Photo of Nikki Haley

Haley Campaign Press Release - The Detroit News: Nikki Haley blames Donald Trump for GOP losses, division in Michigan

February 26, 2024

By: Craig Mauger
Online here

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Sunday night that Michigan had once been a "beacon" for Republicans before the gains fell apart after Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016.

In an interview with The Detroit News, Haley said Trump, whom she's now challenging for the Republican presidential nomination, had left the Michigan GOP "completely divided." Republicans will continue to lose under Trump, because he talks "about these things that split our party instead of bringing our party together," Haley said.

Her comment about dividing the GOP was in response to a question about false claims from Trump and other Republicans that widespread fraud somehow caused him to lose the 2020 presidential election in Michigan to Democrat Joe Biden, who won by 3 percentage points or about 154,000 votes.

"As long as they keep saying that, Republicans will keep losing. Period," Haley said.

With Michigan's presidential primary two days away, Haley used repeated losses by Republicans in the era of Trump's dominance over the party as her closing argument with voters. It came one day after Trump defeated Haley 60%-40% in the primary election in her home state of South Carolina.

Haley rallied about 400 of her supporters in a ballroom inside the Detroit Marriott Troy on Sunday night, two days before Michigan's presidential primary election on Tuesday. Trump is the heavy favorite.

But Haley has focused on there being a segment of the Republican Party that won't vote for Trump in November. He can't win a general election, Haley contended in an interview Sunday.

Trump lost Michigan's 2020 presidential election to Biden by 154,000 votes or 3 percentage, 48%-51%.

"He wants to have the Republican Party be his own playpen," Haley told The News of Trump. "You can't have a playpen where you use campaign contributions to pay your personal court cases. You can't have a playpen where you go and you criticize your opponents' supporters."

"That's not the way you win a presidential election," she said. "It's not the way we win elections up and down the ticket."

The Trump campaign didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Amid Trump's criminal and civil legal troubles, the former president's Save America political action committee spent at least $54 million in 2023 for legal expenditures, amounting to 84% of the PAC's spending, The Associated Press reported Feb. 2. 'It all fell apart'

Haley said she visited Michigan after state GOP lawmakers and then-Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, approved a right-to-work policy in 2012 that barred businesses and unions from reaching agreements that required workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of their employment.

"You just saw all of these wins that were happening in Michigan," Haley said.

"It all fell apart since Donald Trump became president," she added.

Republicans have suffered a string of election losses in Michigan since Trump won the 2016 presidential contest.

Michigan Democrats have won two gubernatorial races, Biden was victorious in the 2020 presidential election in the state, and Democrats took full control of the Michigan Legislature for the first time in four decades in 2022, when Republicans lost a congressional seat in conservative west Michigan for the first time since Watergate in 1974. Democrats repealed the right-to-work law last year, among other major legislative victories that reversed policies passed under Snyder and legislative Republicans.

Victor DiRita of East Lansing was in the crowd for Haley's event Sunday night and said he plans to cast a ballot for her Tuesday.

"She's very moderate," DiRita said. "She's got good ideas. I think she's got the right priorities."

Former Rochester Hills Clerk Tina Barton was also in attendance. She labeled Haley a consistent conservative. Barton said she was tired of the "chaos" that's marked recent presidential administrations.

"I think it's time for a new age of leadership," Barton said.

Haley, 52, was South Carolina's governor before serving as Trump's ambassador to the United Nations.

Her crowd on Sunday night was much smaller than the one Trump drew to his rally in a Waterford Township airport hangar on Feb. 17. However, Haley said a majority of Americans simply dislike Trump.

"Do we really want to have a country in disarray and a world on fire and have our two candidates be in their 80s?" Haley asked of Biden and Trump.

Trump is 77. Biden is 81.

In her 30-minute Sunday speech, Haley said she disagreed with Trump's "isolationist" approach to foreign affairs.

"America can never be so arrogant to think that we don't need friends," she said.

Her biggest applause line came toward the end of her address when she talked about her time as the governor of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017.

"The tone at the top matters," Haley concluded as people in the crowd cheered.

Nikki Haley, Haley Campaign Press Release - The Detroit News: Nikki Haley blames Donald Trump for GOP losses, division in Michigan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives