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What kind of future does Nikki Haley have in a Donald Trump dominated Republican Party?

Nikki Haley made it clear when she exited the Republican presidential nomination race earlier this week that she intends to keep speaking out.

‘While I will no longer be a candidate, I will not stop using my voice for the things I believe in,’ Haley emphasized as she announced on Wednesday that she was suspending her White House campaign after former President Donald Trump swept 14 of 15 GOP nominating contests on Super Tuesday.

Haley also made clear this week that a third-party run on a potential No Labels presidential ticket was not in the cards.

‘What I will tell you is I’m a conservative Republican. I have said many, many times, I would not run as an independent. I would not run as No Labels because I am a Republican, and that’s who I’ve always been,’ she reiterated in a ‘Fox and Friends’ interview.

But how much of a voice she has among Republicans and what kind of future she has in the GOP depends very much on Trump, who has dominated the party since he first won the White House eight years ago.

The former two-term South Carolina governor who later served as U.N. ambassador in the Trump administration 13 months ago became the first major candidate to challenge Trump for the 2024 nomination. And before she dropped out, she was the last rival standing.

Haley, who had turned up the volume on the former president over the past six weeks, refused to endorse Trump as she bowed out of the race.

And Haley, who captured a quarter to over a third of the vote in a handful of the Republican contests after scoring 43% in New Hampshire’s late January primary, highlighted that ‘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.’

‘At its best, politics is about bringing people into your cause, not turning them away. And our conservative cause badly needs more people. This is now his time for choosing,’ Haley said.

Haley’s support in the primaries spotlighted Trump’s weakness among moderates and suburban voters. But even before she finished her speech on Wednesday, Trump made it clear he wasn’t extending an olive branch to his former rival.

‘Nikki Haley got TROUNCED last night, in record setting fashion,’ Trump wrote in a social media posting as he trashed her.

Haley has a big decision to make in the days or weeks ahead – does she hold out against Trump – or endorse the former president.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu – a vocal GOP Trump critic who endorsed Haley and was one of her top surrogates – on Friday in a handful of interviews endorsed the former president but said he stood by his past criticism.

Much of Haley’s fate going forward rests with Trump, who on Friday installed top allies to run the Republican National Committee.

‘She needs to step back and take stock of where things stand and pay attention to what President Trump says and does,’ longtime GOP strategist David Kochel told Fox News.

Kochel, a veteran of numerous Republican presidential campaigns, said that a lot will depend on November’s presidential election results.

Haley repeatedly argued on the campaign trail that a Republican Party with Trump at the top of the ticket was headed for trouble in November and that she would be a more effective standard-bearer to take on President Biden.

Koch said that ‘if Trump loses in November, Haley’s going to be proven right,’ but that conversely, a victory by the former president would likely spell trouble for Haley’s GOP future.

Haley in many ways ran as a Reagan Republican – from promoting a muscular foreign policy to advocating fiscal restraint – in a party Trump and his populist America First movement has transformed.

That transformation of the GOP – as well as her vocal criticism of Trump – could make any future Haley White House run extremely complicated.

‘Haley is a conservative from the old mold,’ longtime Republican strategist and communicator Ryan Williams said. ‘The party continues to drift further to the right and even if Trump isn’t a candidate in the future, you’ll see more candidates in the mold of Trump running for national office.’

Williams predicted ‘that leaves Nikki Haley in a position that’s on the outskirts of where the party’s headed….It indicates she may not have a future as a national candidate in the Republican Party.’ 

Kochel agreed that ‘the party isn’t going back.’

‘It’s definitely a different party. It’s more populist .. It’s more anti-establishment and anti-elite,’ he said. ‘But i don’t think we know yet what the party’s going to look like.’

And Kochel emphasized that ‘Trump is unique. I don’t think there can be another Trump.’

He said the party may once again take a sharp turn.

‘If you can go from Mitt Romney [the senator from Utah and 2012 GOP presidential nominee] to Donald Trump in four years, you can go from Donald Trump to something very different,’ Kochel argued.

This post appeared first on FOX NEWS

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