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Nikki Haley argues Trump not getting 40% of primary voters is clue he’d lose to Biden

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(GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.) — Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley keeps losing to Donald Trump by double digits but the fact that the former president has only managed to reach 60% of the vote in the contested races so far should be taken as a warning sign, Haley said on Monday.

“Donald Trump as, technically, the Republican incumbent did not win 40% of the vote,” she said in a gaggle with reporters while on the trail one day before Michigan’s Republican primary. “So, what you are looking at is something is shifting and this has been happening for a while.”

Haley was reiterating an argument she has been making more and more, including the previous night in Troy, Michigan: that even though she has yet to win a state in the race for the Republican presidential nomination and her path to catching Trump looks all but gone, a notable minority of conservative voters are signalling that they want someone other than Trump and they deserve an alternative.

“I know 40% is not 50%, but I also know 40% is not some tiny group,” she said on Saturday after losing her home state of South Carolina.

“In the next 10 days, another 21 states and territories will speak. They have the right to a real choice, not a Soviet-style election with only one candidate,” Haley said then. “And I have a duty to give them that choice. We can’t afford four more years of [President Joe] Biden’s failures or Trump’s lack of focus.”

In Michigan on Monday, Haley pointed to the struggles the GOP has had in winning key state races in recent cycles and blamed Trump.

“The party is completely divided. And that’s not just Michigan. We are seeing that all over the country that the Republican Party is fully divided,” she said.

“You can’t win a general election if you don’t acknowledge the 40% of Republicans who are saying we don’t want Donald Trump,” she said.

“I am giving you every red flag I possibly can about the direction that the country is going,” Haley told reporters. “Now I just need people to hear it. I need states that are voting to act on it. And I need to see that we can stop this sinking ship before it takes off.”

The highest vote share Trump has gotten in a contested nominating race in a state so far this year was in South Carolina, with 60%. (He got 74% in the U.S. Virgin Islands caucuses.)

But in the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries, Haley got at least 40%.

While she has vowed to stay in the race, Trump — who emerged from a much more bruising 2016 primary fight to win the White House that year — has increasingly focused on a likely general election rematch against Biden.

“There’s never been a spirit like this,” he said on Saturday after winning in South Carolina. “And I just want to say that. I have never seen the Republican Party so unified as it is right now.”

Asked on Monday if she could name a state she could win in the nominating race, Haley deflected, saying: “wait and see.”

“We have 21 states and territories that are getting ready to happen. Why don’t we wait and see what happens? We don’t have to have a crystal ball and say this is going to happen or that’s going to happen,” she said.

Haley has several fundraisers happening in the days before Super Tuesday on March 5. Asked if that’s a sign she’s planning to stay in the race beyond that day, she touted her fundraising numbers.

“I can tell you that we raised $1 million in 24 hours after the election in South Carolina, that we are continuing to see the dollars come in because Americans want to voice and we’re giving them that voice,” she said, “and as long as Americans want me to be that voice, I will continue to fight for them as long as we think that there is an option.”

Asked by ABC News if her voters would go to Biden or not vote at all in the general election if she is not the Republican nominee, Haley made a blunt prediction.

“I think that if I’m not an alternative in this race, I think that Donald Trump will lose. It’s that simple,” she said.

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