COLUMBIA, S.C. – Nikki Haley has been making the same argument for months — she would be a stronger Republican standard-bearer than former President Trump to take on President Biden in November’s general election.
Look at any of the general election polls. There was one that came out yesterday. It said that Donald Trump lost by seven points to Biden,” Haley told the crowd at a campaign event in Hilton Head, South Carolina, on Thursday. “I defeat Biden by up to 17 points.”
Now, the former two-term South Carolina governor who served as U.N. ambassador during the Trump administration is throwing more shade at her former boss.
Haley took to X to jab at Trump. She posted a photo of the former president in a mock Halloween costume titled “Weakest General Election Candidate Ever.”
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“Democrats are ecstatic about the prospect of running against Donald Trump,” Haley argued. “They couldn’t dream up a worse general election candidate if they tried. Between his legal drama, his terrible poll numbers, and his confusion, Trump will hand Democrats a big victory.”
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A couple of hours later, Trump went to his Truth Social platform to make the opposite case, spotlighting polls that indicated he would match up stronger than Haley against President Biden in the general election.
Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung brushed off the attack, charging in a statement that “Nikki Haley is a stone cold loser who is becoming more irrelevant by the day.”
Haley faces a steep uphill climb for the GOP nomination against Trump, who remains the commanding frontrunner in the Republican race as he makes his third straight run for the White House.
Trump won last month’s Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary — the first two contests in the GOP presidential nominating calendar — by double digits.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended his campaign two days before the New Hampshire primary, leaving Trump and Haley as the last two major candidates in a field that stood at nearly 15 contenders last August.
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The next major contest on the Republican schedule is Haley’s home state, which holds its GOP primary on Feb. 24. The latest public opinion survey in South Carolina — from Monmouth University and the Washington Post — indicated the former president has a formidable 26-point lead over Haley.
However, Haley, speaking with Fox News Digital on Thursday after a campaign event at a popular eatery in the Palmetto State’s capital city, reiterated her goalposts.
“It’s just about keeping that momentum going. We got 20% in Iowa. We got 43% in New Hampshire. Let’s bring it a little bit closer so that we can get closer in to him [Trump] and make it more competitive going into Super Tuesday,” she said.
Fifteen states will hold GOP presidential nominating contests on Super Tuesday, which this year will take place on March 5. Thirty-six percent of all Republican presidential delegates will be up for grabs in those primaries and caucuses.
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South Carolina voters surveyed in the Monmouth/Washington Post polls said they believe Trump has a greater chance than Haley of defeating President Biden in November. Forty-two percent said they believe Trump could definitely beat Biden in the general election. Only 21% of South Carolina Republicans said Haley could definitely beat Biden.
“Trump’s electability is a concern for some primary voters. It’s just that this group is nowhere near large enough to put Haley in striking distance of the front-runner,” Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a statement.
Longtime Republican pollster Neil Newhouse told Fox News that “Republican primary voters don’t vote on who they think has the best chance to beat Biden… Republican primary voters vote on policy and personality, not on electability.”
Newhouse, a veteran of multiple GOP presidential campaigns, argued that spotlighting electability is “generally the last dying cry of a moderate Republican who is getting ready to lose.”
Fox News’ James Levinson contributed to this report.
Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.