(Bloomberg) -- Nikki Haley vowed to stay in the Republican presidential contest, despite her loss to frontrunner Donald Trump in her home state.

The Associated Press called the race quickly for Trump, just moments after polls closed.

Heading into Saturday’s election, Haley trailed Trump by more than 23 percentage points, despite weeks of campaigning and millions spent on advertising in the state where she was born and served two terms as governor.

Her already longshot bid for the GOP nomination is in serious doubt, but Haley has said she will stay in the race until at least Super Tuesday on March 5, when more than a dozen states vote.

Haley Says She Will Stay in GOP Race (8:39 p.m. ET)

Haley told supporters that she aims to stay in the 2024 Republican presidential contest despite a decisive defeat in her home state. 

“I’m not giving up this fight when a majority of Americans disapprove of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden,” Haley said. “We can’t afford four more years of Biden’s failures or Trump’s lack of focus.”

Trump, Haley Voters Show Strong Split Over Election Denialism (7:55 p.m. ET)

Exit polls show a divide between Trump and Haley’s supporters within the Republican party over abortion, climate and national security.

Trump won among voters who support expanding fossil-fuel production, building a wall on the US-Mexico border and a nationwide abortion ban, according to the Associated Press VoteCast survey of 2,377 South Carolina Republican primary voters.

Haley won among voters who support continued funding for Ukraine in its war against Russia.

But perhaps no issue separated voters more than the 2020 election. Haley won handily among the 36% of Republican primary voters who said Biden won legitimately in 2020, while Trump dominated among the 61% who said Biden lost. — Gregory Korte

Graham Says RNC Should Help With Trump Legal Bills (7:33 p.m. ET)

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters at Trump’s watch party that the Republican National Committee should help pay for the former president’s legal bills.

“We want to help him pay his bills,” Graham said. 

Graham’s comments come as Henry Barbour, an RNC member from Mississippi, has sponsored two resolutions urging the group to remain neutral in the primary and to refuse to pay Trump’s legal bills. 

Trump is endorsing new leadership for the group, including Lara Trump, his daughter-in-law, as co-chair. She has said paying his legal bills is a “big interest” of GOP voters.

“I spent $1.2 million into the Fani Willis thing myself,” Graham said Saturday, referring to the Fulton County district attorney leading an election-interference prosecution of the former president.

Trump and allies are seeking to have that case dismissed over what they claim is a conflict of interest. — Hadriana Lowenkron and Stephanie Lai

Trump Floats Former Aide Conway for RNC (7:19 p.m. ET)

Trump suggested that he may tap former White House aide Kellyanne Conway for a role at the Republican National Committee.

“We may be putting Kellyanne in the group,” Trump said in his victory speech. 

The former president is endorsing North Carolina Republican Committee Chair Michael Whatley as RNC chair and his own daughter-in-law Lara Trump as co-chair to replace the organization’s current chair, Ronna McDaniel.

McDaniel is facing pressure to step down amid lackluster fundraising that lags behind Democrats. Trump has said changes would happen after the South Carolina primary. — Hadriana Lowenkron

State GOP Chair Urges Party to Unite Behind Trump (7:14 p.m. ET)

South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick urged the party to get behind Trump after the former president’s win.

“South Carolina is Trump Country again! It was true in 2016 and 2020, and South Carolina Republicans just put an exclamation point on it today,” McKissick said in a statement.

“His Promises Made, Promises Kept agenda is what strengthened our country before and can do it again,” he added. “If we want to grow our economy, close our Southern border and save our country from a radical leftist agenda, then we need to unite our party right now and put Donald Trump BACK in the White House this November.” — Gregory Korte

Trump Says Victory ‘Bigger’ Than He Expected (7:09 p.m. ET)

Trump took the stage minutes after the AP called the race for him, hailing the South Carolina result as an “even bigger win than we anticipated.”

The victory dealt a devastating blow to his last major challenger, Haley, and maintains his sweep of GOP 2024 nominating contests.

“I have never seen the Republican Party so unified as it is right now,” Trump said at his watch party to cheers.

Trump Wins South Carolina Primary (7:01 p.m. ET)

Trump cruised to victory Saturday in the South Carolina primary, which was called for the former president by the Associated Press just moments after polls closed at 7 p.m. 

Read more: Trump Continues March to Nomination With Win in South Carolina

Straw Poll Finds Ramaswamy, Noem Favorites for Trump Running Mate (6:39 p.m. ET)

Trump should tap Kristi Noem or Vivek Ramaswamy as his running mate ahead of a likely November rematch with President Joe Biden, according to attendees of the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Noem, the South Dakota governor, and Ramaswamy, an Ohio businessman who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination, tied with 15% support among attendees at the conference outside of Washington when asked in a straw poll who Trump should pick as his vice presidential candidate. 

Former Democratic US Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii was third at 9%, followed by US Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina and US Representative Elise Stefanik of New York at 8% each among a list of 17 potential candidates listed on the ballot. — Mark Niquette

Read more: Ramaswamy, Noem Top CPAC Straw Poll as Favorites for Trump VP

Haley Should Do Some ‘Soul Searching,’ GOP Chief Says (5:20 p.m. ET)

South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick said Haley should do some hard thinking about the future of her campaign if she loses her home state. 

“If after South Carolina you’re oh-and-four, and you’re looking at the rest of the calendar where President Trump has a 30- to 50-point lead in all these states — again, you have to do some soul-searching,” McKissick said Saturday. 

McKissick said his state has a “tradition of being the graveyard of presidential campaigns.”

“We are your last shot at a one-at-a-time state roller-coaster, where you can focus all your time, energy and fire on that one state. And then after here, you’ve got Super Tuesday, and if you don’t do well here, you don’t get that bounce. It hurts you going out nationally,” he said. — Gregory Korte

South Carolina Republican Voters Oppose More Ukraine Aid (5:11 p.m. ET)

Some 6 in 10 South Carolina Republican primary voters say they oppose continuing aid to Ukraine, according to AP VoteCast, a troubling sign for Haley. Similarly, 6 in 10 say they support Trump’s Make America Great Again movement.

Haley, a former UN ambassador, has been a staunch advocate of continued US support for Kyiv, a stance that puts her at odds with Trump and much of the GOP base which has embraced his isolationist views.

About half of South Carolina GOP voters say they want the US to take a less active role in solving the world’s problems, according to AP. Only about a third say America’s participation in NATO is “very good” with more saying it’s “somewhat good.”

Trump sparked alarm among US allies earlier this month for threatening to allow Russia to attack NATO allies who fail to meet defense-spending promises — remarks which Haley and President Joe Biden have denounced. — Gregory Korte

Trump Focuses on Biden Ahead of South Carolina Result (4:20 p.m. ET)

Trump focused on a general election rematch with Biden in a speech to conservative activists, even as South Carolina Republicans were casting their ballots.

Trump made virtually no mention of his primary opponent in his speech Saturday. Instead, he centered his address largely on Biden, repeatedly characterizing his political rival and successor’s White House tenure as a “nightmare.” Trump and his allies see the primary as effectively over, positioning him as the party’s presumptive 2024 nominee. 

“If crooked Joe Biden and his thugs win in 2024, the worst is yet to come,” Trump said in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference just outside Washington. “A vote for Trump is your ticket back to freedom. It’s your passport out of tyranny. And it’s your only escape from Joe Biden and his gang’s fast track to hell.”  — Mark Niquette

Read More: Trump Deepens Focus on Biden With Latest Haley Match Underway

Biden Prepares for Michigan Primary (3:27 p.m. ET)

Biden, who cruised to an easy win in the Democratic primary in South Carolina earlier this month, is looking ahead to his next contest in Michigan on Tuesday. 

The president joined Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Lavora Barnes, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, on a campaign organizing call. Biden also taped two radio interviews that will air Monday.

Biden faces a long-shot challenge from US Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota. But a greater threat might come from a campaign that critics of Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war have waged, urging Democrats to vote “uncommitted” in protest of his policies.

Anger over Biden’s Israel policy poses a threat to his reelection hopes. Michigan, a key battleground state, is home to a sizable population of Arab and Muslim American voters.  — Jennifer Jacobs

South Carolinian Likes Haley, Votes For Trump (1:15 p.m. ET)

Gloria Naufal voted for Trump at Satchel Ford Elementary School in Forest Acres. That’s the school her children attended and where she first met then-Governor Haley.

Naufal, 55, said she decided to support Trump over Haley because the former president is best positioned to beat Biden.

“I like Nikki Haley, she brought jobs into the country,” Naufal said, adding that she would vote for Trump even if he were convicted of a crime. — Stephanie Lai

High Turnout Where Haley Polls Best (12:52 p.m. ET)

One small-but-encouraging sign for Haley comes from votes already cast before the polls opened Saturday.

Statewide, more than 6% of South Carolina registered voters had cast an early or absentee ballot. But in the counties where Haley has polled higher — the Lowcountry coastal areas — participation is already as high as 12%.

Almost half of voters in the region support Haley, according to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll this week. — Gregory Korte

Haley Voters Contemplate Other Plans For General Election (12:40 p.m. ET)

Haley voters acknowledged that she may not be the Republican nominee and have already begun to plan what they might do in November.

Kerrilynne Thomas, 53, went to the polls in downtown Charleston to cast her vote for Haley, saying she liked her record as governor and intellect. But if it’s a Trump-Biden matchup in the fall, she said she wouldn’t vote — for the first time since she’s been eligible. Thomas said she voted for Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020.

Gail Yarborough, a Haley supporter from Charleston, said she would vote for Trump in the general election, since he will likely get the nomination. She has voted for him before, but said she dislikes his “trash talk.” — Hadriana Lowenkron and Alicia Diaz

Haley Calls Trump Race Remarks ‘Disgusting’ (11:55 a.m. ET)

Haley said Trump made offensive comments at a gala for Black conservatives Friday evening, where he played on racist tropes, claiming that his criminal indictments had bolstered his support among Black Americans. 

She cast Trump’s remarks as a hurdle for the party’s general election prospects. 

“It’s disgusting. But that’s what happens when he goes off the teleprompter,” Haley told reporters after casting her ballot in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. “This is a huge warning sign. We have to stop with the chaos. We have to stop with the drama. We have to stop with bad sound bites that keep happening over and over again.”

Trump also called Biden a “racist” whose policies have damaged the Black community. 

Haley said she will continue to run as long as there is appetite for her candidacy, adding that her team has mapped out a strategy through Super Tuesday on March 5 but “that’s as far as we’ve thought so far.” — Christian Hall

GOP Expects High Turnout in South Carolina (9:35 a.m. ET)

South Carolina Republican Chairman Drew McKissick said in an interview with Bloomberg News last month that he anticipated close to a million primary participants based on the state’s growing population and low turnout in the earlier Democratic primary.

That relatively high turnout expected to benefit Haley, who has sought to convince independents and other voters who might not cast ballots in a GOP primary to back her, in a bid to counter Trump’s dominance with conservatives.

Over 205,000 people have already cast a ballot in the Republican primary, according to data from the South Carolina Election Commission. — Stephanie Lai 

CPAC Attendees Await Trump (9:15 a.m. ET)

The final sessions of this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference in suburban Washington have started, with attendees waiting to hear Trump speak this afternoon before he heads to South Carolina.

CPAC attendees will take part in a straw poll, where they are being asked who they want to see as a Republican vice presidential candidate. Several contenders who are the center of speculation are speaking at this year’s conference, including South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem; Ohio businessman and former 2024 presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy and US Representative Elise Stefanik of New York.

The crowds are noticeably smaller at this year’s CPAC, and there are fewer information booths and media outlets broadcasting from the site. But the vendors hawking Trump-themed hats, tee-shirts and other merchandise are here. — Mark Niquette

Haley Dominates South Carolina Airwaves (9 a.m. ET)

Haley has dominated the airwaves for the last month, with her campaign and allied super political action committee combining to spend $11.3 million, compared to $844,000 for Trump, according to AdImpact, which tracks ad spending. 

Gray Television Inc. Chief Executive Officer Hilton H. Howell Jr. told analysts in an earnings call Friday that Haley’s advertising outlay — as well as spending projections for the general election — bode well for the television chain, which owns four stations in South Carolina and others in key swing states.

“We think it’s going to be a great season,” he said. — Bill Allison and Gregory Korte

Read more: Haley’s Last Stand? What to Watch in South Carolina Primary 

Trump Leads Among Most Voter Groups — Except College Grads (9 a.m. ET)

A breakdown by age, education level and gender shows that Trump has an edge with nearly every group of South Carolina voters.

Haley’s performs best among those with college degrees, a bloc that is shrinking among Republicans nationwide. — Gregory Korte

--With assistance from Stephanie Lai, Mark Niquette, Hadriana Lowenkron, Alicia Diaz and Christian Hall.

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