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Nikki Haley Vows to Stay in Presidential Race: ‘I Refuse to Quit’

3 minute read

With just four days until the South Carolina primary, Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley on Tuesday pushed back against those calling on her to suspend her campaign and pledged to stay in the race regardless of the outcome in her home state.

"South Carolina will vote on Saturday, but on Sunday I'll still be running for President," Haley said during a campaign speech in Greenville, S.C. "I'm not going anywhere."

"Dropping out would be the easy route," she added. "I'm not taking the easy route."

Haley's remarks come as polls show her trailing former President Donald Trump by a large margin in South Carolina, adding pressure to her campaign after key losses in Iowa and New Hampshire. A USA Today/Suffolk University poll released Tuesday showed Haley trailing Trump in the state by 28 points, while a Winthrop University survey showed her trailing by 36 points.

In her speech, Haley, the former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador during Trump’s presidency, compared her race against Trump to the biblical story of David and Goliath and rebutted the notion that she is vying for the vice presidency or laying the groundwork for a future presidential bid. “If I was running for a bogus reason, I would have dropped out a long time ago,” she said. “The rest of the fellas already did that… But I'm still here.”

Read More: Nikki Haley’s Slow Burn Was No Accident

In recent weeks, Haley has intensified her criticism of Trump as she seeks to woo Republican voters exhausted by the former President. On Tuesday, she highlighted his legal troubles as a major liability, called out his age and mental acuity, and predicted that he would ultimately lose in the November election if he’s the Republican nominee. “He's so obsessed with his own demons from the past,” Haley said. “He can't focus on delivering the future Americans deserve.”

Trump’s campaign released a memo ahead of her speech predicting that “the end is near for Nikki Haley” and calling her a “wailing loser hell-bent on an alternative reality and refusing to come to grips with her imminent political mortality.”

Haley slammed those in her own party calling her to drop out of the race, saying that they have “surrendered” to the “herd mentality” in politics. “Many of the same politicians who now publicly embrace Trump, privately dread him,” she said. “They know what a disaster he's been and will continue to be for our party. They're just too afraid to say it out loud. Well, I'm not afraid to say the hard truth out loud. I feel no need to kiss the ring. I have no fear of Trump's retribution."

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Write to Nik Popli at nik.popli@time.com