Donald Trump claims fourth straight primary win in South Carolina, as he marches towards Republican nomination

25 February 2024, 07:36 | Updated: 25 February 2024, 07:40

Donald Trump
Donald Trump. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

Donald Trump has moved one step closer to getting the Republican nomination for its candidate at the 2024 US presidential election after he won the South Carolina primary vote.

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Mr Trump, who was president between 2016 and 2020, defeated Nikki Haley, his closest challenger, in her home state, collecting 59.8% of the vote to her 39.5%.

He has won every contest so far for the Republican nomination, after previous victories in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and the US Virgin Islands.

His latest win piled the pressure onto Ms Haley to drop out of the race, making an election rematch between Mr Trump and President Joe Biden increasingly inevitable.

But Ms Haley, the former South Carolina governor, said she would not be dropping out, despite the overwhelming odds against her.

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Nikki Haley was defeated again in South Carolina
Nikki Haley was defeated again in South Carolina. Picture: Getty

She accused Mr Trump, who is 77 and faces four indictments, of not being as mentally sharp as he had been, and said he was distracted.

But the former president was bullish after polls closed in South Carolina.

"I have never seen the Republican Party so unified as it is right now," he said.

"You can celebrate for about 15 minutes, but then we have to get back to work."

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Ms Haley was unable to dent Mr Trump's momentum in her home state, despite holding far more campaign events and arguing that the indictments against the former president will hinder his challenge for the White House.

She has vowed to stay in the race through at least the batch of primaries on March 5, known as Super Tuesday.

Ms Haley said following her latest defeat. "I'm a woman of my word," she said.

"I'm not giving up this fight when a majority of Americans disapprove of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden."

The presidential election is on November 5. Mr Trump and Mr Biden are already behaving like they expect to face off against each other.

Mr Trump and his allies argue Mr Biden has made the US weaker and point to the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and Russia's decision to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Trump has also repeatedly attacked Mr Biden over high inflation earlier in the president's term and his handling of record-high migrant crossings at the US-Mexico border.

Mr Trump has questioned, often in harshly personal terms, whether the 81-year-old Mr Biden is too old to serve a second term.

Mr Biden's team in turn has highlighted the 77-year-old Mr Trump's own gaffes on the campaign trail.

Mr Biden has stepped up his recent fundraising trips around the country and increasingly attacked Mr Trump directly.

He has called Mr Trump and his Make America Great Again movement dire threats to the nation's founding principles, and the president's re-election campaign has lately focused most of its attention on Mr Trump suggesting he would use the first day of a second presidency as a dictator and that he would tell Russia to attack Nato allies who fail to keep up with defence spending obligations mandated by the alliance.