Nikki Haley holds donor retreat in South Carolina, not expected to endorse Trump


(WASHINGTON) — Nikki Haley will meet with roughly 100 of her biggest donors who supported her campaign for the Republican presidential nomination this week, taking another step toward reemerging back into public life following her defeat at the hands of her chief rival, former President Donald Trump, sources familiar with the event confirmed to ABC News.

The retreat, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, will take place on Monday and Tuesday in Charleston, South Carolina, not far from Haley’s home in the state’s low country.

Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, is still not expected to endorse her former ally, now the presumptive Republican nominee, at the meetings or to ask donors to give to other campaigns. Rather, the event is being billed as an opportunity for Haley to thank her backers for their support throughout her own campaign.

The decision not to endorse Trump has been one that has loomed large over her public persona, fueling speculation as to what the former South Carolina governor’s next steps may be.

Telling supporters on the day she dropped out that it was now up to Trump “to earn the votes of those in our party, and beyond it, who did not support him,” the move made Haley an outlier in her class of 2024 GOP candidates. Many of the Republicans who once challenged Trump for the nomination quickly fell into line behind him after exiting the race.

But while Haley has maintained a comparatively low profile since dropping out more than two months ago, she has continued to rack up hundreds of thousands of votes in state Republican primaries — most recently garnering more than 120,000 votes in Indiana, about 22% of the vote.

Overall, Haley has won nearly 4 million votes to date, roughly 20% of the total votes cast thus far.

Haley’s name was briefly floated as a potential vice-presidential contender for Trump on Saturday following a report from Axios that appeared to confirm she was in the running — a rumor Trump and his campaign quickly rebuked.

“Nikki Haley is not under consideration for the V.P. slot, but I wish her well,” Trump posted on his social media platform shortly after the rumor surfaced.

But what lies ahead politically for her in a party now dominated by Trump remains unclear.

Last month, Haley was tapped to chair the conservative Hudson Institute think tank. In a statement announcing the appointment, Haley said she would make it her mission to “defend the principles that make America the greatest country in the world.”

In recent weeks, she has begun actively posting again on social media, criticizing President Joe Biden’s handling of Israel’s war in Gaza and blasting on-campus college protests expressing solidarity with civilians in Gaza — but no mention of Trump or his campaign to defeat Biden.

In the final days of her campaign, Haley painted the stakes of the GOP primary in increasingly starker terms, telling the Wall Street Journal in late February that nominating Trump to lead the Republican ticket would be like “suicide for our country” and at other times called him “not qualified” following disparaging remarks Trump made about her husband’s military service record.

Despite no longer being a candidate, Haley maintained a healthy campaign war chest through the end — closing out her candidacy with $7.8 million cash on hand in her principal campaign committee and another $11.7 million in her joint fundraising committee, according to records filed with the FEC. Haley’s leadership PAC also reported having about $3.4 million in the bank in April.

She is now eligible to convert that money into a new political Super PAC or could transfer it to an existing network of PACs she already created, though she has not yet signaled how — if at all — those funds could be used in the coming months.

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