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He is once again one step further: Donald Trump has clearly won the race for the Republican presidential nomination in the US state of South Carolina.

Around 60 percent of party supporters here cast their vote for Trump, compared to 40 percent for his last remaining competitor Nikki Haley - former US ambassador to the United Nations and governor of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017.

And yet in the end she was clearly behind Trump.

Roland Nelles, SPIEGEL correspondent:

“This is his classic electorate in South Carolina.

These are a lot of white people, a lot of working class people, people without college degrees, so without a university degree.

These are the voters who primarily support Trump.

And there are a lot of them in South Carolina, which is why he is successful here.”

Despite Trump's seemingly unstoppable triumph: Nikki Haley doesn't want to give up.

Roland Nelles, SPIEGEL correspondent:

“Everyone is a bit puzzled as to why this is the case.

I think there are several reasons.

She is someone who is not easily defeated.

She also repeatedly points out that in her earlier political career she was in races where everyone said: She would never win.

And then she would have won in the end.

I think in this case that might be a bit too much optimism.

One reason she wants to move on might be that she's essentially preparing for the post-Trump era.

So she wants to be the one who, when Trump leaves office at some point, can pick up the pieces and then say: See?

The Trump experiment was a huge disaster, I told you.”

Nikki Haley, Republican presidential candidate:

“What he said was incredible.

He said: Not only would he not defend our allies, but he would actually encourage Putin to invade our allies.

Think about what that means.

Putin is being encouraged to invade our allies.

That means Trump is standing by a racket that left half a million people dead or injured because Putin invaded Ukraine.

Trump is on the side of a dictator who kills his political opponents.

Haley may also be betting that Trump will be thrown out of the race before the official nomination party conference in July.

Roland Nelles, SPIEGEL correspondent:

»So that he will practically end up in prison because of one of his criminal proceedings or that he will be out in some other way and that she can then practically step in as Plan B, as a replacement candidate and then be the one against Joe Biden is running as an emergency candidate for the Republicans.”

But Trump makes no move to stop; on the contrary, he appears unassailable, despite all the proceedings against him.

Roland Nelles, SPIEGEL correspondent:

»When it comes to his legal proceedings, his lawyers have so far been quite successful in delaying all possible decisions that could possibly come up until sometime after the election.

And so far he’s been pretty successful at it.”

None of this affects his supporters anyway.

Trump supporter:

“Trump is too smart for these people!

He's miles ahead of them, he'll get out of this unscathed and they'll drop all charges."

Trump supporter:

"As always, he will come out of this brilliantly and win."

Trump supporter:

"I think you can still be president even in prison."

Roland Nelles, SPIEGEL correspondent:

"It's always amazing to see in areas like South Carolina here in the south of the USA how great the enthusiasm for Trump among supporters here still is.

There are flags everywhere, Trump flags.

And it's really like a cult or a fan movement.

People don't talk about politics that much; it's actually more like a folk festival here, every Trump event.

The only one who is allowed to talk is he, who always sets the tone and everyone else basically parrots what he says.

Donald Trump, former US President:

“Hello, South Carolina!

Great to be back in this incredible, beautiful state with thousands of proud, hard-working, God-fearing American Patriots!

That’s you!”

Roland Nelles, SPIEGEL correspondent:

»Trump already feels like the big winner anyway.

So he also expects Nikki Haley to give up now.

This is also very unpleasant, partly because of how Nikki Haley is being attacked here by her party friends and party friends from the Trump camp.

It's really below the belt what Trump and his people are doing here.

So this Republican Party is really a complete disaster, it has to be said.

“It’s all focused on Trump and anyone who criticizes him is immediately put down.”