And, oh, yeah, according to Marjorie Taylor Greene,
her consultants should go to jail.
Now, there’s a natural tendency for a party, once a candidate has established a decisive lead for the nomination, to push other opponents to exit. But the vehemence of the attacks on Haley goes beyond this normal pressure on a trailing candidate; her internal GOP enemies are making a moral condemnation of her, as a political candidate and person, for not suspending immediately.
Since Haley is not inclined to do that, she came out early in the evening on Tuesday and declared that the race was “far from over,” in fact, was just getting started. She congratulated Trump, but pressed her arguments against him. She touted her growth in support from low single digits, and vowed to fight on through South Carolina.
Was this read on events closely tethered to reality? Not really. Did she take advantage of the timing to get in front of the cameras while the margin in the race was single digits? Of course. That’s what shrewd candidates always do. The fact of the matter is that any candidate — until such time as they drop out of the race — has to project confidence, put the best spins on things, and pledge to solider on.
Yet MAGA voices are accusing her of bad form and say, as
pro-Trump commentator Steve Cortes put it, that she needs to do the “honorable” thing and drop out.
This is amusing coming from people who defend a man, Trump, who will fight and claw for every advantage no matter what the rules or niceties, something his supporters affirmatively like about him.
Yet they are having fainting spells that Haley may stay in the race for another month. Or to put it differently, Trump can chase Haley and Ron DeSantis around the front yard with an ax and it’s fine, but if Haley uses her salad fork during the wrong dinner course, they pronounce themselves shocked and horrified.
Needless to say, if Trump had lost New Hampshire, he wouldn’t have congratulated Haley. He would have attacked her more vehemently even than after his victory, and insisted that she’d had robbed the election from him in some dastardly scheme, just the way Ted Cruz supposedly stole the Iowa caucuses in 2016.
We got a taste of what this would have been like in the criticisms of the process in New Hampshire. The state allows unaffiliated voters to participate in partisan primaries, although it isn’t a strictly open primary. Independents have to register as Republicans or Democrats to vote, then can quickly switch back. In contrast, South Carolina is a truly open primary; anyone can vote in either the Democratic or Republican contest.
There aren’t any MAGA complaints about the Palmetto State, though, since Trump is expected to romp in the state. For that matter, Trump won independents in 2016 in New Hampshire, and it was rightly taken by his supporters as a sign of strength rather than an act of partisan betrayal.
It also doesn’t make much sense for Trump supporters to insist, not unreasonably or incorrectly, that the primary race is over because Trump has established a position of such dominance in the GOP, and also inveigh against the threat to his prospects posed by the inevitable loser who is out of touch with the party and an avatar of the past.
The elephant really shouldn’t be afraid of the mouse, let alone offended by the existence of the small creature such that he’s driven into an obsessive rage by it.
Trump could choose to ignore Haley and, looking ahead to the general, probably campaign in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia rather than South Carolina, and still win the primary. But her mere presence in the race is deemed intolerable and his most fervent supporters discern the handiwork of a shadowy cabal.
Vivek Ramaswamy, who’d be willing to say that his own mother was in on the faking of the moon landing if he thought it’d win him more MAGA credibility, professes to understand the conspiracy. “I think that if she stays in this race, it will continue to reveal that there are
some sinister forces at work here,” he told Fox News Digital.
“There’s no path for her to defeat Donald Trump through the front door,” Ramaswamy explained, “which means what they’re actually rooting for is eliminating him from competition and then it becomes no mystery that the very people propping up Nikki Haley are the very people who are also paying for the lawsuits to keep Donald J. Trump off the ballot and the lawsuits against him.”
All this energy is being devoted, not to attacking Biden, but the second-place finisher in New Hampshire who doesn’t have an obvious path to winning a major state. If there’s nothing wrong with her winning independents, Haley does need to be much stronger among Republicans to have any future in the race. Despite the brave talk now, she may end up dropping out ahead of South Carolina.
All the indications are that Haley isn’t creating strong loyalists in her element of the primary vote that will follow her wherever she goes. But she is appealing to the Republicans and Republican-leaning independents that Trump needs to substantially bring home in November to beat Biden. Killing her with kindness would make much more sense for Trump than, in irate speeches and unhinged social media posts, reminding her voters why they don’t like him in the first place.
The fault here isn’t with Haley, but with Trump himself.