Nikki Haley walks back pledge to support Donald Trump if he's the GOP nominee

Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks at a Republican campaign event in Needham, Mass., Saturday, March 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

WASHINGTON – GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley says she no longer feels bound by the Republican National Committee pledge to endorse former President Donald Trump if he becomes the party’s nominee.

“The RNC is now not the same RNC,” the former South Carolina governor said on NBC's "Meet the Press'' in an interview that aired on Sunday. “I'll make what decision I want to make."

Haley's stance is a shift from an earlier pledge to support the Republican nominee. The RNC required candidates to sign a loyalty pledge to get on the primary debate stage. Trump declined to sign and did not participate in any of the debates.

During the first GOP debate, Haley was among a handful of candidates who said they would vote for Trump if he were the Republican nominee, even if he were convicted of a felony.

Haley's comments about the RNC follow the resignation last week of its elected leaders, including outgoing chair Ronna McDaniel.

Trump is seeking to install his daughter in-law, a senior campaign adviser and the chair of the North Carolina Republican Party atop of the committee that exists to help elect Republicans up and down the ballot. Haley has accused Trump of trying to turn the national party into a campaign "slush fund" amid the contested presidential primary.

Haley has yet to win a single contest in the Republican race and is counting on a competitive showing on Super Tuesday to remain a candidate.

She has been sending mixed messages about what she will do if she drops out. The former ambassador to the United Nations asserted that her campaign was not "anti-Trump" at a roundtable with reporters on Friday, only to declare in an NBC News interview that was taped the same day that she no longer feels compelled to support the Republican nominee if its not her.

Haley told reporters on Friday morning that her campaign was about a movement to return to Republican ideals such as fiscal discipline and a push toward a younger generation of conservative leadership.

"I'm not anti-Trump," Haley said during the press roundtable, which included reporters from USA TODAY. "This is about the fact that I think America is better than this. And I think that the Republican Party is better than this, and I think we can do more than this."

But asked directly by "Meet the Press" host Kristen Welker if she has taken the possibility of endorsing him off the table, Haley said, "It's not anything I think about."

"If you talk about an endorsement, you're talking about a loss. I don't think like that," she said. "When you're in a race, you don't think about losing. You think about continuing to go forward. What I can tell you is I don't think Donald Trump or Joe Biden should be president."

Haley repeatedly dodged the question of whether she would endorse Trump in the interview and would not say whether she believes he is responsible for the Jan. 6 insurrection that was carried by his supporters after he urged them to march to Capitol.

"I think he should have said something earlier. I think he should have stopped it when it started," Haley said.

She said she remains focused on her presidential campaign and winning a series of contests that will take place on March 5.

"While you all think about that, I'm looking at the fact that we had thousands of people in Virginia, we're headed to North Carolina, we're going to continue to go to Vermont, and Maine, and all these states to go and show people that there is a path forward," she said.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Nikki Haley walks back pledge to support GOP nominee if it is Trump