Quit now and stop wasting funds I could spend to beat Biden, Trump tells Haley in vitriolic attack

Ms Haley’s improved performance in New Hampshire came amid record turnout from independent voters, who are eligible to vote in the Republican contest under the state’s open primary system.

Her campaign has argued she can build on the voter coalition, with more than two-thirds of states voting in early March’s “Super Tuesday” using similar systems.

However, the polls suggest Mr Trump will continue on his current trajectory and could have secured enough delegates to clinch the nomination by mid-March.

Despite the long odds, Ms Haley, a former South Carolina governor, pledged to fight on to her home state, which votes at the end of next month.

“I want to congratulate Donald Trump on his victory tonight. He earned it, and I want to acknowledge that,” she told supporters at a hotel conference centre in Concord.  

‘I’m a fighter … this race is far from over’

But she continued: “I’m a fighter… and this race is far from over.”

“Today we got close to half of the vote,” she added. “We still have a way to go, but we keep moving up.”

In a shift from the conciliatory speech he offered after the Iowa caucuses on Jan 15, Mr Trump launched into a tirade against his challenger.

He said: “Who the hell was the imposter that went up on the stage that went before and claimed victory?”

He went on to suggest Ms Haley could be “under investigation” if she beat him.

“Just a little note to Nikki, she is not going to win, but if she did she would be under investigation,” he said.

“I could tell you five reasons why already, not big reasons, little stuff that she doesn’t want to talk about.”

To win in November, Mr Trump will need to unite the Republican Party behind him.

DeSantis warns of enthusiasm problem

That effort was under way on Tuesday night, with former rivals Vivek Ramaswamy, Tim Scott and Doug Burgum joining him on stage to show their support.

Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor, has also endorsed Mr Trump but he did not join him on stage in New Hampshire, and used his first interview since quitting the field to warn of an “enthusiasm problem” for the Republican front-runner.

Mr DeSantis told conservative radio host Steve Deace: “When I have people come up to me who … have been conservative their whole life [and] say that they don’t want to vote for Trump again, that’s a problem.

“So he’s got to figure out a way to solve that. I think there’s an enthusiasm problem overall.”

Mr DeSantis called the trend a “huge warning sign for Republicans”.

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