Thursday Briefing: Haley Drops Out

By John Mercury March 7, 2024

Nikki Haley exited the race for president, effectively handing the Republican nomination to Donald Trump. She pointedly declined to endorse him — instead saying he must earn the support of her voters.

The sequel of Biden vs. Trump — a contest many Americans had hoped to avoid — is now an inescapable reality.

Expect the electoral fight to be a bitter, brutal eight-month slog. Both candidates intend to make the race about their opponent, which means a pair of extremely negative campaigns. (Biden, 81, says Trump is a threat to democracy; Trump, 77, portrays Biden as elderly and unfit.)

Biden should be the favorite: He’s an incumbent running against the backdrop of a healthy enough economy, and his opponent is accused of multiple federal crimes. But Trump is leading in the polls. Yesterday, he was endorsed by Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican minority leader, who said Trump had earned “the requisite support of Republican voters.”

Tonight, Biden has a big chance to make his case for a second term: He will deliver his annual State of the Union address, which will be watched by one of his biggest audiences before the election in November.

Analysis: Haley’s withdrawal ends the latest struggle over the soul and direction of the Republican Party. Some had seen her as their last and best chance to move away from Trump.

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