Haley pushes back at Trump suggestion she’ll drop out after NH primary: ‘I don’t do what he tells me to do’

HAMPTON, N.H. – Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley says she does not take orders from former President Trump.

“I don’t do what he tells me to do,” Haley, a former two-term South Carolina governor who later served as U.N. ambassador in the Trump administration, told Fox News and other news organizations as she took questions from reporters outside a polling station in a coastal New Hampshire town on Tuesday morning.

Trump entered Tuesday’s GOP presidential primary in New Hampshire holding a formidable double-digit lead over Haley in the final public opinion polls, and the former president was aiming for another convincing victory after crushing Haley and Florida Gov. DeSantis a week ago in Iowa’s low-turnout presidential caucuses. 

NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY SHOWDOWN: CAN HALEY SLOW DOWN TRUMP’S PUSH FOR THE GOP PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION ?

Former U.N. ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican presidential candidate, shakes hands with a voter outside a polling station on Primary Day in Hampton, New Hampshire, on Jan. 23, 2024. (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser)

DeSantis, who was a distant third in the surveys in New Hampshire, dropped out of the race on Sunday and endorsed Trump.

HALEY PLEDGES ‘I’M IN THIS FOR THE LONG HAUL’ IN RACE AGAINST TRUMP

At a rally on primary eve in Laconia, the former president noted that “we started off with 13 [GOP White House candidates] and now we’re down to two people.”

“And I think one person will be gone probably tomorrow,” he predicted, as he pointed toward Haley.

Republican presidential candidate former President Trump speaks during a campaign event in Laconia, New Hampshire, Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Pushing back against questions from reporters on what percentage of the vote she needs in New Hampshire to continue on to South Carolina – her home state that holds the next major GOP presidential nominating contest on Feb. 24 – Haley said, “We’ll know strong when the numbers come in. It’s not like a certain number. I don’t go there and say, Oh, I have to have this number. I have to have that number.”

“And I’m not going to talk about an obituary just because y’all think we have to talk about it,” she told reporters. “I’m going to talk about running the tape and saving this country, I think we have to do it. I’m a fighter. I work hard. And I do it because I love this country. And we’re gonna go and fight until the very last poll closes. And then we’re headed to my sweet state of South Carolina. And we’re gonna make the case there as well.”

HALEY REVEALS HER PITCH TO DESANTIS SUPPORTERS

Campaign manager Betsy Ankney told reporters on Saturday that Haley will hold a large event in her hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday, the same day that the campaign will launch a $4 million statewide ad blitz.

The campaign also told Fox News on Tuesday morning that they have hauled in $1.5 million in fundraising since DeSantis suspended his campaign on Sunday afternoon.

“We’re going to South Carolina, we have put in the ad buy. We’re there,” Haley emphasized on Tuesday. “This has always been a marathon. It’s never been a sprint. We wanted to be strong in Iowa. We want to be stronger than that in New Hampshire. We’re gonna be even stronger than that in South Carolina. We’re running the tape.”

It is the latest instance that Haley has spotlighted the durability of her campaign.

Haley said in a Fox News Digital interview on Sunday evening that she would “absolutely” continue on to South Carolina regardless of her finish in New Hampshire.

Additionally, Haley argued in a separate Fox News interview with Martha MacCallum on Monday on “The Story” that “the political and media elite say everybody needs to coalesce around Donald Trump…We don’t believe in coronations in this country. We believe in democracy. I’m in this for the long haul.” 

Trump predicted another major win on Tuesday, telling supporters at a rally in Rochester, New Hampshire, on Sunday night, “I think we’re going to have the same kind of result here as we did last week in Iowa.”

DOWN AND OUT: WHAT WENT WRONG WITH THE DESANTIS CAMPAIGN

However, New Hampshire — where independent voters who make up roughly 40% of the electorate can vote in either major party’s contest and have long played an influential role in the state’s storied presidential primary — may be fertile ground for Haley.

The latest surveys indicate Trump dominating among registered Republicans, with Haley grabbing majority support among independents. However, there are likely more Republicans than independents who will vote in Tuesday’s GOP primary.

Haley and Sununu at a polling station on primary day in New Hampshire

Former U.N. ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican presidential candidate, second from left, and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, second from right, visit a polling station on Primary Day in New Hampshire, on Jan. 23, 2024 in Hampton, New Hampshire. (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser )

Moderating temperatures on Tuesday could help what is already forecast as a record voter turnout.

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Republican Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, Haley’s top surrogate and adviser in the state, told Fox News that “the Secretary of State has predicted a record turnout. So I think it’d be hard to ask for more than that.”

However, he spotlighted that “the number of folks that are saying, ‘Hey, I’ve never voted in a primary before, but I’m coming out.’ That’s a great sign. And that’s not just a great sign in terms of what Nikki can do. It’s a great sign for New Hampshire. It’s a great sign of voter involvement. Everyone wants to get engaged.”

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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