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Republican senator Susan Collins refuses to endorse Trump after Haley exit

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) walks to a luncheon with Senate Republicans at the U.S. Capitol Building on February 27, 2024 in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins declined to endorse anyone after Nikki Haley dropped out of the presidential race when the senator was asked by The Independent on Wednesday.

Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said “I wish she hadn’t,” regarding the former UN Ambassador leaving the race.

Ms Haley dropped out of the presidential race this morning after she only managed to win Vermont on Super Tuesday. Fourteen races have been called in favour of Donald Trump, who took the stage at Mar-a-Lago to declare victory.

After making no appearance on Tuesday, Ms Haley spoke in Charleston today.

“The time has now come to suspend my campaign,” she said.

“In all likelihood, Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee when our party convention meets in July. I congratulate him, and wish him well,” she said.

But she declined to endorse the former president.

“I have always been a conservative Republican and always supported the Republican nominee,” she concluded. “But on this question, as she did on so many others, Margaret Thatcher provided some good advice when she said, ‘Never just follow the crowd. Always make up your own mind.’”

Ms Collins backed Ms Haley before she dropped out but declined to endorse either Mr Trump or President Joe Biden when speaking to The Independent on Wednesday.

At a rally in Portland, Maine on Sunday, Ms Haley praised Ms Collins’s courage for backing her even as most of her party is supporting Mr Trump.

“When all the fellas are falling in line, she showed why she’s got a steel spine,” Ms Haley said, according to USA Today. “Thank you for showing the fellas that you’ve got more balls than them.”

On Tuesday, Mr Trump beat Ms Haley in the Maine Republican presidential primary by a wide margin, winning more than 70 per cent of the vote.

Only three members of Congress came out in support of Ms Haley – Ms Collins, Ms Murkowski, and South Carolina Rep Ralph Norman. More than 30 Senate Republicans have endorsed Mr Trump, including outgoing Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell – who put out a statement after Ms Haley dropped out on Wednesday.

“It is abundantly clear that former President Trump has earned the requisite support of Republican voters to be our nominee for President of the United States,” he said.

“It should come as no surprise that as the nominee, he will have my support,” Mr McConnell said of Mr Trump, despite having not spoken to him for years. “During his Presidency, we worked together to accomplish great things for the American people including tax reform that supercharged our economy and a generational change of our federal judiciary - most importantly, the Supreme Court.”

Ms Collins and Ms Murkowski endorsed Ms Haley ahead of Super Tuesday.

The Maine senator said the former South Carolina governor was “extremely well-qualified to serve as our first female president”.

“She has the energy, intellect, and temperament that we need to lead our country in these very tumultuous times,” she added.

“America needs someone with the right values, vigor, and judgment to serve as our next President—and in this race, there is no one better than her,” Ms Murkowski said. “Nikki will be a strong leader and uphold the ideals of the Republican Party while serving as a President for all Americans.”

Ms Haley dropped out after only winning two primary contests against Mr Trump in Washington DC on Sunday and in Vermont on Super Tuesday.