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Donald Trump And Nikki Haley: A Palmetto State Proxy War

South Carolina’s first congressional district primary just became a key GOP barometer …

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The battle for the heart and soul of the “Republican” party is well-joined in early-voting South Carolina, where a pair of 2024 GOP presidential contenders have found themselves at odds in a contested partisan primary race.

As this news outlet exclusively reported last week, former U.S. president Donald Trump is planning to endorse former South Carolina state representative Katie Arrington in her yet-to-be-announced bid for the Palmetto State’s first congressional district against GOP incumbent Nancy Mace.

(Click to view)

(Via: FITSNews/ YouTube)

This week, Mace got her own endorsement from a potential 2024 presidential contender: Former South Carolina governor (and Trump’s first United Nations’ ambassador) Nikki Haley.

“Nancy Mace is a fighter who stands up to Biden’s reckless spending, punches back against lawless lockdowns and mandates and is strong on border security,” Haley tweeted. “That’s why I’m proud to endorse my congresswoman, Nancy Mace, for reelection.”

Haley’s endorsement was issued via her political action committee, Stand for America.

(Click to view)

(Via: Nikki Haley/ Twitter)

“Ambassador Haley is a great American,” Mace told reporter Schuyler Kropf of The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier. “And like she did as governor, I’m working hard every day for the people of South Carolina and the Lowcountry. Her friendship and support means the world to me.” 

The dueling endorsements set up a potential proxy war in South Carolina’s first congressional district – the only true “swing” district in the Palmetto State during the 2018 and 2020 election cycles.

Trump has wanted to see Mace defeated after she wrote him off following the mob violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

“Everything that he’s worked for … all of that – his entire legacy – was wiped out yesterday,” Mace said the day after the bloody rioting.

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Haley also aggressively rebuked Trump in the aftermath of the riots.

“I think he’s lost any sort of political viability he was going to have,” Haley said at the time, seeking to establish herself as a new standard-bearer for the party. “I don’t think he’s going to be in the picture. I don’t think he can. He’s fallen so far.

“He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him,” Haley added. “And we can’t let that ever happen again.”

Both Mace and Haley changed their tunes, however (here and here), when it became clear the GOP electorate was sticking with Trump.

Trump has ridiculed Haley for her hypocrisy, however he granted her an audience at his ritzy Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida last November.

No such forgiveness has been extended to Mace, however. Last November, in fact, Trump announced that Mace was one of the GOP lawmakers in Washington, D.C. he was targeting for defeat. That confirmed my prior coverage … which delved extensively into the origins of Trump’s disdain for his former South Carolina staffer.

“Saving America starts by saving the GOP from RINOs, sellouts, and known losers!” Trump said in a statement, calling on “America First Republican Patriots” to run primary campaigns against Mace and ten other members of congress.


Mace and Haley have history, too.

Mace was a part-owner of FITSNews for several years, however she sold her ownership stake in the company in 2013 prior to launching an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate against Lindsey Graham.

She has had no connection to the website since – although she and I have remained friends.

During her time with FITSNews, Mace had no involvement with its editorial direction.  Still, Haley held a grudge against the Lowcountry businesswoman for years owning to her former affiliation with me – which, of course, stems from the intimate relationship Haley and I had during the winter and spring of 2007 (which became a massive scandal three years later as Haley was closing in on the 2010 GOP gubernatorial nomination).

As I reported in 2013, Haley went out of her way to hurt Mace both politically and financially – attempting (successfully in some cases) to cost her work with her political consulting clients.

Mace reportedly requested a meeting with Haley in the governor’s office in the spring of 2013 in the hopes of burying the hatchet, but her entreaties were rebuffed by Haley. The meeting was held … but Haley was uninterested in Mace’s olive branch.

So the feud continued …

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Haley and Mace finally buried the hatchet in the summer of 2020, though – and Haley endorsed Mace in her 2020 general election bid against Democrat Joe Cunningham.

As I noted in Saturday’s “Week in Review” segment, Trump’s engagement in both the first and seventh congressional districts in South Carolina (the former president endorsed state representative Russell Fry in his bid against incumbent Tom Rice last week) could have significant 2024 repercussions.

“This matters because Trump may run for president again in 2024,” I noted in that segment. “And if he does that, he’s got to come through South Carolina, which holds the ‘First in the South’ presidential primary. How well Trump’s candidates perform in the 2022 election could have a significant impact on how well Trump himself performs when he comes before South Carolina voters.”

Indeed …

Haley is now standing in the way of Trump’s efforts to reshape the U.S. Congress, though, hoping to turn this congressional race into a referendum on their competing visions for the future of the party.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Via: FITSNews)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that Chicago Blackhawks’ lid pictured above).

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