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Nikki Haley holds fundraiser in South Carolina, not expected to support Trump

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(WASHINGTON) – Nikki Haley will meet this week with about 100 of her biggest donors who supported her campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, taking another step toward a return to public life after her loss to her main rival, the former President Donald Trump, sources familiar with the incident confirmed to ABC News.

The retreat, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, will take place Monday and Tuesday in Charleston, South Carolina, not far from Haley's home in the state's lowlands.

Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, is still not expected to endorse her former ally, now presumptive Republican nominee, at the meetings or solicit donors for donations to other campaigns. Rather, the event is being touted as an opportunity for Haley to thank her supporters for their support during her own campaign.

The decision not to support Trump had a major impact on her public persona and fueled speculation about the former South Carolina governor's next moves.

When she told her supporters the day she dropped out that it was now up to Trump to “win the votes of those in our party and beyond who did not support him,” the move made Haley an outsider in her class of GOP candidates for 2024. Many of the Republicans who once challenged Trump for the nomination quickly threw their support behind him after leaving the race.

But while Haley has kept a relatively low profile since leaving office more than two months ago, she has continued to rack up hundreds of thousands of votes in state Republican primaries — most recently more than 120,000 votes in Indiana, about 22% of the vote.

In total, Haley has won nearly 4 million votes so far, about 20% of all votes cast so far.

Haley's name was briefly floated as a potential vice presidential running mate for Trump on Saturday after a report from Axios appeared to confirm that she was in the race – a rumor that Trump and his campaign quickly dismissed.

“Nikki Haley is not being considered for vice president, but I wish her well,” Trump posted on his social media platform shortly after the rumor surfaced.

But what awaits them politically in a party dominated by Trump remains unclear.

Last month, Haley was named chairman of the conservative think tank Hudson Institute. In a statement announcing the appointment, Haley said she would make it her mission to “defend the principles that make America the greatest country in the world.”

In recent weeks, she has begun actively posting again on social media criticizing President Joe Biden's handling of Israel's war in Gaza and sharply criticizing campus protests at universities expressing solidarity with civilians in the country Gaza – but mentions neither Trump nor his campaign to defeat Biden.

In the final days of her campaign, Haley became increasingly clear about the challenges of the GOP primary, telling the Wall Street Journal in late February that naming Trump as the Republican candidate would be tantamount to “suicide for our country,” and at other times calling him “not qualified” after Trump made derogatory comments about her husband’s military service.

Although Haley didn't run again, she maintained a healthy campaign coffers until the end – she ended her candidacy with $7.8 million in cash in her primary campaign committee and another $11.7 million in her joint fundraising committee, according to the filing documents submitted to the FEC. Haley's leadership PAC also said it had about $3.4 million in the bank as of April.

She now has the authority to convert that money into a new political super PAC or transfer it to an existing network of PACs she has already created, although she has not yet signaled how — if at all — these funds will be used in the coming months could be used.

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Anna Harden

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