Asked Wednesday if she would support presidential front-runner Donald Trump as the GOP’s nominee, S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley said she doesn’t need to back the New York billionaire at the moment.

“I don’t think Donald Trump is going to be the nominee,” Haley told reporters. “Right now, I’m an optimist. I believe in the people of this country. I believe in the fact we’re going to have a good nominee that we all can be proud of.”

Haley said she plans to stick with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. The Florida Republican has won only one of the first 15 contests and trails Trump in polls for races through March 15, including the Sunshine State. Rubio is third in the GOP delegate count.

“Marco is going to have to fight really hard through the 15th,” Haley said. “He’s got to put everything out there.”

Haley, who has sparred with Trump during the campaign, took him to task again Wednesday over his argument that he cannot release his income-tax returns because he’s being audited.

“As an accountant, that is not something I have ever heard of,” said Haley, an accounting major in college who worked for a Charlotte firm and her parents’ clothing store.

Haley was asked why she wants Trump to release his tax returns when she said similar demands of 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney were a “political ploy.”

The Lexington Republican did not answer the question directly. But, she noted, Romney did not file for bankruptcy like Trump did with four of his companies.

“If that is not enough, we didn’t have a candidate who claims to be worth a certain amount of money and for some reason is not showing us his tax returns because we don’t think he’s worth as much as he says he is,” Haley said.

Trump tweeted Tuesday that, “The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley!” after his campaign posted a video of her comments about calls for Romney to release his returns.

Haley tweeted back 20 minutes later: “@realDonaldTrump, Bless your heart.”


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