(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump won the Republican presidential primary in South Carolina delivering a blow to rival Nikki Haley in her home state as the former president continues his sweep of the 2024 nominating contests. 

Trump’s victory, called immediately Saturday after polls closed, solidifies his path to the Republican nomination. He has sought to quickly wrap up the primary race as he faces a flurry of legal troubles and pivot to a rematch with President Joe Biden. 

Trump led Haley by more than 20 percentage points with about 60% of the vote counted, according to the Associated Press. Still, Haley vowed to stay in the race through Super Tuesday on March 5, when more than a dozen US states hold primaries. 

Trump is still short of the delegates needed, but his win over Haley in the state where she served as governor leaves him with an unobstructed path to the nomination.

Haley is Trump’s last major challenger in a race that has seen the former president dominate every Republican primary contest, with commanding wins in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada ahead of South Carolina.

Trump took the stage in Columbia, South Carolina, shortly after the race was called, joined by daughter-in-law Lara Trump and other allies, including South Carolina US Senator Tim Scott, considered to be a potential running mate. 

“This was a little sooner than we anticipated,” Trump said. “An even bigger win than we anticipated.”

Haley’s Future

Haley is likely to face increased pressure to exit the race and questions about whether her impressive slate of donors will continue funding a longshot bid.

In a speech to supporters, Haley vowed to press on, citing support from about 40% of voters.

“I’m a woman of my word. I’m not giving up this fight when a majority of Americans disapprove of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden,” she said. 

Haley pointed to polls showing Americans have little appetite for a 2020 presidential rematch between the two men.

“From the start of this campaign, I have made clear that I’m running for president to save America,” Haley said. 

A quick end to the GOP primary would benefit Trump, who is facing four criminal cases — involving 91 felony counts — and multiple civil lawsuits. His court appearances are scheduled to ramp up this spring and threaten to keep him off the campaign trail.

The legal issues are also impacting his finances. Trump’s political operation has spent more than $50 million on his defense and he owes hundreds of millions of dollars in court judgments.

Trump 2.0 

A second Trump administration would mark a major policy shift in Washington. Trump has pledged a mass deportation of undocumented immigrants, large tariffs hikes on imports, and domestic tax cuts. He has also floated abandoning NATO allies who don’t keep up defense spending targets, sparking worries from European leaders.

Trump pressured lawmakers earlier this month to kill a bipartisan proposal that sought to address the migrant crisis on the US-Mexico border and unlock over $60 billion in Ukraine aid, urging them to hold out for a “perfect” deal on immigration.

He has sought to tighten his grip on the party’s campaign apparatus, endorsing Lara Trump to help lead the Republican National Committee after publicly urging current chair, Ronna McDaniel, to step down. McDaniel has been in discussions to leave her role, according to people familiar.

Earlier: Trump Endorses His Daughter-in-Law as Co-Chair of the RNC

For Haley, the result is a humiliating defeat after she poured her campaign’s resources into the state, spending significantly more time and money there than Trump.

She urged voters to turn the page from Trump, 77, and Biden, 81, to embrace leaders from a younger generation, and appealed to moderate Republicans, independents and Democrats to capitalize on South Carolina’s open primary system.

The contest became increasingly acrimonious with Trump, who mocked Haley with derogatory nicknames and questioned why her husband, a National Guard member deployed to Africa, was not on the trail with her, as he sought to pressure her from the race.

Haley in turn questioned Trump’s mental fitness after he confused her with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and telling voters that the former president’s policies and legal woes would ensure “chaos” if he were reelected.

The former UN ambassador broke with Trump on foreign policy, assailing him for threats to NATO members and for obstructing aid to Ukraine.

--With assistance from Gregory Korte and Alicia Diaz.

(Updates with Haley comments beginning in eighth paragraph)

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