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Haley vows to stay in race ‘as long as we’re competitive’; says No Labels isn’t tenable for her

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(WASHINGTON) — Former Gov. Nikki Haley on Friday morning reiterated her promise to stay in the presidential primary race through Super Tuesday and said running as an independent on the third-party presidential movement No Labels ticket wouldn’t work for her.

Haley — who has recently lost to former President Donald Trump in primaries in Michigan and her home state of South Carolina — told reporters that she has raised $12 million just in February to fuel her bid through Super Tuesday. But she hinted that decisions beyond Tuesday will be based on whether she’s still “competitive” in primaries and caucuses, while not defining exactly what that would look like.

“My approach has always been, as long as we’re competitive,” Haley said. “Super Tuesday we’re going to try to be competitive. I hope we go forward. But this is all about how competitive we can be.”

“As long as you’ve got 70 percent of Americans saying they want something different [than President Joe Biden and Trump], we’re going to give them something different.”

She again deflected on whether she would drop out after Tuesday or run as an independent on a No Labels ticket. She again pointed out that she has had no contact with No Labels, and that the group’s stated vow to have a unity ticket with a Republican presidential candidate and a Democratic vice presidential candidate would not appeal to her.

“I haven’t talked to anybody about that. I know that they have sent like smoke signals that they want me to talk about that. But I’m a Republican,” she said. “If I were to do No Labels, that would require a Democrat vice president. I can’t do what I want to do as president with a Democrat vice president.”

She also pointedly would not commit to staying in the race beyond Super Tuesday.

“I don’t have an answer for you. I can say we’re going to go forward,” she said.

Haley wouldn’t put any thresholds on what vote share she needs to get in states, but said “30 to 40 percent is not a small number.”

Asked about how her campaign would wind down, she said, “I don’t know that I’m ending my bid for president. If you’re in a race, the last thing you think about is not being in the race.”

Asked specifically about trying to contest the Republican National Convention, Haley deflected: “The focus now, again, I’m just going to keep saying, it’s Super Tuesday… I know y’all love to think about that. That is not something I’m thinking about.”

More broadly, she rejected the idea that she’s leading an “anti-Trump movement,” instead casting her campaign as an effort to elevate issues around national security, fiscal discipline, security and safety, parents and their kids, and the climate of “anger and hatred” that she says Trump has been a big part of.

“In all the narratives, everybody pretty much assumes that this is an anti-Trump movement. And it’s actually not. This is a movement where people want to be heard,” Haley said. “These crowds are not anti-Trump crowds. These crowds are about people who want to see America and feel good about again.”

“They want something new, they want something different, they want something to be hopeful about,” she said. “I get why Democrats are leaving the Democrat Party, because of how far left they’ve gone, and I get why Republicans are leaving the Republican Party. Because we were just always about small government and freedom — economic freedom and personal freedom.”

She also complained repeatedly about media coverage of the race, suggesting that Trump’s controversial comments (about Black people most recently) have not gotten as much attention or follow-up as some of her unfortunate moments (like her comments on the Civil War).

“If I can be candid, the reason it hasn’t resonated is because all of you have made this race about Trump,” she said. “I’m trying to make it about policy, with the Republican Party.”

She said there should have been more outrage in the media about Trump’s takeover of the Republican National Committee, where he plans to install his daughter-in-law as a co-chair.

“Like, where is everybody?” Haley asked. “This is not normal. None of this is normal.”

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