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Trump wins tight New Hampshire primary, Haley vows to continue

MANCHESTER, N.H. — In a surprisingly close New Hampshire Republican primary on Tuesday, Donald Trump defeated Nikki Haley to take one step closer to the Republican nomination for president, while Haley remained determined to stay in the race ahead of more primary elections in the coming weeks.

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks to supporters during a primary election watch party in Concord, New Hampshire. Haley came in second in the New Hampshire Republican primary on Tuesday to former President Donald Trump. MOLLY POTTER/ DFP PHOTOGRAPHER

Haley, the 52-year-old former governor of South Carolina and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, vowed she would not drop out of the race, despite Trump’s victory. When polls closed statewide at 8 p.m., the Associated Press immediately announced that Trump had won. 

Trump is seeking to become only the second president in history to serve non-consecutive terms as he battles four criminal indictments and a civil lawsuit, according to the AP. If elected, he would be 78 years old on inauguration day in 2025. 

“We have no choice,” Trump said in a speech to his supporters Tuesday night in Nashua, “If we don’t win, I think our country is finished.”

Trump held a more than 20% lead in most polls heading into election day, but a strong turnout for Haley led to a Trump victory by about 12%, defying many expectations set upon a challenger to the former president. 

“Our fight is not over,” Haley told a room full of her supporters in Concord on Tuesday night. “We have a country to save.”

Haley’s home state of South Carolina will hold their Republican primary on Feb. 24, where she hopes to gain support from the voters she used to govern. Haley remains the only major Republican candidate challenging Trump, after candidates Vivek Ramaswamy and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently suspended their respective campaigns. 

Haley remained steadfast at her chance to defeat Trump in New Hampshire throughout the week, making final pitches to voters and levying hard-balls at Trump in a last-ditch effort to win the state.  

Mike Hess, an IT consultant who lives in Waterville Valley, supported Haley’s campaign due to her “positive energy.”

“I really hope she stays in this as long as she can,” Hess said. “Throughout all the primaries, people need choices in this country and there’s really no choice on the Democratic side.”

Ted Kurtin, a registered Independent living in Londonderry, voted for Haley on Tuesday after being a self-entitled “Republican in exile” when he abandoned hope for Trump, though he voted for him in previous elections. 

“After Trump’s comment on McCain’s military record, that’s when I started thinking I had the wrong guy,” Kurtin said. “We need to see a new generation takeover … these guys [Trump and Biden] have made a mess of it.”

Former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a primary election victory party on Tuesday in Nashua, New Hampshire. Trump’s decisive win over Haley in the New Hampshire Republican primary reaffirms the likelihood of a Trump-Biden rematch in November. PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHAEL DIMAGGIO-LISASA (COM ‘25)

Trump’s supporters had their own reasons for flocking to the polls, many of which have been longtime loyalists, including Trevor Cardin, whose parents own two small businesses that he said were better off when Trump was president.

“I think he’s the right choice for 2024,” Cardin said. “He did a great job with the economy in his previous four years as president. He was able to lock down the border, and he did a ton for the communities, including small businesses.”

Jordan Dunne, a 27-year-old Republican in Bradford, said Trump will “clean up what’s been happening in the last four years.”

“[Biden] completely destroyed this country from top to bottom,” Dunne said. “I could touch on ten different subjects … borders are wide open… gas prices are what, $3.50 right now? That’s just terrible, terrible stuff.” 

Trump’s all-but-certain challenger in November’s general election is current President Joe Biden, who is already the oldest president in history and will be 82 years old on inauguration day if re-elected. Biden, although not officially listed on the ballot, won the Democratic primary Tuesday evening through write-in ballots.

On stage at the Concord conference center, Haley highlighted both Biden and Trump’s age and mental competencies, calling a Trump nomination “a Biden win and a Kamala Harris presidency.”

“The first party to retire its 80-year-old candidate is going to be the party that wins this election,” Haley said. “I think it should be the Republicans.”

After watching Haley lose on Tuesday night, supporters at her rally still swelled with hope. 

Pamela Valentine, who spends her time volunteering for political campaigns, said she’s seen a lot of candidates in her years of campaigning. 

“Nikki might be the one,” Valentine said. “[She] has just proven herself [and] she comports herself well. I would be proud of her if she was the president.”

“I’m gonna follow her all the way,” said Kurtin. 

But despite Haley’s hopes for a longer race, and an eventual upset, a Trump win in New Hampshire undoubtedly increases his chances at the Republican nomination.

“We have to do what’s good for our party,” Trump said to supporters calling on Haley to drop out, adding how Haley gave “a speech like she won” in both Iowa last week and New Hampshire on Tuesday. 

“She didn’t win,” Trump said. “She lost.”

“No person is the panacea … we’re off the rails right now. We’re not even on the rails,” said Steven Paul, who’s voted for Trump since 2016. “I do feel confident he can get this country back in the right direction. Nobody’s perfect, but I’m a huge supporter of him.”


Nathan Metcalf, Karyna Cheung, Nicole Abrams and Gia Shin contributed to the reporting of this article.


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One Comment

  1. With democrats allowed and incoraged to vore against Trump in this Republican primary,Trump still won by TWELVE percent. This is “surprisingly close”. Haley should drop out before the South Carolina primary where she will be soundly defeated.