Nikki Haley vows to stay in presidential race, not give into GOP 'herd mentality'

Republican presidential hopeful former Gov. Nikki Haley addresses a crowd of supporters at the Embassy Suites in North Charleston, S.C., in January. The former U.N. ambassador and South Carolina governor vowed to stay in the race until Super Tuesday. Photo by Richard Ellis/UPI
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Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Nikki Haley, the last Republican primary candidate to hold out hope for unseating former President Donald Trump, told supporters Tuesday she isn't going anywhere.

At an invite-only event of about 50 people in Greenville, S.C., the former United Nations ambassador and South Carolina governor pledged to stay in the race beyond the South Carolina primary on Saturday.

Haley's speech follows decisive losses in Iowa and New Hampshire, as well as a presumed loss in her home state of South Carolina, where Trump is favored in polling. Many high-level Republicans have called on her to end her run and fall in line behind Trump.

She told supporters Tuesday, however, "I feel no need to kiss the ring," and vowed she would not give into the "herd mentality" of her fellow Republicans "who now publicly embrace Trump" but "privately dread him."

"We don't anoint kings in this country," she said. "We have elections. And Donald Trump, of all people, should know we don't rig elections."

Haley went on to disparage Trump by calling him a "bully" who's "getting meaner and more offensive by the day" and argued he's "completely distracted" by his numerous court hearings.

Media outlets reported Trump's campaign advisers released a memo calling Haley a "wailing loser hell-bent on an alternative reality" and that she had been "rejected by those who know her the best" in South Carolina.

Haley on Tuesday framed her run as an effort on behalf of the fraction of the Republican party that would not bow to Trump and for the "70% of the country" that does not want a Biden-Trump rematch.

"I'm willing to take the cuts, the bruises and the name calling," she said. "Do we really want to spend every day from now until November, watching America's two most disliked politicians duke it out? No sane person wants that."

Haley also took aim at President Joe Biden over his border and economic policies, as well as his mental fitness.

"Every time he opens his mouth, he sounds like his mind is closed-up shop," she said.

Haley plans to stop next in Michigan before the state's primary on Feb. 27. She has pledged to stay in the race at least until Super Tuesday on March 5.

While polling numbers in South Carolina put her at 32% versus Trump's 58%, Haley has the cash to continue running. Her campaign has held high-dollar fundraisers throughout the country recently, with January being her top fundraising month for the entire race.

Her campaign continues to roll out leadership teams in at least eight of the 15 Super Tuesday states, including California and Texas, where she just finished with a round of fundraising, and in Massachusetts and Vermont, which previously rejected Trump in general elections.

"Dropping out would be the easy route," she said. "I've never taken the easy route."