As America turns its attention to another round of primaries on June 14, all eyes are going to be on the battle of the endorsements between Nikki Haley and Donald Trump.
The 2 Republicans are on opposite sides of a hard-fought GOP primary in South Carolina with Haley backing incumbent Rep. Nancy Mace and Trump going all-in on Katie Arrington in Tuesday’s primary.
Haley-backed Rep. Nancy Mace, a freshman congresswoman who blamed Trump for the Jan. 6 Capitol riot is now facing Trump-endorsed opponent, Katie Arrington, a former state lawmaker, and the daughter of a CIA operative.
Trump endorsed Arrington on February 9, 2022, and provided the following statement:
“Katie Arrington is running against an absolutely terrible candidate, Congresswoman Nancy Mace, whose remarks and attitude have been devastating for her community, and not at all representative of the Republican Party to which she has been very disloyal. Katie Arrington, on the other hand, is liked and respected and a true Republican. Her automobile accident a number of years ago was devasting, and made it very difficult for her to campaign after having won the primary against another terrible candidate, “Mr. Argentinia.” Katie is strong on the MIlitary, our great Vets, Law Enforcement, the Border, and will fight very hard for our under-siege Second Amendment and Lower Taxes. Katie is a wonderful woman and has my Complete and Total Endorsement!
Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley seems to be welcoming the fight as she’s prepared to defend her home state and is most likely taking steps to distinguish herself from the former president who, like her, is weighing a 2024 bid.
“Nikki doesn’t mind picking a fight. She never has,” said Katon Dawson, a former South Carolina Republican Party chairman. “She calculates fights, and I think Nikki wanted to make sure Nancy got reelected, and I think there’s a good chance that’s going to happen.”
According to Politico, Haley’s assistance to Mace has been particularly extensive. The former ambassador narrated an entire commercial for Mace, in which she describes the congresswoman as “tough as nails.” In March, Haley held a Charleston fundraiser for the candidate that netted more than $300,000. Haley is clearly going all in for the win and according to political bystanders has gone above and beyond to ensure she wins.
“Nikki has certainly delivered on her promise to help Nancy in a way you don’t always see politicians endorse other candidates,” said Rob Godfrey, a former top Haley adviser.
After roasting Trump following the Capitol riot, Haley has since softened her posture toward the former president. She has said she will not run in 2024 if Trump does.
Trump advisers, however, are more confident in their prospects of ousting Rep. Tom Rice, another South Carolina Republican who, unlike Mace, voted to impeach the ex-president. While Mace has the benefit of running in an increasingly urban and upscale district that is trending more moderate, Rice has the burden of competing in the more conservative northeastern corner of the state. While Trump won Mace’s district by only 6 points in the 2020 election, he won Rice’s by 18 points.
“It’s a race that Nancy will win,” said former Rep. Mark Sanford, who preceded Haley as governor. “Although Trump still has a very strong hold in rural America, and decidedly Republican areas,” Mace’s district “is not that.”