Mark Sanford Explains Why Haley Is Failing In South Carolina

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South Carolina once had a conservative governor who many assumed would be president someday. No, it wasn’t Nikki Haley, but her predecessor, Mark Sanford. 

Sanford threw away his chance at the White House when he “disappeared” one day while having an affair, but he soon returned as a member of Congress and has long been an outspoken critic of Trump. 

Politico recently spoke to the former South Carolina governor to ask him why Nikki Haley has yet to really gain traction in her home state, and the answers were surprising. 

Sanford offered a pretty revealing assessment of Haley’s problems in her home state. Politico asked, “Why is the state political establishment almost universally aligned against her? How much of that is about Trump, and how much of that is about Haley herself?”  

“Probably a 60-40 split. Most of it is Trump. People see that if that’s the train leaving the station, then that’s the one that they want in on. The name of the game for most people in politics is staying in the game. And therefore, they’re going to tend toward the candidacy that they perceive to be the winning one versus not.

I’m not blaming her, but many around the state would argue she hasn’t kept in touch or maintained the relationships that people like in the world of politics. It’s telling that somebody like Mikee Johnson, who grew up not that far from Nikki, a longtime personal friend, who ran both of her inaugurals, ended up being finance chair for Tim Scott. How in the world does that happen?

Look at the people that were raising money for Tim — the political infrastructure of our state shifted from Nikki over to Tim. I think a variety of things contributed to that. But I’d call it relationship management 101.”

What would it take for Haley to catch up to the former president before South Carolinians go to the poll? The former governor was blunt: 

“A meteor strike.

I’m not out there, I’m not actively involved in politics. I just hear from people because many of my friends were in that world and still are. I’m not seeing movement. I’ll tell you what could change: Trump beating Trump, which he’s perfectly capable of. The fact that after the New Hampshire primary, they just teed off on Haley. Are you kidding me? Politics 101 would say you don’t even acknowledge her. You say, “I’m so grateful to the folks in the state who reflected what happened just a little while ago in Iowa, and now it’s on to the general election.” You go bash on Biden some and move on. It was so weird.”

Recent polling has shown the former president up over 30 percent against Haley in the Palmetto State. The Hill reported, “In the Winthrop University survey, 64.9 percent of likely South Carolina primary voters say they are more likely to support Trump, compared to 28.7 percent who said they would back the former governor.

Haley’s favorability in her home state has also declined in recent months, as she has emerged as the last major candidate challenging Trump in the GOP primary.

In the survey, 56 percent of registered Palmetto State voters had a favorable view of Haley, down from 75 percent in November 2023. Her unfavorable rating, by the same token, has increased — at 33 percent in February 2024, up from 16 percent in November.”

South Carolinians will head to the polls later in the month.

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