What’s Subsequent for Nikki Haley?

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Dropping is rarely straightforward.

That may be forgotten within the rush of a presidential marketing campaign — the speeches, assaults, tv ads, endorsements and the ups-and-downs of polls. However the candidates are, ultimately, formidable women and men who’ve invested their egos and reputations in an enterprise that may outline their political lives.

Having to stop may be painful, an act of minor humiliation carried out on a public stage. Conversations about what comes subsequent — whether or not to slog it out in a race or take into consideration subsequent adventures — are troublesome. So it’s that candidates who’ve spent months working for president typically want a number of days to appreciate their campaigns are over.

Nikki Haley, the previous United Nations ambassador and former South Carolina governor, is going through her personal determination this morning after shedding to former President Donald J. Trump within the New Hampshire main. This was the race that she needed — a two-person face-off in a state the place independents are a key bloc and Republicans are extra reasonable than in Iowa. It’s arduous to place a great spin on it.

However Ms. Haley is simply 52 years outdated and there are nonetheless 5 months till Republicans collect in Milwaukee to appoint a presidential candidate. Right here are some things she may determine to do within the days forward:

The subsequent contested state on the Republican main calendar is Ms. Haley’s again yard — “my candy dwelling state,” she mentioned in Harmony on Tuesday night time, after New Hampshire was referred to as for Mr. Trump.

Ms. Haley mentioned the race was “removed from over” as she pledged to remain in it on Tuesday. She has invested appreciable time and promoting cash within the state the place she was born and gained two phrases as governor. However South Carolina has develop into Trump territory since she stepped down from that job to hitch his administration, and most polls present her heading for what could be a 3rd decisive loss. (Whereas she campaigns in South Carolina, Mr. Trump is prone to proceed consolidating his social gathering’s help. In early February, he’s anticipated to win the Nevada caucuses, a contest Ms. Haley is skipping.)

That makes South Carolina dangerous.

A defeat there could be each embarrassing and damaging to any hopes she has for a future marketing campaign for the White Home.

Alternatively, if she have been to win there, she would be capable to current it as a come-from-behind upset of Mr. Trump, and place her to combat in — effectively, maybe it’s higher we defer right here to a memo despatched out by her marketing campaign supervisor, Betsy Ankeny, on Tuesday.

“Regardless of the media narrative, there may be vital fertile floor for Nikki,” she wrote. Among the many states talked about: Virginia, Texas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota — effectively, you get the thought.

Ms. Haley has vowed to remain in, however after an evening of speaking to her advisers and supporters, she might reassess.

Candidates do rethink. The morning brings the ultimate election consequence, which may be sobering. Donors cease writing checks. Loyal supporters start to edge towards the exits.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida additionally mentioned he was staying within the race after h completed second in Iowa, trailing Mr. Trump by almost 30 factors. That lasted six days.

There are various sturdy arguments for Ms. Haley to hitch Mr. DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Chris Christie, to call a number of, who’ve suspended their campaigns. That begins with the maths of the caucuses: With all due respect to the memo Ms. Ankeny wrote earlier than the outcomes have been identified, it’s arduous to see any states on the horizon the place Ms. Haley might do what she has not but accomplished in 2024: Win.

Though Ms. Haley has stepped up her assaults on Mr. Trump over these previous months — most notably skewering his age and psychological acuity — stepping out now might spare her from incomes the longtime enmity of Trump supporters, or at the least Republicans who need to rally behind Mr. Trump and switch to the final election.

It additionally might set her as much as run once more in 2028. She would have time to rebuild and launch Haley 2.0.

“If I have been working for her, I’d exit and get wealthy, go away for some time, after which in 4 years present up with the best 18-minute commercial you’ve ever seen and light-weight up the social gathering,” mentioned Mike Murphy, a longtime Republican strategist.

The massive query: Would Ms. Haley be part of Mr. DeSantis in endorsing the person she has spent weeks criticizing?

Ms. Haley might decide to staying within the race for the lengthy haul, no matter what occurs in South Carolina, within the hopes that for some motive, by the point the Republican Nationwide Committee gathers in Milwaukee in July, Mr. Trump, who’s 77 years outdated and charged with 91 felonies, one way or the other finally ends up not being the nominee.

Ms. Haley could be the one declared candidate left within the race.

Sticking round wouldn’t earn her many associates in her social gathering, if it appears as if she is rooting for circumstances, be they Mr. Trump’s well being or the courts, to drive Mr. Trump off the ticket.

It could additionally imply — if Tuesday night time was any indication — that she could be on the market, persevering with to make the case towards Mr. Trump and, arguably, serving to President Biden within the course of.