LAS VEGAS – After sweeping Nevada’s GOP presidential caucus, former President Donald Trump has his eyes on the next major contest on the 2024 Republican nominating calendar – South Carolina.
“Is there anyway we can call the election,” a buoyant Trump asked as he pointed to his large double-digit lead in the latest polls in South Carolina.
The Nevada caucus victory by the former president, who is the commanding front-runner for the GOP nomination as he makes his third straight White House run, was never in doubt. Trump was the only major candidate in a contest run by a friendly state party in which only registered Republicans could vote.
Trump’s convincing win in Nevada – where 26 delegates were at stake – came hours after he won a landslide victory in a presidential caucus run by the U.S. Virgin Islands GOP.
And Thursday’s caucus in Nevada also came two days after he was a winner in Nevada’s state-run Republican presidential primary, even though he wasn’t on the ballot.-
Trump’s absence from the primary ballot wasn’t enough to provide a path to victory for Nikki Haley, the former president’s last remaining major rival for the 2024 Republican nomination.
The former two-term South Carolina governor who later served as U.N. ambassador in the Trump administration lost on Tuesday to a “none of these candidates” option by a more than two-to-one margin in a primary where no GOP convention delegates were at stake.
Voters casting ballots in the primary couldn’t write in Trump’s name, but they could vote for “none of these candidates.” And Trump supporters Fox News interviewed outside of polling stations said that is how they voted.
“So I’d like to congratulate none of the above,” Trump said on Thursday night s he mocked Haley. “I was one of them.”
Haley, who hadn’t campaigned in Nevada since October, downplayed this week’s primary and caucus in the Silver State, saying in a Fox News Digital interview in Los Angeles on Wednesday that they weren’t “anything we were looking at” and charging that the caucus was “rigged” for Trump.
Trump won a majority of the vote in the Jan. 15 Iowa caucuses, and he topped Haley by 11 points a week later in the New Hampshire primary, when the nomination battle turned into a two-candidate race.
Haley, facing calls from some Republicans to end her White House bid, told supporters in California this week that “I’m in this for the long haul.”
South Carolina’s primary is next up, on Feb. 24, and Trump’s returning to the state this weekend for the first time in two months.
The latest public opinion polls in the Palmetto State indicate Trump holds a very formidable double-digit lead. And the former president enjoys the backing of the state’s governor, nearly the entire congressional delegation, and scores of state lawmakers and local officials.
Veteran South Carolina based Republican consultant Dave Wilson pointed to Trump’ “groundswell” in the state and highlighted the former president’s “ground forces.”
Wilson also noted that “Nikki Haley is reintroducing herself to South Carolina” because “almost a million people have moved into the statae since she was governor.”
But pointing to her undefeated electoral record, Wilson said “never underestimate Nikki Haley. Never count Nikki Haley out.”
Haley, looking ahead, reiterated that “our focus is on South Carolina, Michigan, Super Tuesday.”
Michigan holds its primary on Tuesday, Feb. 27, three days after the South Carolina Republican primary. Fifteen states, including the behemoths of California and Texas, hold contests a week later, on Super Tuesday.
Haley’s two campaign stops on Wednesday in California were her first to date in any of the Super Tuesday states. And the swing to the Golden State appears in part to be a marker for Haley as she pushes back against calls by some Republicans to drop out of the race and give up her uphill climb for the nomination.
The trip also included a series of fundraisers. And as Fox News Digital first reported on Wednesday, Haley hauled in $1.7 million in fundraising during her two days in California.
Haley told Fox News Digital that when it comes to campaign finances, “we have been smart.”
And she touted that you don’t end up being “the last one standing against Donald Trump if you don’t manage your money well. So yes, we are focused on making sure we have the resources.”