With two weeks before the South Carolina Republican Primary, Nikki Haley is trying to challenge Donald Trump on her home turf while the former President tries to quash his last major rival’s narrow path to the nomination.
Trump, turning his campaign focus to the Southern state days after an easy victory in Nevada, revved up a massive crowd of supporters at a Saturday afternoon rally in Conway, near Myrtle Beach, by touting his time in office, repeating his false claims that the 2020 election he lost was rigged, maligning a news media he sees as biased against him and lobbing attacks on Haley and President Joe Biden.
In his rally speech, Trump insulted Haley by using his derisive nickname for her, “Birdbrain,” and lavished praise on South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, who endorsed him early. Trump claimed that he selected Haley to serve as his ambassador to the United Nations in 2017 and represent America on the world stage only because he was motivated to make McMaster — her second-in-command — the Governor of South Carolina.
Trump, who has long been the front-runner in the GOP presidential race, won three states in a row and is looking to use South Carolina’s Feb. 24 Primary to close out Haley’s chances and turn his focus entirely on an expected rematch with Biden in the general election.
Haley skipped the Nevada Caucuses, condemning the contest as rigged for Trump, and has instead focused on South Carolina, kicking off a two-week bus tour across the state where she served as Governor from 2011 to 2017.
Speaking to about a couple hundred people gathered outside a historic opera house in Newberry, Haley on Saturday portrayed Trump as an erratic and self-absorbed figure not focused on the American people.
Haley reprised her questions of Trump’s mental fitness, an attack she has sharpened since a Jan. 19 speech in which he repeatedly confused her with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Haley, 52, has called throughout her campaign for mental competency tests for politicians, a way to contrast with 77-year-old Trump and 81-year-old Biden.
“Why do we have to have someone in their 80s run for office?” she asked. “Why can’t they let go of their power?”
A person in the crowd shouted out: “Because they’re grumpy old men!”
Republished with permission of The Associated Press.