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The Right Resistance: Nikki Haley counting on a meteor shower to rescue her in South Carolina

“A meteor strike,” replied former South Carolina governor, congressman and forgotten 2020 Republican presidential race contender (at least for a little while) Mark Sanford, when asked what it would take for 2024 upstart establishment candidate Nikki Haley to make up

the chasm-like polling deficit between herself and frontrunner Donald Trump between now and Saturday’s South Carolina Republican primary.


Sanford was contacted by left-of-center establishment publication Politico for his views on Haley and the current state of South Carolina politics, a topic he should, theoretically, know quite a bit about since he, like Nikki herself, was once considered one of the state’s most prominent and up-and-coming conservative politicians.


The now 63-year-old native Palmetto State-r first came to Congress as part of the famous “Gingrich Revolution” freshman class in 1995 where he quickly garnered a reputation for being a take-no-prisoners-type legislator seemingly laser focused on taming the excesses in the federal budget, which earned him enough notoriety to make him a prime candidate for governor. Sanford quit the House of Representatives after three terms and ran for – and won – the seat in 2002.


From that point, reaching back in memory here, Sanford earned a reputation for fiscal prudence by consistently advocating for governmental discipline, which drew praise from budget hawks and common-sense folks alike. Upon working to reject funding from the bloated Obama “stimulus” of 2009 (which he was subsequently rebuked by the state’s Supreme Court), the promising leader kind of fell off the proverbial reservation.


Or disappeared – literally – from the earth, having gone missing for a period of time whereupon the establishment media slime machine went into hyperdrive searching for him. I personally remember seeing much of the coverage, which seemed surreal to contemplate how a governor of an American state could simply vanish without a trace.


Of course, Sanford reemerged from isolation armed with a crazy tale about how he’d fallen in love with his “soulmate”, a married Argentinian woman – and was leaving his wife and sons. This was the stuff of cheap romance novels. And it basically ended Sanford’s political rise, though he did “recover” enough to be elected to Congress a few years later.


American voters can be very forgiving – and forgetful. How many pols have benefited from the electorate’s frequent situational cases of amnesia?


At any rate, Sanford’s comments on Haley are particularly relevant at this time, since the days are counting down to when South Carolina’s votes will be counted, and Donald Trump enjoys his fourth smashing state victory in a row. Will it be Haley’s end? It should be, but no one tells Nikki what to do, since she’s still got money in her coffers and the boisterous backing of the dwindled Never Trump contingent.


In an article titled “Why Is Nikki Haley Struggling in South Carolina? ‘Relationship Management 101’”, Charlie Mahtesian shared Sanford’s views on Haley – and other topics -- at Politico:


“Sanford also knows what it’s like to tangle with Donald Trump. After a self-described ‘hermitage phase,’ he made an improbable comeback and won a 2013 special election to the U.S. House, marking his second stint in Congress. He later emerged as a frequent Trump critic, going so far as to call out the ‘cult of personality’ surrounding the former president. Sanford’s refusal to bend the knee caught up to him in 2018, when he was defeated in a GOP primary by a pro-Trump challenger — his only loss at the ballot box in three decades of running for office.


“At this point, Sanford doesn’t see much hope for Haley against Trump. It would take ‘a meteor strike’ for her to win, he says. Other than that, Sanford figures, her best chance is if Trump self-destructs and defeats himself, ‘which he’s perfectly capable of.’”


Lots of people keep predicting that Trump will eventually self-destruct, but there’s never been an indication from the career real estate developer-turned first-time politician-turned president of the United States that any such implosion is imminent. These folks can keep waiting for it, but you can’t help thinking it’s about as likely to happen as the Great Pumpkin rising from the sincerest of pumpkin patches on Halloween evening.


One thing that appeared evident from Sanford’s thoughts expressed during his interview was that no one really likes Nikki Haley in South Carolina. Sure, she has her political opponents and must have a fairly large stable of professional friends in the southern state, but it’s odd that few, including Sanford and South Carolina’s current governor as well as Senator Tim Scott, emerged to give a full-throated endorsement to the former chief executive and Trump U.N. Ambassador.


Sanford, as hinted at in the article’s title, suggested Haley’s lack of success this year was due in part to poor “relationship management” on behalf of the 2024 hopeful in addition to the fact that she’s been out of politics for a decent while. But after having spent a year on the campaign circuit, it’s become obvious that Nikki is kind of, for a lack of a better way to put it – off-putting in a “rhymes with rich” kind of way.


This label is a stigma that, perhaps unfairly, follows many female candidates, but just as senile president Joe Biden isn’t the kind of man that a regular guy would want to have a beer with, who would crave to sit next to Haley at a dinner party? She reminds me of a female boss I once had whom everybody tried earnestly to avoid at the company Christmas party, the phony/happy empty soul who repelled everyone except for those seeking her favor.


The term “kiss butt” comes to mind for the co-workers who actually said they liked her. But that’s only personal experience, right?


Haley’s based her campaign on the airy notion of “a new generation of leaders”, but beyond being decades younger than both Trump and Biden, what else does her age connotate? Was she insinuating all along that she was smarter than Trump (and Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy and Tim Scott, etc.), or was she simply just a woman who was running in a field full of men?


As to why some notable Republican politicians are now in Trump’s corner after big-time personal battles with him in the past, Sanford speculated, “It’s a monument to people’s desire to remain relevant in politics. I don’t even know how you look yourself in the mirror when Trump’s said the things he said about Marco Rubio, and then you go endorse the guy? Or Ted Cruz, after what he said about his wife? I mean, it’s awful stuff. And you’re going to go endorse the guy? It’s a monument to the degree to which people will do most anything that they perceive to be in their best interests politically, never mind the look-yourself-in-the-mirror phenomenon.


“But it’s also a reminder of how strong Trump’s lock is on the base. I mean, it’s real.”


Yes, it is real. And it’s also a commentary as to why the Never Trump phenomenon will never succeed as long as Trump remains active in Republican politics. In 2016, Cruz demonstrated that Trump could be defeated, sometimes, on a more localized level, but the MAGA phenomenon went far beyond mere differences in policy or personality.


Or geography. That’s because Trump’s entire candidacy was based on national issues that were intended to be attention-getters. And his focus was on upsetting the political status quo, including the higher-ups of the Republican Party. There’s always been an unwritten rule about tempering or watering down criticism of one’s intra-party opponents, but, perhaps because he was an “outsider”, Trump never felt beholden to anyone or anything in the GOP.


His opponents quickly learned that no one could compete with Trump in a strictly punch-by-punch political cage match. The more his haters punched at him – and the harder he hit back – the more the people followed him. The grassroots loved Trump in spite of his privileged background and wealth because he always knew where the real public relations value lay – with the voters themselves.


That’s why the ceaseless media reports of Trump being mean to employees or staffers didn’t carry much weight with the people. Trump was charming and relatable to the attendees at his rallies while always remembering to point out the media booths as the enemy. Would similar appeals from Nikki Haley have been as effective?


Sanford explained Trump’s sway this way: “[Trump] has become a proxy for breaking the system, breaking the established way of doing things that has not worked for them and those they love. That’s powerful stuff when you become a proxy for some much bigger need or want of the voters.”


Is there anything inherently wrong with this? Trump merely articulates what’s on everyone’s mind. When Mitch McConnell says Ukraine is the most important issue of our times, does anyone nod in agreement? Or when senile Joe Biden blubbers some line that an activist lobbyist wrote for him about the dangers of “climate change”, do people across the nation whisper under their breath, “He’s right”?


Barack Obama ran his presidential campaign on the notion of “Hope and Change”, but it was Trump who came to office bent on making good on the concept. The changes voters sought were from the system itself and didn’t involve government raining goodies or cultural erosion on them. That’s the difference between Trump and the typical DC politician from both parties.


Nikki Haley, on the other hand, never discovered a “niche” in the new populist/conservative Republican Party. She can talk reform and a “new generation” of leaders, but what did any of it mean? The only thing she had to go on was not being Donald Trump. It didn’t work.


Mark Sanford is right (this time) by saying it would take a meteor strike to stop Trump in South Carolina at this stage of the campaign. Nikki Haley must have figured being a favorite daughter would give her a special place in the hearts of her state’s voters, but conservatives in 2024 demand substance and a credible fighting spirit from their leaders. And that’s Donald Trump.

  • Joe Biden economy

  • inflation

  • Biden cognitive decline

  • gas prices,

  • Nancy Pelosi

  • Biden senile

  • January 6 Committee

  • Liz Cheney

  • Build Back Better

  • Joe Manchin

  • RINOs

  • Marjorie Taylor Green

  • Kevin McCarthy

  • Mitch McConnell

  • 2022 elections

  • Donald Trump

  • 2024 presidential election

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1 Comment

Just today, Haley has a fund raiser text out asking if every 75 year old politician should be administered a cognitive test. My response would be "no", but I refuse to send money. My question is, why 75? If cognitive tests are needed, they can be administered to people of any age who display cognitive challenges. It's apparent to any observer that Biden shows serious signs of cognitive impairment. The same cannot be said about Trump. Age has nothing to do with it. Nikki is just grasping at straws.

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