Politics

Haley’s big ad buy signals she’s staying in the race through Super Tuesday : NPR

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Republican presidential hopeful and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign stop in Georgetown, S.C., on Thursday, ahead of the state’s GOP primary on Saturday.

Julia Nikhinson/AFP via Getty Images


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Julia Nikhinson/AFP via Getty Images

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Republican presidential hopeful and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign stop in Georgetown, S.C., on Thursday, ahead of the state’s GOP primary on Saturday.

Julia Nikhinson/AFP via Getty Images

Acknowledging the race is an uphill climb, Nikki Haley’s campaign Friday said it will be launching a “seven-figure” national cable and digital ad buy that will take it through at least Super Tuesday.

Super Tuesday, which lands on March 5, is the single biggest primary day of the year with voters in 15 states and one territory going to the polls to cast their preference for a nominee. It’s an expensive endeavor to try and win over voters in that many states, and the demographics of those states don’t line up in Haley’s favor.

She’s also expected to lose her home state of South Carolina in Saturday’s GOP primary. Former President Donald Trump has a significant lead in the polls there.

Nonetheless, Haley’s team said she’s staying in.

“We know that the math is challenging,” said campaign manager Betsy Ankney on a call with reporters, “but this has never just been about who can win a Republican primary. This battle is about who can win in November, defeat the Democrats and finally get our country back on track.”

So far, though, an electability argument — that Haley is the best positioned candidate to defeat President Biden — hasn’t resonated with base Republican voters. Trump leads by an average of more than 60 points in national polls, and no single day will be closer to a national primary than Super Tuesday.

Despite the arguments and warnings she’s made about Trump, Haley told NPR on Thursday that she sees Biden as the greater threat to democracy.

“I have a lot of concerns about Trump regaining the presidency,” she said. “I have even more concerns about Joe Biden being president. I mean, you look at both of these men and all they have done is given us chaos, all they have given us is division.”

Haley is able to stay in for as long as her campaign and the groups supporting her have money

Even though Trump appears to have majority support in the party, there is clearly a wealthy and significant segment of those right of center who want her to stay in and, to this point, are willing to spend to do it.

Campaign ad spending crossed the $300 million threshold this week and a super PAC supporting Haley, SFA Fund Inc., has led the way, spending more than $63 million.

Since the New Hampshire primary last month, Haley’s campaign, SFA Fund Inc. and the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity Action have dominated the airwaves in South Carolina. They’ve spent $14.2 million compared to just $845,00 for Trump.

Sarah McCammon contributed reporting.

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