In South Carolina, Haley and Trump Modified Their Tune

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As Nikki Haley stepped to the rostrum Saturday night time, the bravado she had embodied after shedding in New Hampshire a month earlier was gone. Her expression was somber and, for a second, she gave the impression to be edging towards withdrawing from the race for the Republican nomination.

“Our nation will disintegrate if we make the unsuitable decisions. This has by no means been about me or my political future. We have to beat Joe Biden in November,” she mentioned, as her viewers held its breath.

Lastly, she pivoted: “I don’t imagine Donald Trump can beat Joe Biden.”

It was a outstanding corrective from Jan. 23, when she spun her 43 p.c of New Hampshire’s vote from defeat right into a sort of victory and vowed to beat Mr. Trump in her residence state of South Carolina.

And although Ms. Haley equally resolved to remain within the race on Saturday, her fortitude now seemed extra like cussed grit and dedication than upbeat confidence.

Mr. Trump delivered his personal corrective on Saturday night time. In New Hampshire, his victory speech had displayed all of the grace and decorum of an expert wrestling present, right down to mocking Ms. Haley’s costume and taunting her over shedding. And he threatened that anybody who donated to her marketing campaign would henceforth be “completely barred from MAGA,” referring to his “Make America Nice Once more” motion as if it have been one in every of his personal golf golf equipment.

In Columbia, S.C., Mr. Trump didn’t even point out the title of Ms. Haley, his final main opponent — not precisely gracious, however not insulting both. As an alternative, he thanked his allies, coming closest to uttering an insult solely when he invited Senator Lindsey Graham to say a number of phrases by noting that he was “a bit of to the left” of the group, as his supporters booed their state’s senior senator.

At this level in his political profession, nobody would mistake Mr. Trump for a unifying pressure, however in Columbia, he appeared able to attempt to a minimum of unite the Republican Celebration behind his nomination. He didn’t denigrate Ms. Haley’s voters or threaten her political donors.

Ms. Haley was extra sensible about her exhibiting than she was within the Granite State. She mentioned she gained “round” 40 p.c of the vote, including that that was “about” what she obtained in New Hampshire. In that assertion, “about” was doing a number of work; 40 p.c will not be 43 p.c, and early within the marketing campaign for South Carolina, the tremendous PAC backing her had mentioned she wanted to exceed her exhibiting in New Hampshire to show she was making progress. She didn’t.

Nonetheless, Ms. Haley used her personal phrase, “onerous reality,” when she leveled along with her supporters — even when that onerous reality didn’t conclude along with her withdrawal from the presidential race.

“I’m an accountant. I do know 40 p.c will not be 50 p.c,” she instructed the group. “However I additionally know 40 p.c will not be some tiny group.”

“Immediately will not be the top of our story,” she concluded. That left loads of choices for tomorrow.