Nikki Haley says she’s suspending her presidential campaign. What does that mean?

Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley walks off after speaking during a news conference, Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in Charleston, S.C., as her son, Nalin Haley, left, looks on and applauds. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

WASHINGTON (AP) — When Nikki Haley said she would withdraw from the 2024 presidential race following her underwhelming showing on Super Tuesday, she did so using a phrase that would seem at odds with the finality of her announcement.

The former South Carolina governor and former U.N. ambassador said she was suspending her campaign. Not ending, not concluding, not terminating — suspending.

“I am filled with gratitude for the outpouring of support we’ve received from across our great country,” she said. “But the time has now come to suspend my campaign.”

Haley is hardly the first candidate to reach for the term. There are a number of reasons candidates do so. And one of the big ones has a lot to do with money.

Under federal election law, a candidate who has filed to run for office technically remains one until after the election. But by declaring that they are “suspending” a campaign, a candidate is signaling to donors — both to their loyal supporters as well as those who are backing their rivals — that they are shifting to the next phase. After a spirited campaign, that often includes the need to retire outstanding debts.

But the use of the term “suspend” also adheres to one of the longstanding axioms of politics: Never close a door, never rule anything out.

This year, especially, there may be good reason for invoking the phrase as Donald Trump, the sole remaining Republican contender, navigates 91 criminal charges against him.

Should Trump be convicted, Haley could just as easily “unsuspend” her campaign.

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