South Carolina’s leading newspaper is encouraging the Republican party to clear the field for Indian American presidential hopeful Nikki Haley to take on former President Donald Trump, arguing a crowded field will lead to Trump’s reelection.
“Donald Trump won the GOP nomination in 2016 not because he was the choice of most Republican primary voters; he was not,” The Post and Courier editorial board wrote in an op-ed Saturday. “He won because, in a crowded field, he got more votes than any of his rivals in South Carolina, and then in later-voting states.”
READ: Nikki Haley beats Biden by four points in new poll (October 12, 2023)
The op-ed argued Trump remains unpopular among independents and “a large chunk” of Republicans and attributed his leading poll numbers to the crowded field of candidates “drowning each other out.”
“The result, if the field remains crowded, is that Mr. Trump will again win the nomination,” the op-ed read.
The editorial board went on to argue that a scenario in which Trump becomes the 2024 Republican presidential nominee is disastrous for voters across the political spectrum.
The op-ed said it would be a bad outcome for Republicans because Trump is “the least likely candidate to defeat President Joe Biden,” and for Democrats and independents “because there’s no guarantee that Mr Biden would win a rematch.”
“Although Ms. Haley should never be confused with a moderate, she could easily be next year’s choice of independents and traditional Republicans,” the op-ed continued. “But that requires the other candidates getting out of the way.”
The op-ed said it joins the calls of others such as former Texas Rep. Will Hurd, who endorsed Haley after dropping out of the Republican presidential primary earlier this month, and columnist George Will, who called for Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) to drop out and back Haley instead in a Washington Post op-ed.
“But as Mr. Will explained, and as Mr. Hurd and others who have been calling for an early winnowing have understood, a compressed start to the primary season means it will be nearly impossible for one candidate to consolidate the vote after the voting has started; that takes time and money and organization that a challenger needs to be putting into place right now,” the op-ed wrote. “Even starting now, the odds remain against victory for a serious, qualified Republican.”
Describing Haley — who served as US ambassador to the UN under Trump and as governor of South Carolina — as the one Republican who is “clearly ascending” in polls, fundraising and “willingness to challenge” Trump, the op-ed said Haley’s foreign policy credentials “leaves the rest of this year’s GOP field in the dust.”
Haley has made foreign policy a central focus of her campaign, vowing to back Ukraine and Israel in their respective conflicts against Russia and Hamas, as well as fight the growing influence of China.
Haley, along with her Republican rivals, has struggled to make a dent in Trump’s considerable lead in the Republican presidential primary polls.
A recent poll from Morning Consult shows Trump leading with 59% of the likely Republican vote, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has 14% support and Haley and Indian American entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy are tied for 6%.
However, another poll from Fox News shows Haley could stand a chance against Biden. In a hypothetical match-up between Biden and Haley, she tops the incumbent by 4 points.
In that same poll, Trump and Biden are shown to be a tight match-up, with Biden edging Trump out by just 1 point.