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Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley holds San Antonio rally

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Halley speaking in the middle of a crowd of supporters during a rally at Market Square on Feb. 16, 2024.
Joey Palacious
Texas Public Radio
Republican Presidential candidate Nikki Halley speaking in the middle of a crowd of supporters during a rally at Market Square on Feb. 16, 2024

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley attracted a couple of hundred supporters during a rally in Market Square on Friday that focused on immigration, health care for veterans, and her ability to beat President Joe Biden and the current Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

On immigration, Haley told the crowd, if elected, she would add 25,000 Border Patrol agents and back a policy of "catch and deport."

She said she'll push for better health care for veterans. Much of her speech focused on veterans' issues during her stop in "Military City USA." She also touched upon her husband Michael's Army National Guard active-duty service in Afghanistan.

She reminded the crowd Trump once referred to military service members who were killed while on active duty as "losers" and "suckers."

"The closest he's ever come to being in harm's way is by a golf ball if he's sitting on a golf cart." Haley said.

She said most polls show Americans do not want to see the aging Trump or Biden in the White House for another term.

Haley said some polls show her beating Biden by double digits in a one-on-one matchup and despite an absence of any early state GOP primary wins, she claimed to be closing the gap with Trump.

"Now let me say this, because you will hear all the media pundits say, 'but what if, but what if.' But what if...I'm not going anywhere."

Texas Public Radio interviewed several Haley supporters after the rally. Most said they believed she could close the poll gaps with Trump.

Jennifer Hughes said she thinks Haley can beat Trump and good character is an important trait for her to see in a presidential candidate.

"I am hopeful there are enough intelligent people in our country to see that he is completely a loser, and we don't need him again," she said.

Trump supporter Michael Reynolds said he still backs him, but he did express some concern for his ability to stay in the race.

"If I had one choice, you know, at this point, I would still be on the Trump side, but he's in court a lot. If he does not make that, the only other option is Nikki, but I do like her."

Haley urged her supporters to get out and vote in Texas on Super Tuesday on March 5.

A handful of Trump backers showed up to heckle Haley. Also in the crowd were groups of pro-Palestinian activists voicing their disapproval of Haley. They were met with chants of "USA."