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HomeWorldNikki Haley Concedes as Trump, Biden win big in primaries

Nikki Haley Concedes as Trump, Biden win big in primaries

Former U.S. President Donald Trump won majorly on ‘Super Tuesday’ , the largest day of nominating contests for the Presidency, emerging well ahead of former UN Ambassador and Trump Cabinet member Nikki Haley, who bowed out of the race, but did not endorse her Republican rival and former boss.

On the Democrat side, U.S. President Joe Biden swept all 15 voting States (tying for first place in American Samoa), making it all but certain that the U.S. would see a Biden-Trump showdown in the November general elections. Mr. Biden had 1,497 of 1,968 delegates needed to win the nomination. He has faced mostly nominal opposition in some States from self-help author Marianne Williamson and U.S. Congressman from Minnesota, Dean Phillips.

“They call it Super Tuesday for a reason. This is a big one,” Mr. Trump said during a victory speech at his Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago. The former President, who is faced with 91 charges across several criminal and civil cases, emerged with 92% of delegates awarded on Tuesday, giving him a total of 995 delegates, more than ten times his opponent’s, who had 89 delegates at the end of Tuesday night. He did not mention Ms. Haley in his speech but said in a statement that Ms. Haley “got trounced”.

Mr. Trump, who is running on his nativist ‘MAGA’ (Make America Great Again) platform, suggested on Tuesday night that the Russia-Ukraine war and the current conflict between Israel and Gaza, would not have happened on his watch. He also criticised the lack of border security at the U.S.-Mexico border. Mr. Trump, who has been known to threaten his political opponents, said on Tuesday that politics was being weaponised.

“We are a third-world country at our borders, and we are a third-world country at our elections,” Mr. Trump said as he criticised the political establishment and the press.

Quoting former Conservative British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Ms. Haley indicated she would not as per usual practice necessarily endorse Mr. Trump. A total of 1,215 delegates must be won for a candidate to win the Republican nomination — a number that Mr. Trump is likely to achieve when more States vote on next Tuesday.

“Our world is on fire because of America’s retreat. Standing by our allies in Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan is a moral imperative,” she said at a concession speech in Charleston, South Carolina, a State she was once Governor of. She also highlighted the level of government spending. Of late, Ms. Haley, an accountant by training, had said Mr. Trump bore a significant amount of responsibility the national debt level. Ms. Haley won Vermont on Tuesday, losing everywhere else.

Born into a Sikh family of immigrants from Amritsar, Ms. Haley did not make use of all the opportunities available to her to engage the Indian diaspora during the primary season.

Praksash Kopparapu, a Democrat, who chairs the Indo American-IA PAC (Political Action Committee) in Iowa, said his bi-partisan organisation was unsuccesful when it tried to get the Haley campaign to set up a diaspora community meeting for her in Iowa in January, before the State’s caucuses.

“It’s pretty disappointing,” Mr. Kopparapu told The Hindu over the phone, adding “She had a very good opportunity in Iowa.”

While Mr. Trump swept the internal GOP contest on Tuesday, the outcome of a Biden vs Trump rematch very much remains open. Exit polls indicated that Mr. Trump’s electoral weaknesses in 2020 continue as his performance was weaker in cities, suburban areas and college towns.

An NBC News exit poll in North Carolina indicated that Ms. Haley also had a 2:1 lead among moderate voters. At least some moderates could gravitate towards Mr. Biden in the general election. Mr. Trump had said in January that anyone who had contributed to Ms. Haley’s campaign would be “barred from the MAGA camp”. On Wednesday morning, Mr. Biden, whose campaign has a record $117 million in cash, invited Haley donors to support him.

Mr. Biden faces significant non-financial issues: a dissatisfied base and voter apathy. The 81-year old incumbent faces questions about his age, perceptions over his handling of the economy relative to Mr. Trump’s, and anger over his support to Israel over its attacks on Gaza. Americans’ support for Israel has fallen since October 7, when Hamas attacked Israel and took hostages, leading to Israel’s retaliatory attack and mass slaughter of more than 30,000 Palestinians. 63% of Democrats, as per an AP-NORC poll from early February, felt Israel “had gone too far” in its response. More than 1,00,000 primary voters in Michigan cast an ‘uncommitted’ vote to protest Mr. Biden’s stance on Israel.

“Tonight’s results leave the American people with a clear choice: Are we going to keep moving forward or will we allow Donald Trump to drag us backwards into the chaos, division, and darkness that defined his term in office” Mr. Biden said in a statement following Tuesday’s results.

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