki Haley in South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary on Saturday.

A Suffolk University/USA Today poll conducted in recent days found Trump leading the state’s likely Republican primary voters with 63% support compared to Haley’s 35%. Poll aggregator FiveThirtyEight finds Trump with a more than 30-point lead over his last remaining major Republican challenger.

Trump has been on a roll ever since Iowa’s caucuses in January, where he knocked one of his biggest rivals, Florida governor Ron DeSantis out of the race. Haley, the former South Carolina governor, failed to best him or even come close in New Hampshire. In Nevada, Haley suffered the embarrassment of losing to “none of the candidates” in the state’s primaries, while Trump won its caucuses, which the GOP will use to allocate the state’s delegates.

Trump and Haley in final sprint before key South Carolina primary

Good morning, US politics blog readers. For Donald Trump and Nikki Haley, today is the last day of campaigning in South Carolina before its primary on Saturday, which polls show the former president is tipped to win. Trump has been on a streak of victories in the first states to vote in the Republican presidential nomination process, winning Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. Haley, meanwhile, seems poised for rejection in the state she governed from 2011 to 2017, and if that indeed happens, it’s not quite clear where she’ll make her next stand to win the GOP’s nomination – Trump leads pretty much every other state poll.

But before all that can happen, the two candidates will have to get through a day of campaign events. Trump speaks at 4pm ET in Rock Hill, while Haley has two events near the largest city, Charleston. Her campaign is also holding a call for reporters at 11am on the “state of the race”, days after Haley made a defiant speech in which she refused to quit.

Here’s what else is happening today:

  • Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate majority leader, is visiting Ukraine as he presses Congress to approve more military assistance for its defense against Russia.

  • Joe Biden welcomes a group of governors to the White House at 10.45am.

  • White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will take reporters’ questions at 1.30pm.





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