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Nikki in Needham: Haley Holds Rally Ahead of Decisive Super Tuesday Vote

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks at a rally in Needham, Mass. on Saturday. Her visit to the Commonwealth comes days before a crucial Republican primary on Tuesday.
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks at a rally in Needham, Mass. on Saturday. Her visit to the Commonwealth comes days before a crucial Republican primary on Tuesday. By Thomas J. Mete
By Thomas J. Mete and Neil H. Shah, Crimson Staff Writers

NEEDHAM, Mass. — Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley discussed abortion laws, immigration reform, and rising national debt during a campaign stop in the Commonwealth as part of a last-ditch effort to mobilize support ahead of a crucial Republican primary on Tuesday.

During Saturday’s rally, Haley addressed a packed room of several hundred people and attacked Republican frontrunner Donald Trump at several points during her speech. Retired U.S. Army brigadier general Donald C. Bolduc and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, one of Haley’s most high-profile endorsers, introduced her at the event.

“This isn’t just some alternative candidate — we’re talking about Nikki freaking Haley,” Sununu said to loud applause.

Approximately one-third of primary delegates nationwide will be up for grabs Tuesday when voters in 15 states head to the polls — a day colloquially referred to as Super Tuesday. Haley, who won her first primary Sunday in D.C., currently trails Trump’s delegate count 244-43 and is widely expected to reevaluate the viability of her campaign based on Tuesday’s outcome.

Haley — who on Sunday said she no longer felt bound by her pledge to unconditionally support the eventual Republican nominee — urged voters to go to the polls on Tuesday to help take the country “in a new direction.”

“More of the same is not just Joe Biden, more of the same is Donald Trump,” she said. “And I want you to know right now, 70 percent of Americans don’t want Joe Biden or Donald Trump.”

Haley singled out Trump, pointing to his reaction to the New Hampshire primary — in which she, while losing by 11 points, had a competitive showing.

“He was completely unhinged,” she said. “He threw a temper tantrum, and all he did was talk about revenge — and my dress.”

Haley also focused on abortion law, saying women had specifically asked her to address the topic in Massachusetts. She expressed support for the Supreme Court decision — by “unelected justices,” as she referred to them twice — to overturn Roe v. Wade and return full control over abortion policy to individual states.

“We may have 45 pro-life senators. So, no Republican president can ban abortion any more than a Democrat president can ban these state laws,” Haley said, encouraging voters to instead seek a consensus.

“I am tired of watching the fact that Democrats have put fear in women, and Republicans have used judgment of women, and there is no place for that,” she added. “Our overall goal should be ‘How do we save as many babies as possible and support as many moms as possible?’”

Haley expressed her support for in vitro fertilization, the legality of which was thrown into doubt recently in Alabama following a ruling in its top court.

In deep-blue Massachusetts, Haley’s rally attracted many registered Democrats seeking an alternative to Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee.

“I’m annoyed with a lot of the rhetoric right now that Democrats are coming out to support Nikki Haley just to rig the system,” said Emily Mira, a registered Democrat.

Julie Barcel, a lifelong Democrat committed to backing Haley, said she found “hope in her candidacy.”

“I thought to myself, my God, where has this woman been?” Barcel added.

Despite drawing numerous Democrats and independents, the crowd was also packed with many Never-Trump Republicans and dozens wearing “Barred Permanently” t-shirts, a reference to comments made by Trump banning Haley supporters from his MAGA movement.

“She is a woman of integrity, decency, and honesty and for that reason contrasts favorably with the two moral reprobates who are running for president,” said Jay Bergman, a registered Republican who donned a Nikki Haley baseball cap.

“Trump is a vain, narcissistic, dishonest, infantile individual, who — remarkably — is no better than Biden,” he added.

The event also drew several Haley critics including a man sporting the trademark red “Make America Great Again” hat and another who interrupted Bolduc’s introductory remarks to attack Haley’s hawkish foreign policy views. His comments were swiftly drained out by boos from the crowd.

“She has a big mouth and picks on Trump constantly, so I wanna know what her opinion is about the 10 million illegals,” said Joe Casari, who committed to backing Trump on Tuesday.

“Everybody has their opinions so let’s see what she has to say, rather than just going ‘Trump sucks,’” he added.

Haley’s fate in Massachusetts will be determined on Tuesday when the state holds its open primary — allowing independent voters, the state’s largest voting bloc, to vote as well. In 2016, Trump carried the state’s primary by more than 30 points, but placed third in Cambridge.

—Staff writer Thomas J. Mete can be reached at thomas.mete@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @thomasjmete.

—Staff writer Neil H. Shah can be reached at neil.shah@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @neilhshah15.

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