In South Carolina, Nikki Haley and Tim Scott are appealing to the same donors and the same voters

“Are they splitting the vote? Yes, they certainly are,” said Katon Dawson, a former Republican Party chairman from South Carolina who supports Ms Haley. “Are they going to take it out on Donald Trump? I do not know yet.

Mr. Trump still holds a majority share of support among Republican voters in South Carolina. He did not attend Saturday’s event, although he was invited. Neither did Mr. DeSantis, who was also invited. Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, who is still considering a possible run for president and who attended the forum, told reporters on Saturday that the presence of Mr. Scott and Ms. Haley had created “a bit of a convoluted arena “.

Mr. Scott went on a week-long listening tour of the early primary states of Iowa and South Carolina. Outside of required engagements with constituents and donors, Scott has paid close attention to religious leaders and held a handful of listening sessions with pastors. Ms Haley, whose campaign has boasted of making nearly 20 campaign stops in the month she was a candidate, plans to travel to New Hampshire later in March.

Ms. Haley and Mr. Scott are two Republicans of color in a majority white party. Each has used the distinction to iron out Democratic criticism of systemic racism in America and to assert that the country remains a beacon of progress and opportunity.

“America is not racist, we are blessed,” Ms Haley said, a message she repeatedly underlined.

Mr. Dawson, the former President of the State The Republican Party, which backs Ms Haley, has offered another scenario. Instead of cannibalizing each other’s voters, Ms. Haley and Mr. Scott, he said, could consolidate their resources if one had to suspend his presidential candidacy to support the other. Such a move could bolster a candidate’s odds against a higher candidate, like Mr. Trump or Mr. DeSantis.

“You team these two up on something, you have a problem,” Mr Dawson said. “Because they love each other.”


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