Nikki Haley ends White House bid, clearing path for a Trump-Biden rematch

Nikki Haley ends White House bid, clearing path for a Trump-Biden rematch
Republican presidential candidate and former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley greets supporters at a campaign event in Portland, Maine. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 06 March 2024
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Nikki Haley ends White House bid, clearing path for a Trump-Biden rematch

Nikki Haley ends White House bid, clearing path for a Trump-Biden rematch
  • Haley was Trump’s first significant rival when she jumped into the race in February 2023
  • She spent the final phase of her campaign aggressively warning the GOP against embracing Trump

NEW YORK: Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley will suspend her presidential campaign on Wednesday, according to a source familiar with her plans, ensuring that Donald Trump will win the Republican nomination and once again face Democratic President Joe Biden in November’s election.
Haley will give a speech at 10 a.m. local time to address her future in the race, the source said, but she will not be giving an endorsement.
Haley lasted longer than any other Republican challenger to Trump but never posed a serious threat to the former president, whose iron grip on the party’s base remains firm despite his multiple criminal indictments.
The rematch between Trump, 77, and Biden, 81 — the first repeat US presidential contest since 1956 — is one that few Americans want. Opinion polls show both Biden and Trump have low approval ratings among voters.
The election promises to be deeply divisive in a country already riven by political polarization. Biden has cast Trump as an existential danger to democratic principles, while Trump has sought to re-litigate his false claims that he won in 2020.
Haley, 52, had drawn support from deep-pocketed donors intent on stopping Trump from winning a third consecutive Republican presidential nomination, particularly after she notched a series of strong performances at debates that Trump opted to skip.
She ultimately failed to pry loose enough conservative voters in the face of Trump’s dominance.
But her stronger showing among moderate Republicans and independents — she won unaffiliated voters by a wide margin in New Hampshire and notched almost 40 percent of the vote in South Carolina — highlighted how Trump’s scorched-earth style of politics could make him vulnerable in the Nov. 5 election.
On March 3, she won the Washington, D.C., Republican primary with 62.9 percent of the vote, versus 33.2 percent for Trump.
“It’s not surprising that Republicans closest to Washington dysfunction are rejecting Donald Trump and all his chaos,” Haley campaign spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas said in a statement.
Biden has his own baggage, including widespread concern about his age. Three-quarters of respondents in a February Reuters/Ipsos poll said he was too old to work in government, after already serving as the oldest US president in history.
About half of respondents said the same about Trump.

Key issues
As in 2020, the race is likely to come down to a handful of swing states, thanks to the winner-take-all, state-by-state Electoral College system that determines the presidential election. Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are all expected to be closely contested in November.
The central issues of the campaign have already come into focus. Despite low unemployment, a red-hot stock market and easing inflation, voters have voiced dissatisfaction with Biden’s economic performance.
Biden’s other major weakness is the state of the US-Mexico border, where a surge of migrants overwhelmed the system after Biden eased some Trump-era policies. Trump’s hawkish stance on immigration — including a promise to initiate the largest deportation effort in history — is at the core of his campaign, just as it was in 2016.
Voters expect Trump would do a better job on both the economy and immigration, according to opinion polls.
Republican lawmakers, egged on by Trump, rejected a bipartisan immigration enforcement bill in February, giving Biden an opportunity to argue that Republicans are more interested in preserving the southern border as a problem rather than finding a solution.
Democrats are also optimistic that voter sentiment on the economy will shift in Biden’s favor if economic trends go on rising throughout 2024.
Trump may be dogged by his myriad criminal charges throughout the year, though the schedule of his trials remains unclear. The federal case charging him with trying to overturn the 2020 election, perhaps the weightiest he faces, has been paused while Trump pursues a long-shot argument that he is immune from prosecution.
While most Republicans view his indictments as politically motivated, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling, about a quarter of Republicans and half of independents say they won’t support him if he is convicted of a crime before the election.
Biden has argued that Trump poses a threat to democracy, citing the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters seeking to reverse Biden’s 2020 victory.
Abortion, too, will play a crucial role after the nine-member US Supreme Court, buoyed by three Trump appointees, eliminated a nationwide right to terminate pregnancies in 2022. The subject has become a political liability for Republicans, helping Democrats over-perform expectations in the 2022 midterm elections.
Abortion rights advocates have launched efforts to put the issue before voters in several states, including the battleground of Arizona.
Haley thwarted
Haley, a former governor of South Carolina, had been among the first Republican contenders to enter the race in February 2023, but she was largely an afterthought until garnering attention for her standout debate performances later in the year.
She put her foreign policy expertise at the center of her campaign, adopting hawkish stances toward China and Russia and forcefully advocating for continued aid to Ukraine, a stance that put her at odds with the more isolationist Trump.
But she was reluctant to completely disavow her former boss — she served as Trump’s UN ambassador — despite his four indictments and two impeachments. Trump showed no such reticence, frequently insulting her intelligence and Indian heritage.
Only in the last months of her campaign did Haley begin to forcefully hit back at Trump, questioning his mental acuity, calling him a liar and saying he was too afraid to debate her. In the final weeks of the campaign, she became the standard-bearer for the anti-Trump wing of the party, a dramatic evolution for someone who just months earlier praised the former president in her stump speeches.
Still, she said she would pardon Trump if he were convicted in any of the criminal cases he faces, a position she has never abandoned.


North Korean trash balloons land near South Korea’s presidential complex

North Korean trash balloons land near South Korea’s presidential complex
Updated 24 July 2024
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North Korean trash balloons land near South Korea’s presidential complex

North Korean trash balloons land near South Korea’s presidential complex

SEOUL: North Korean balloons carrying trash have landed near South Korea’s presidential office, the Presidential Security Service said on Wednesday.

Trash carried by the balloons was identified in the area around the government complex in the Yongsan area, the security service said in a statement.

The objects in the balloons contained no contaminants or other risks, it added.

Since May, North Korea has periodically sent hundreds of balloons carrying an assortment of trash across the heavily fortified border with the South, prompting South Korea’s military to restart loudspeaker broadcasts targeting the North.

The North has said it is retaliating to an ongoing propaganda campaign by North Korean defectors and activists in the South, who regularly send inflatable containing anti-Pyongyang leaflets, alongside food, medicine, money and USB sticks loaded with K-pop videos and dramas.

North Korea had sent another batch of trash-laden balloons earlier on Wednesday, South Korea’s military confirmed.

“With the current wind direction being westerly, the suspected trash balloons aimed at the South are moving toward the northern part of Gyeonggi (province),” the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JUS) said.

Since 2022, the presidential office in South Korea has been located in Yongsan, a central district in Seoul, after President Yoon Suk Yeol broke with decades of tradition and moved out of the more secluded Blue House.


Trump campaign files complaint against Harris taking over Biden war chest

Trump campaign files complaint against Harris taking over Biden war chest
Updated 24 July 2024
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Trump campaign files complaint against Harris taking over Biden war chest

Trump campaign files complaint against Harris taking over Biden war chest

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday, arguing that US Vice President Kamala Harris could not legally take over funds raised by President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign.

Biden, an 81-year-old Democrat who was in a tight race with Republican challenger Donald Trump, endorsed Harris when he ended his reelection bid on Sunday. Harris quickly took control of Biden’s campaign accounts and on Monday night wrapped up the nomination by winning pledges from a majority of the delegates who at next month’s party convention will determine the nominee, according to her campaign.

The fight over the accounts, which had roughly $95 million in the bank at the end of June, is part of a multi-pronged effort by Republicans to stymie Harris’ bid to lead the Democratic ticket.

The Trump campaign argued that Harris undertook a “brazen money grab,” according to the filing by David Warrington, the campaign’s general counsel. In the filing, which was shared with Reuters, Warrington said Harris was in the process of committing what he described as the “the largest campaign finance violation in American history.”

Saurav Ghosh, a lawyer at the Campaign Legal Center, a non-partisan watchdog group, has said that because Harris was already part of “Biden for President” as the vice presidential candidate, her claim on the money should be secure.

In any case, election regulators are unlikely to resolve the issue before the Nov. 5 presidential election.

The FEC said they were unable to comment on unresolved enforcement matters.

Harris’ campaign has said it had raised $100 million since Sunday, when Biden stepped back from the campaign and endorsed her — exceeding Biden’s remaining tally in just a few days. Her campaign brushed off the FEC complaint.

“Republicans may be jealous that Democrats are energized to defeat Donald Trump and his MAGA allies, but baseless legal claims – like the ones they’ve made for years to try to suppress votes and steal elections – will only distract them while we sign up volunteers, talk to voters, and win this election,” said Harris campaign spokesperson Charles Kretchmer Lutvak.


India’s strategic railway bridge closes the gap to Kashmir

India’s strategic railway bridge closes the gap to Kashmir
Updated 24 July 2024
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India’s strategic railway bridge closes the gap to Kashmir

India’s strategic railway bridge closes the gap to Kashmir

REASI: Soaring high across a gorge in the rugged Himalayas, a newly finished bridge will soon help India entrench control of disputed Kashmir and meet a rising strategic threat from China.

The Chenab Rail Bridge, the highest of its kind in the world, has been hailed as a feat of engineering linking the restive Kashmir valley to the vast Indian plains by train for the first time.

But its completion has sparked concern among some in a territory with a long history of opposing Indian rule, already home to a permanent garrison of more than 500,000 soldiers.

India’s military brass say the strategic benefits of the bridge to New Delhi cannot be understated.

“The train to Kashmir will be pivotal in peace and in wartime,” General Deependra Singh Hooda, a retired former chief of India’s northern military command, told AFP.

Muslim-majority Kashmir is at the center of a bitter rivalry between India and Pakistan, divided between them since independence from British rule in 1947, and the nuclear-armed neighbors have fought wars over it.

Rebel groups have also waged a 35-year-long insurgency demanding independence for the territory or its merger with Pakistan.

The new bridge “will facilitate the movement of army personnel coming and going in larger numbers than was previously possible,” said Noor Ahmad Baba, a politics professor at the Central University of Kashmir.

But, as well as soldiers, the bridge will “facilitate movement” of ordinary people and goods, he told AFP.

That has prompted unease among some in Kashmir who believe easier access will bring a surge of outsiders coming to buy land and settle.

Previously tight rules on land ownership were lifted after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government canceled Kashmir’s partial autonomy in 2019.

“If the intent is to browbeat the Kashmiri consciousness of its linguistic, cultural and intellectual identity, or to put muscular nationalism on display, the impact will be negative,” historian Sidiq Wahid told AFP.

India Railways calls the $24 million bridge “arguably the biggest civil engineering challenge faced by any railway project in India in recent history.”

It is hoped to boost economic development and trade, cutting the cost of moving goods.

But Hooda, the retired general, said the bridge’s most important consequence would be revolutionizing logistics in Ladakh, the icy region bordering China.

India and China, the world’s two most populous nations, are intense rivals competing for strategic influence across South Asia, and their 3,500-kilometer (2,200-mile) shared frontier has been a perennial source of tension.

Their troops clashed in 2020, killing at least 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers, and forces from both sides today face off across contested high-altitude borderlands.

“Everything from a needle to the biggest military equipment... has to be sent by road and stocked up in Ladakh for six months every year before the roads close for winter,” Hooda told AFP.

Now all that can be transported by train, easing what Indian military experts call the “world’s biggest military logistics exercise” — supplying Ladakh through snowbound passes.

The project will buttress several other road tunnel projects under way that will connect Kashmir and Ladakh, not far from India’s frontiers with China and Pakistan.

The 1,315-meter-long steel and concrete bridge connects two mountains with an arch 359 meters above the cool waters of the Chenab River.

Trains are ready to run and only await an expected ribbon cutting from Modi.

The 272-kilometer railway begins in the garrison city of Udhampur, headquarters of the army’s northern command, and runs through the region’s capital Srinagar.

It terminates a kilometer higher in altitude in Baramulla, a gateway trade town near the Line of Control with Pakistan.

When the road is open, it is twice the distance and takes a day of driving.

The railway cost an estimated $3.9 billion and has been an immense undertaking, with construction beginning nearly three decades ago.

While several road and pipeline bridges are higher, Guinness World Records confirmed that Chenab trumps the previous highest railway bridge, the Najiehe bridge in China.

Describing India’s new bridge as a “marvel,” its deputy chief designer R.R. Mallick, said the experience of designing and building it “has become a holy book for our engineers.”


Republican leaders urge colleagues to steer clear of racist and sexist attacks on Harris

Republican leaders urge colleagues to steer clear of racist and sexist attacks on Harris
Updated 24 July 2024
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Republican leaders urge colleagues to steer clear of racist and sexist attacks on Harris

Republican leaders urge colleagues to steer clear of racist and sexist attacks on Harris
  • The warnings point to the new risks for Republicans in running against a Democrat who would become the first woman, first Black woman and first person of South Asian decent to win the White House

WASHINGTON: Republican leaders are warning party members against using overtly racist and sexist attacks against Vice President Kamala Harris, as they and former President Donald Trump ‘s campaign scramble to adjust to the reality of a new Democratic rival less than four months before Election Day.
At a closed-door meeting of House Republicans on Tuesday, National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Richard Hudson, R-N.C., urged lawmakers to stick to criticizing Harris for her role in Biden-Harris administration policies.
“This election will be about policies and not personalities,” House Speaker Mike Johnson told reporters after the meeting.
“This is not personal with regard to Kamala Harris,” he added, “and her ethnicity or her gender have nothing to do with this whatsoever.”
The warnings point to the new risks for Republicans in running against a Democrat who would become the first woman, first Black woman and first person of South Asian decent to win the White House. Trump, in particular, has a history of racist and misogynistic attacks that could turn off key groups of swing voters, including suburban women, as well as voters of color and younger people Trump’s campaign has been courting.
The admonitions came after some members and Trump allies began to cast Harris, a former district attorney, attorney general and senator, as a “DEI” hire — a reference to diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
“Intellectually, just really kind of the bottom of the barrel,” Wyoming Rep. Harriet Hageman said in a TV interview. “I think she was a DEI hire. And I think that that’s what we’re seeing and I just don’t think that they have anybody else.”
Since Biden announced he was exiting the campaign, Republicans have rolled out a long list of attack lines against Harris, including trying to tie her to the most unpopular Biden policies and his handling of the economy and the Southern border. Trump campaign officials and other Republicans have accused Harris of being complicit in a cover-up of Biden’s health issues, and they have been mining her record as a prosecutor in California as they try to paint her as soft on crime.
Johnson said both Trump and Harris have records in White House policy and said voters can compare how families were doing under the Trump administration with how they’re doing now under Biden.
“She is the co-owner, co-author, co-conspirator in all the policies that got us into the mess,” Johnson said.
Biden announced Sunday that he was withdrawing from the race. In a memo on the state of the race Tuesday, Trump campaign pollster Tony Fabrizio argued the fundamentals of the campaign had not changed now that Harris appears increasingly likely to be the Democratic nominee.
“The Democrats deposing one Nominee for another does NOT change voters discontent over the economy, inflation, crime, the open border, housing costs not to mention concern over two foreign wars,” he wrote. “As importantly, voters will also learn about Harris’ dangerously liberal record before becoming Biden’s partner.”
In similar messaging, Hudson told members at the Tuesday meeting that the NRCC is focusing on how Harris is even more progressive than Biden and essentially “owns” all the administration’s policies, according to a person familiar with the conversation and granted anonymity to discuss it.
Sen. Steve Daines, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, echoed that criticism, calling Harris “too liberal.”
“She’s not an Irish Catholic kid who grew up in Scranton. She’s a San Francisco liberal,” Daines said.
Trump offered a similar argument in call with reporters Tuesday.
“She’s the same as Biden but much more radical. She’s a radical left person and this country doesn’t want a radical left person to destroy it. She’s far more radical than he is,” he said.
“So I think she should be easier than Biden because he was slightly more mainstream, but not much,” he added.
Later, in an interview on Newsmax, Trump claimed Harris “destroyed the city of San Francisco,” though she left her job as district attorney there in 2011, and called her “the worst at everything.”
“Kamala Harris is just as weak, failed and incompetent as Joe Biden — and she’s also dangerously liberal,” the Trump campaign said in a statement. “Not only does Kamala need to defend her support of Joe Biden’s failed agenda over the past four years, she also needs to answer for her own terrible weak-on-crime record in California.”
Trump has a long history of launching particularly caustic and personal attacks against women, from former Fox News host Megyn Kelly to his 2016 primary opponent Carly Fiorina to New York Attorney General Letitia James, who successfully sued him and his business for fraud.
In a sign of what could come, Trump in a Fourth of July message on his Truth Social network took a jab at Harris’ poor performance in the 2020 Democratic primary, adding “that doesn’t mean she’s not a ‘highly talented’ politician! Just ask her Mentor, the Great Willie Brown of San Francisco.” Harris dated Brown in the mid-1990s.
Strong and intelligent women who attack him seem to get especially under Trump’s skin, said Stephanie Grisham, a 2016 campaign aide who served for a time as Trump’s White House press secretary, before breaking with him after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.
“She’s going to get a real rise out of him,” predicted Grisham, noting that when Trump is attacked, he “punches 1,000 times harder. He’s not going to be able to help himself.”
When it comes to women, she added: “His go-to is to attack looks and to call women dumb. It’s his go-to and I don’t expect this to be any different.”
Rep. Maxine Waters of California, who is a prominent member of the Congressional Black Caucus and was among the early Democrats to confront Trump, said she is well-braced for what’s ahead as the Republicans turn the campaign toward Harris.
“The first thing I think about are the attacks that are going to come from the Trump, the MAGA right wing — that have already started,” Waters told the AP. “They’re going to be nasty they’re going to be bad.”
She predicted that approach might backfire on Trump.
“The danger is that he’s so arrogant and egotistical that he’s going to step on women and it’s going to backfire,” she said.
The dynamics could be heightened on the debate stage, if Trump goes through with debating Harris, as he said Thursday he would.
Republican pollster Neil Newhouse said Trump was unlikely to debate Harris in the same way he would debate Biden — or the same way he debated another female rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton, in 2016.
“I don’t think Trump can approach a debate against Kamala Harris with the same tone that he approached the debate with Hillary Clinton. Kamala Harris does not have the negatives that Hillary had and she is a relatively new political face,” he said. “Caution might be warranted.”


Clip resurfaces of Vance criticizing Harris for being ‘childless,’ testing Trump’s new running mate

Clip resurfaces of Vance criticizing Harris for being ‘childless,’ testing Trump’s new running mate
Updated 24 July 2024
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Clip resurfaces of Vance criticizing Harris for being ‘childless,’ testing Trump’s new running mate

Clip resurfaces of Vance criticizing Harris for being ‘childless,’ testing Trump’s new running mate
  • The Harris campaign contested Vance’s stance, saying “every single American has a stake in this country’s future”

WASHINGTON: Comments JD Vance made in 2021 questioning Vice President Kamala Harris’ leadership because she did not have biological children have resurfaced, testing the young conservative senator in his early days campaigning as part of the Republicans’ presidential ticket.
During Vance’s bid for the Senate in Ohio, he said in a Fox News interview that “we are effectively run in this country via the Democrats,” and referred to them as “a bunch of childless cat ladies who are miserable at their own lives and the choices that they’ve made and so they want to make the rest of the country miserable, too.” He said that included Harris, US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat.
“How does it make any sense that we’ve turned our country over to people who don’t really have a direct stake in it?” asked Vance, who is now Donald Trump’s running mate. Harris became stepmother to two teenagers when she married entertainment lawyer Douglas Emhoff in 2014. And Buttigieg announced he and his husband adopted infant twins in September 2021, more than a month before Vance made those comments.
The clip has started to spread online, with Hillary Clinton sharing it in a Tuesday post on X and adding sarcastically “what a normal, relatable guy who certainly doesn’t hate women having freedoms.”
The recirculated comment may be a sign of the GOP ticket’s troubles appealing to women voters, and on the issue of reproductive rights. It follows the explosive entrance in the race of Harris, who secured the support of enough delegates to become the official nominee in less than 32 hours after President Joe Biden ended his reelection bid.
It also lays out some of the fears expressed by strategists that Trump took a political risk in picking a running mate who has been in Congress less than two years and is largely untested on a bigger stage. Trump liked Vance’s telegenic qualities and said he reminded him of “a young Abraham Lincoln.”
The Harris campaign contested Vance’s stance, saying “every single American has a stake in this country’s future.”
“Ugly, personal attacks from JD Vance and Donald Trump are in line with their dangerous Project 2025 agenda to ban abortion, decimate our democracy, and gut Social Security,” said James Singer, a Harris campaign spokesman, referring to a policy and personnel plan for a second Trump term that was crafted by a host of former administration officials. Trump has been trying to distance himself from it. Project 2025 says the Department of Health and Human Services should “pursue a robust agenda” to protect “the fundamental right to life.” However, the document contains no proposals to cut Social Security, though the Heritage Foundation that oversaw it has long pushed for changes to the entitlement. The plan outlines a dramatic expansion of presidential power and a plan to fire as many as 50,000 government workers.
Vance’s spokesperson said the Harris campaign is lying about Vance’s views, noting her record is “littered with countless failures and disasters.
“It’s well known that Senator Vance found success in life due in large part to the influence of strong female role models like his grandmother,” spokesperson Taylor Van Kirk said.
Vance, 39, is a former Marine and businessman who was first elected to public office in 2022. He wrote the 2016 bestseller “Hillbilly Elegy,” and developed a strong rapport with Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr. and leading MAGA figures with his personal story of growing up in Appalachia in poverty with a mother battling drug addiction could resonate with voters.
One of the major questions Vance is facing is on his abortion stance. Vance previously said he would support a federal bill to prohibit abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, but believes in certain exceptions.
In 2021, Vance floated an idea to allow parents to cast ballots on behalf of their children, saying during a speech at the conservative nonprofit Intercollegiate Studies Institute in Virginia that people who don’t have children “don’t have as much of an investment in the future of the country.”
“When you go to the polls in this country as a parent, you should have more power, you should have more of an availability to speak your voice in our democratic republic than people who don’t have kids,” he said.
“Doesn’t this mean that non parents don’t have as much of a voice as parents?” he said critics would then ask. “Doesn’t this mean that parents get a bigger say in how a democracy functions? Yes, absolutely.”