Nikki Haley says she may not back Donald Trump in US presidential election

Defeated Republican candidates Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Tim Scott and Doug Burgum have all thrown their weight behind Mr Trump.

Thus far only Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor and fiercest Trump critic, has refused to do so.

Ms Haley’s potential refusal to support Mr Trump could cost him among women voters and moderate Republicans in November, where polls show the former president is most vulnerable.

Ms Haley has secured the backing of Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins of Maine, two prominent centrist female Republican senators.

Haley supporters were booed and jeered

The extent of the ill-feeling between Ms Haley and Mr Trump was laid bare in the wake of the former president’s crushing victories last week in the Missouri and Idaho caucuses and the Michigan nominating convention.

Her campaign attributed the defeat in Missouri to voter intimidation which saw her supporters being booed and jeered.

The Haley campaign said in a statement: “Reports out of the Missouri caucus today show how the Republican Party under Donald Trump has become a shrinking party that bullies and rejects anyone who doesn’t take the MAGA oath of allegiance.”

Despite the rift within the Republican ranks, the latest polls are encouraging for Mr Trump and grim reading for Joe Biden.

Not only does Mr Trump have a five-point lead, but the poll shows that even Biden supporters in 2020 believe the 81-year-old president is too old to serve another term.

According to the New York Times/Siena College poll, 61 per cent of 2020 Biden supporters agreed he was “just too old” to return to the White House.

Among voters as a whole, the poll showed that 73 per cent believed he was too old to be an effective president.

By contrast, 42 per cent of registered voters felt 77-year-old Mr Trump was too old to serve another term.

Nevertheless, Mr Trump has also shown signs of mental confusion in recent months.

On Saturday night at a rally in Virginia, he appeared to believe that Barack Obama was still president for the third time in six months.

“Putin has so little respect for Obama that he’s starting to throw around the nuclear word,” he said.

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