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Haley hedges on whether she'd eventually endorse Trump as Republican nominee

"When you're in a race, you don't think about losing," she said.

March 3, 2024, 12:36 PM

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley hedged on Sunday on whether or not she would make good on her pledge to support the eventual Republican presidential nominee if she does not win the GOP primary over rival Donald Trump.

Haley signed the so-called loyalty pledge last year in order to participate in party debates. Trump, who did not debate, refused.

Since then, Haley has become increasingly critical of the former president and in an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday wouldn't definitively say whether or not she would endorse Trump if he wins the GOP nomination.

"If you talk about an endorsement, you're talking about a loss. I don't think like that. When you're in a race, you don't think about losing. You think about continuing to go forward. What I can tell you is: I don't think Donald Trump or Joe Biden should be president," Haley said on "Meet the Press" when asked if she'd support the former president.

When pressed by moderator Kristen Welker specifically on the pledge she signed, Haley suggested she signed the vow simply to make the debate stage and that the Republican National Committee, which is in the midst of a leadership change, isn't the same body it was when the promise was crafted.

"The RNC pledge -- I mean, at the time of the debate, we had to take it to where, 'Would you support the nominee?' And in order to get on that debate stage, you said 'yes.' The RNC is now not the same RNC," Haley said.

PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks at a campaign event in Needham, MA, Mar. 2, 2024.
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks at a campaign event in Needham, MA, Mar. 2, 2024.
Michael Dwyer/AP

"I think I'll make what decision I want to make," she said when asked if she felt she was still "bound" by her pledge.

"But that's not something I'm thinking about," she added, noting she plans on competing in multiple primaries being held this week on Super Tuesday.

"I don't look at what ifs," she said.

Trump has trounced Haley in every early primary so far and is expected to continue doing so, though she has argued that the notable minority she is winning -- more than 40% in some states -- shows many voters want a Trump alternative.

Polling indicates she's unlikely to win many, if any, primary states to come.

Haley has previously been bullish that she will stay in the race through Super Tuesday, though she has been more speculative about what's in store for her beyond that day.

While she has become more ambivalent about ultimately backing Trump if he wins the nomination, she wouldn't be the first Trump rival to harshly criticize him and then support his White House bid.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said during the 2016 Republican National Convention that conservatives should "vote your conscience" -- without endorsing Trump -- but then said later that year that he had changed his mind "after many months of careful consideration."