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Nikki Haley rallies in Minnesota after losing primary in home state

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Nikki Haley rallies in Minnesota after losing primary in home state

Feb 26, 2024 | 10:57 pm ET
By Michelle Griffith
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Nikki Haley rallies in Minnesota after losing primary in home state
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Nikki Haley spoke to a crowd of her supporters at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington on Feb. 26, 2024. Photo by Michelle Griffith/Minnesota Reformer.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley sought to buck reality with a campaign stop in Bloomington on Monday night in an attempt to rally her Minnesota supporters before Super Tuesday.  

Former President Donald Trump defeated the former United States ambassador to the United Nations in her home state by roughly 20 points on Saturday.

Still, Haley fights on. She drew a crowd of hundreds of supporters and said that she’s continuing to stay in the primary race because she wants to restore a sense of “normal” to politics. 

“It’s not normal for Joe Biden to be letting in millions of illegal immigrants and not doing anything to stop them. It’s not normal for Joe Biden to have these wars around the world because he’s putting his head in the sand,” Haley said. “But it’s not normal for Donald Trump to be siding with a dictator over our allies. It’s not normal for him to be spending all these millions of dollars in campaign contributions on his personal court cases … Our kids deserve to know what normal feels like.”

Haley spent much of her 40-minute speech talking about immigration, the federal debt, America’s military and veterans — including her husband who is currently deployed overseas.  Trump’s scandals, she said, will cause the country more turmoil if he is reelected.

“I voted for Donald Trump twice. I was proud to serve America in his administration. That’s not what this is about. This is about the fact that chaos follows in everything he does,” said Haley, who was Trump’s United Nations ambassador. 

Despite Haley’s remarks about how she was the best presidential candidate — which garnered cheers from her supporters — her messaging doesn’t appear to be influencing Minnesotans, according to recent polling. 

FiveThirtyEight recently projected that Trump will beat Haley in Minnesota by over 40 points. Politico on Sunday reported that Haley hasn’t committed to staying in the race beyond March 5.

Still, Haley came here because Minnesota offers the type of suburban, less Trumpist Republican voters that she needs to defeat the Trump machine. In 2016, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who was ideologically similar to Haley, won the Minnesota GOP caucus, ahead of Donald Trump by 15 percentage points.   

Haley made the case that electing her as president would cause a Republican wave to wash across congressional and state races too.

Rep. Kristin Robbins, R-Maple Grove, introduced Haley to the crowd and argued that Minnesota has a “strong anti-establishment streak,” so Haley has a good chance of winning the GOP nomination on Super Tuesday in Minnesota, March 5. 

“In 2012, we voted for Rick Santorum over Mitt Romney. In 2016, we voted for Marco Rubio over Ted Cruz and President Trump,” Robbins said. “So Nikki is giving voters a choice. Does our party want to look back? Or do we want to look to the future? If we want to win and unite our country around a positive vision for America, Nikki is the best candidate who can do that.”

Former U.S. Sen. Rudy Boschwitz attended the Monday rally and endorsed Haley, saying she is tough and can bring the country together. 

Haley is traveling across the country in the coming days, with campaign stops in Colorado, Massachusetts and Utah.

Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips, who is in his own long-shot primary race for the Democratic presidential nomination, recently floated the idea that he and Haley could run on a joint “unity ticket.” Haley flatly rejected the idea during a weekend interview. 

During Haley’s remarks on immigration at the Southern border, at least four protesters were escorted out of the room for shouting during her speech, including one person who called her a racist. 

She encouraged her supporters to remain calm about the outbursts. 

“Don’t get upset when you hear a protester like that. And the reason is my husband and every member of the military sacrifice every day for (their) right to do that,” Haley said.