The Hindu (Mumbai)

Trump, Biden storm towards rematch as Haley drops out

She wins only Vermont out of the 15 States that went to the polls; Biden prepares for his State of Union address where he has to allay voter concerns over his age, economy and the war in Gaza


onald Trump marched on Wednesday towards a bitter rematch against U.S. President Joe Biden in November as his final Republican rival Nikki Haley thew in the towel after a thumping defeat in the “Super Tuesday” primaries.

Pointedly declining to endorse the man she has portrayed as chaotic and mentally incompeten­t, former UN Ambassador Haley said Mr. Trump would have to earn the support of moderates who backed her longshot campaign.

Her withdrawal leaves America facing a battle for the White House between two elderly men that many voters say they don’t want, with Mr. Trump brushing aside multiple criminal indictment­s and the scandal over his attempt to overthrow the 2020 election in his pursuit of a comeback.

“We must turn away from the darkness of hatred and division,” the 52yearold Ms. Haley said in Charleston in her home State of South Carolina. About Mr. Trump, she said only that “I wish him well” as he seeks a return to the world’s most powerful office. She also lamented the U.S. “retreat” on world is

DNikki Haley announces the suspension of her presidenti­al bid in South Carolina on Wednesday.

sues including Ukraine, as Mr. Trump and his hardright Republican allies block aid for Kyiv’s fight against the Russian invasion.

Mr. Biden meanwhile swept his Democratic “Super Tuesday” primaries but he must now gear up for Thursday’s State of the Union address, a defining moment as the unpopular 81yearold seeks to allay voter concerns over his age, the economy and the war in Gaza.

Both men swiftly made their pitch for Ms. Haley’s bloc of mainly affluent, moderate Republican voters.

After proclaimin­g that he had “TROUNCED” Ms. Haley, Mr. Trump invited them to “join the greatest movement in the history of our nation.” Mr. Biden hailed her courage for telling the “truth about

Trump” and said there was a place for her supporters in his campaign.

‘So conclusive’

This year’s Super Tuesday was sapped of suspense as Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump had effectivel­y secured their parties’ nomination­s before a ballot was cast.

Former President Mr. Trump, 77, swept 14 out of 15 States up for grabs on the biggest day of the 2024 race so far, with Ms. Haley denying him only in the northeaste­rn State of Vermont.

“They call it ‘Super Tuesday’ for a reason,” Mr. Trump told cheering supporters at his MaraLago beach club in Florida. “They tell me, the pundits and otherwise, that there has never been one like this, never been anything so conclusive.”

Impeached twice, beaten by seven million votes in 2020 and facing 91 felony charges in four trials, Mr. Trump has a profile unlike any U.S. presidenti­al election candidate in history.

He also finally received the backing of Senate Republican Minority leader Mitch McConnell, who had fallen out with Mr. Trump over his baseless claims to have won the 2020 election.

Warning signs

Mr. Biden meanwhile raced to clear wins — minus a loss in tiny Pacific Ocean territory American Samoa — and warned that Mr. Trump was “determined to destroy” U.S. democracy.

Mr. Biden is now expected to use his State of the Union speech in less than 48 hours to paint the election as a stark choice between himself and an existentia­l threat to the country.

But while the election is set to be a rematch, recent polls give Mr. Trump a narrow lead, unlike four years ago when Mr. Biden was largely ahead of the vote.

There are also warning signs from a protest vote over Mr. Biden’s support for Israel’s offensive on Gaza, with some voters filling out ballots saying “uncommitte­d” in Minnesota and other States.

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