Mindy Ellmer (R), a member of the Women for Nikki coalition, energizes the crowd as Nikki Haley’s campaign bus pulls up in front of the Newberry Opera House in Newberry, S.C., on Saturday morning. Photo by Yiqing Wang/Medill News Service
NEWBERRY, S.C., Feb. 10 (UPI) — Nikki Haley supporters gathered outside the historic Newberry Opera House on Saturday morning clad in pink feather boas and beaded necklaces and holding “Pick Nikki” signs.
There, she made the first of four stops this weekend in her “Beast of the Southeast” bus tour leading up to the state’s presidential primary Feb. 24.
Haley is the last Republican candidate to battle former president Donald Trump for the party’s nomination. While many people consider a Trump nomination a foregone conclusion, Haley and her supporters still hold out hope that she’ll somehow win the state.
Having seen losses for her in Iowa, New Hampshire and even Nevada, Haley’s campaign has not slowed down, nor have her supporters.
“After New Hampshire, we hosted two events in Texas. And between Monday and Thursday, our RSVP numbers went up instead of down,” Mindy Ellmer of Austin, Texas, said as she walked around distributing boas and beads to fellow female Haley supporters.
As a member of the Women for Haley coalition, Ellmer has traveled to various campaign events throughout the early primary states. Despite the candidate’s back-to-back losses, she believed Haley is only getting started.
“People are tired of what they’re hearing from the politicians that we have now. And I think this is it. If anybody can do it, in any place, it’s Nikki Haley — here in South Carolina,” Ellmer said.
Steve Wilson, a member of the Newberry Republican Party, was one of those South Carolinians who recognized Haley as a candidate who could offer a change.
“I think she would be able to bridge that link between partisan politics and doing things that are right for the country, not what’s right for the party,” Wilson said.
Haley optimistically greeted some 100 supporters gathered Saturday and highlighted a week of failures by her own party. Like many there, she confirmed that she too voted for Trump four years ago. But times have changed, she said.
“We can’t go through four more years of chaos,” Haley said. “Look at what happened a few days ago. Donald Trump lost immunity. Republicans lost a vote on the border. Republicans lost a vote on Israel. Republicans fired their party chair.
“And basically, you look at that and Donald Trump had his fingers on all of that.”
Haley fiercely attacked Biden’s mental competency, repeatedly saying that he is “diminished” and referencing a report released Monday by special counsel Robert K. Hur that determined Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified documents after his vice presidency.
Hur, however, said that “no criminal charges are warranted.”
“America can do better than two 80-year-olds for president. We need to wake up to that. We’ve got a country in disarray and a world on fire,” Haley said.
While speaking with reporters, Haley referred to another set of numbers, too: polling numbers. But not hers.
“Seventy percent of Americans have said they don’t want a Trump-Biden rematch. The majority of Americans disapprove of Joe Biden. The majority of Americans disapprove of Trump. That’s a fact,” Haley said.
Haley’s power to attract in her home state was overwhelmed across the state in Conway, where a seemingly endless stream of backers filed into Coastal Carolina University to catch a glimpse of Donald Trump.
While passing by the nearly 2-hour-long line, one attendee remarked it reminded him of Disney World.
The latest polling numbers from a Monmouth University-Washington Post Poll show that 58% of potential Republican primary voters in South Carolina support Trump, while 32% support Haley.