Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley leaves the stage
Nikki Haley ended her presidential campaign on Wednesday. Tony Gutierrez/AP

Nikki Haley’s Only Endorsers in Congress Are Split Over What to Do Now

“I already made clear that I do not support either President Trump nor President Biden for reelection, so I’m not sure where that would leave me,” Sen. Susan Collins said.

Nikki Haley’s decision to end her presidential campaign Wednesday morning leaves her few supporters in Congress in a bit of a bind.

Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina and Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins were the only ones to back Haley, with the senators only endorsing her last week. In interviews this week, they were split on what they’ll do now.

“I already made clear that I do not support either President Trump nor President Biden for reelection, so I’m not sure where that would leave me,” Collins told NOTUS soon before polls closed on Super Tuesday.

Murkowski said she was “probably” still going to vote for Haley in November, suggesting she’d be open to writing her name down on the ballot. When asked what she thought Haley voters should do if she dropped out, Murkowski — who previously admitted that she did not vote for Trump in 2020 — said Tuesday night that she hoped “they still vote for her.”

In her speech announcing she was suspending her campaign, Haley did not endorse Trump, even though she had previously signed the Republican National Committee’s loyalty pledge saying she would back whoever won the GOP nomination. Instead, she encouraged Trump to earn the support of Republican and independent voters who backed her.

“In all likelihood Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee when our party convention meets in July. I congratulate and wish him well,” Haley said Wednesday morning. “It is now up to Donald Trump to earn the votes of those in our party and beyond it who did not support him, and I hope he does that.”

And shortly after her speech, Trump mocked Haley, saying on Truth Social that she got “TROUNCED” on Super Tuesday and made an initial call for her voters to join him.

“I’d like to thank my family, friends, and the Great Republican Party for helping me to produce, by far, the most successful Super Tuesday in HISTORY, and would further like to invite all of the Haley supporters to join the greatest movement in the history of our Nation,” he said.

Norman, the only House Republican to back Haley and a member of the House Freedom Caucus, is taking the Trump path.

He announced his endorsement for the former South Carolina governor over a year ago, saying that Republicans needed “new leadership” (Norman has rarely criticized Trump but has suggested that he is too old to be president). Now, though, Norman told NOTUS he’d “100%” vote for Trump in November with Haley out of the race, citing his disapproval of Biden.

“We’re losing this country,” Norman said Tuesday night. “I’d vote for Humpty Dumpty over Joe Biden with what he’s done to the country.”

Norman said Wednesday morning that he hopes Haley supports Trump.

Some Republicans and conservatives worry that Haley’s struggles against Trump will officially mark the end of Reagan-style conservatism as the former president’s “America First” nationalist agenda takes over the GOP. Other candidates who ran as traditional conservatives, like former Vice President Mike Pence, barely made an imprint on the presidential race.

Collins and Murkowski stand nearly alone among their GOP colleagues in the Senate, most of whom have already lined up behind Trump. The two were among the seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump in his impeachment trial after the Jan. 6 attack. Even some Republican senators who questioned whether the former president has a chance to win in November amid his legal troubles are still planning to vote for him in the fall, including Sens. John Cornyn and John Thune — both of whom are running for Senate GOP leader.

Oriana González is a reporter at NOTUS. Claire Heddles, a NOTUS reporter and an Allbritton Journalism Institute fellow, contributed reporting.