An Irritated Victor and a Persistent Contender

Despite a resounding win in the US state of New Hampshire, Donald Trump is visibly irked: He’s pushing for Nikki Haley to exit the contest for the Republican presidential nomination. Here’s the latest from Washington:

Donald Trump, standing tall in victory, yet lacking in fervor.
Donald Trump stood triumphant as the clock struck 9:30 p.m. (local time) on Tuesday evening in a Nashua hotel. With the primary votes tallied in the New England state of New Hampshire, he commanded well over 50 percent. The victory was indisputably his. However, the 77-year-old struggled to muster a smile. “I debated within myself: Do I step out and express gratitude to everyone? Or do I address the mystery figure who claimed victory ahead of me?” he revealed, facing the cameras.

Opting for the latter, the former president seemed compelled by his seething discontent. “I’ll try not to get too worked up; I’ll maintain composure,” he snorted, though it sounded more like self-assurance than reality. Contrasting starkly with Trump’s demeanor a week prior, after the Iowa caucuses, where he graciously acknowledged his rivals Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis and called for unity, this was a different Trump altogether.


The Trigger
It wasn’t Trump’s own victory that rankled the narcissist but rather the premature appearance of his rival, Nikki Haley, who had congratulated him explicitly an hour before his own appearance. However, by taking the stage earlier, she stole his thunder, defying the Republican stalwart’s demand for submission. “That’s unacceptable,” Trump growled.

Nearly Secured
Objectively speaking, with his second victory in the primary race, the ex-president is virtually assured his party’s nod for the Oval Office once more. Except for Haley, all serious internal contenders have bowed out. Just recently, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, once hailed as a beacon of hope, withdrew and threw his support behind Trump. More Republican governors, senators, and representatives are defecting daily. “Donald Trump has all but clinched his candidacy,” declared President Joe Biden in a campaign missive.

In the relatively moderate state of New Hampshire, where swing voters also participate in the Republican nomination, Trump secured approximately 54 percent of the vote, leaving Haley with 43 percent. Despite forecasts indicating she might fare worse in more conservative states, the former UN ambassador, known for her moderate rhetoric and commitment to traditional Republican foreign policy with NATO, shows no signs of bowing out just yet.

Strategic Maneuvering
“The race is far from decided,” she declared to her supporters on election night. Reports suggest her campaign still holds reserves of four million dollars. Haley is rallying major donors for further support, emphasizing her better odds in the general election. According to an AP agency survey, at least 19 percent of Republican voters are disenchanted with Trump and hesitant to support him again. “A Trump candidacy spells a Biden victory and a Kamala Harris presidency,” Haley summarized her argument.

Observers speculate on Haley’s strategic calculus. With five months until the party conference in Milwaukee, where the nominee will be crowned, Trump is amassing delegate votes. Despite New Hampshire’s favorable demographics, Haley faces a tough road ahead; she won’t even compete in the primaries in Nevada in two weeks. Polls show her trailing Trump by 30 percent in her home state of South Carolina at the end of February.

South Carolina Showdown
A defeat in South Carolina might prompt Haley to exit the race. Yet, she could be holding out in case of Trump’s legal conviction. Alternatively, she might be inflating her political value, eyeing the vice-presidential spot. Regardless, she’s becoming increasingly thorny for Trump. “If she persists, we’ll have to divert resources against Biden,” he lamented to Fox News.

In any case, the Biden camp anticipates a rematch of the “Biden versus Trump” saga.

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