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Trump and Haley hold competing rallies in North Carolina ahead of Super Tuesday

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

It's about an hour-and-a-half drive between Raleigh and Greensboro, N.C. - not too long a commute, unless you're trying to catch two competing campaign rallies.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NIKKI HALEY: Raleigh, you know how to bring it.

(CHEERING)

DONALD TRUMP: Hello, Greensboro. Hello, Greensboro. I'm thrilled to be back.

(CHEERING)

RASCOE: Former President Donald Trump and Nikki Haley, the former governor of neighboring South Carolina, made their final pitches in the state ahead of Super Tuesday. NPR's Elena Moore takes us there.

ELENA MOORE, BYLINE: The sun shines bright through the big windows of Raleigh's Union Station as Nikki Haley tries to dismiss any skeptics.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HALEY: All the media is losing their minds. They're like, why does she keep fighting? Why does she keep doing this? The reason I'm doing this is because of my kids. It's because of your kids and our grandkids.

MOORE: Haley has pledged to stay through Super Tuesday, when more than a dozen states, including North Carolina, will vote. But her path after that is unclear. She's yet to win a single primary. And her opponent, former President Donald Trump, leads in national polls. But her fight resonates with Juandria Williams from Cary, N.C.

JUANDRIA WILLIAMS: She has a tough battle, but she's not giving in. She's not giving up because when you're leading this country, you've got to have that grit.

MOORE: Also sticking with her is Kim Martin of Hertford, N.C., a longtime fan of Haley since she was governor.

KIM MARTIN: She can bring back dignity to the position in my opinion.

MOORE: She's praying Haley can push through. And if it comes down to it, Martin will write her in this fall. She won't support Trump.

MARTIN: He has the qualities of being that dictator we don't need. We need a unifier. She's a unifier. She understands what the people need and want.

MOORE: The Haley campaign says the event had around 1,500 attendees. But at the Greensboro Coliseum complex, thousands pile in.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Trump. Trump. Trump. Trump. Trump.

MOORE: Though it's still primary season, Trump's ready to move on to the general election.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: With your help, we will win big on Super Tuesday, and this November, North Carolina is going to tell crooked Joe Biden, Joe, you're fired. Get out of here. Get out.

MOORE: And to many of his supporters, no one else stands a chance.

FAYE ROWE: President Trump can run corners around all of them.

MOORE: That's Faye Rowe of Lexington, N.C. While waiting in line to get into the rally, she expressed doubts about Biden's mental stability, and she sees Haley's recent loss in her home state of South Carolina as a clear reason to end her campaign.

ROWE: Nikki Haley is losing a battle with Trump. She might as well just get out and drop out and say, that's it.

MOORE: Greensboro's Daniel Teague is also waiting outside. For him, Haley isn't conservative enough. He agrees with Trump's record, especially on foreign policy, the economy and appointing conservative justices to the Supreme Court. So he'll back him again.

DANIEL TEAGUE: He's a little rough around the edges, but that's what draws him to a lot of people, too. He says what he means, and he means what he says. And he's not afraid to offend because he's not beholden to anybody.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HALEY: Let's go make our voices loud. Come on, Raleigh, I know we can do it. God bless you. Thank you very much.

(CHEERING)

MOORE: Back at the Haley rally, Freddy DiVallerino knows Haley's chances are slim. He voted for Trump in 2016, then flipped to Biden in 2020. Now Haley is his pick, and he won't be going back to Trump. He reregistered as an independent.

FREDDY DIVALLERINO: And I'm going to stay that way until the Republican Party changes back and starts doing right again. I realized that he controlled the party now.

MOORE: Even though Haley is unlikely to clinch the nomination, for Emily Roberson and her family, Haley and her candidacy are about something bigger.

EMILY ROBERSON: I just think she represents best what a lot of us are feeling - kind of left out of both sides of the equation. Whether you are more liberal or more conservative, I just think she speaks to the missing middle.

MOORE: Roberson is also planning to write Haley in if she doesn't win the nomination. But some Haley voters are keeping their options open. And there's time for the Trump campaign to win them back. Elena Moore, NPR News, Raleigh.

(SOUNDBITE OF TOMMY FLANAGAN'S "SKAL BROTHERS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Elena Moore is a production assistant for the NPR Politics Podcast. She also fills in as a reporter for the NewsDesk. Moore previously worked as a production assistant for Morning Edition. During the 2020 presidential campaign, she worked for the Washington Desk as an editorial assistant, doing both research and reporting. Before coming to NPR, Moore worked at NBC News. She is a graduate of The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and is originally and proudly from Brooklyn, N.Y.
Argin Hutchins