SEABROOK, NH — Since the Iowa caucuses, Nikki Haley has tried to frame the Republican presidential race. one-on-one combat between him and Donald Trump.
On Sunday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made it official for Haley, who appeared visibly energized as she delivered the news of the speech at a campaign stop — though the question of how much it will help her hangs over the waning primary campaign.
“Boy, things are changing fast,” Haley, a former UN ambassador, said at the Brown Lobster Pound.
“We just heard that Ron DeSantis is out of the race,” she continued, to loud cheers from diners and volunteers. “I want to say to Ron, he ran a great race. He’s been a good governor and we wish him the best of luck. Having said that, it’s down to one guy and one lady.”
He then added: “May the best woman win.”
There is a sense of energy inside the Haley campaign over news of DeSantis’ release, though officials there don’t think it will make much of a difference when it comes to numbers, pointing to public polls that show DeSantis in the single digits. in both South Carolina and New Hampshire. In that sense, they believe, that’s why it was a two-man race before DeSantis dropped out.
“It’s a push,” said one person familiar with the campaign’s thinking, arguing that it proves Haley is an outsider.
Regardless of whether DeSantis supports Trump, the Haley campaign believes her voters will be split between her and the former president. What’s more, they see it as a clarion call to voters unenthusiastic about a Trump-Joe Biden rematch that it’s time to go after former South Carolina governor Haley.
Rick Wiley, Haley’s advisor, he tweetedAs news broke of DeSantis stepping aside, “Utter humiliation.”
Other advisers never considered the possibility that DeSantis would support Haley. Unlike South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott’s endorsement of Trump, the moment felt less weighty and betrayal.
New Hampshire has ever been the earliest state Favorable for Haley’s candidacy, but Trump still holding double-digit leads In the most recent GOP primary polls. Although he leads among independent voters allowed to participate in the state’s open primaries, polls show Trump has a wider lead among registered Republicans and an overall lead.
DeSantis, meanwhile, barely registered in the most recent New Hampshire polls, consistently appearing in the mid-single digits. The sample sizes were small, but DeSantis supporters chose Trump more than Haley as their second choice in both of the most recent elections. University of New Hampshire/CNN survey and With Suffolk University tracking questionnaire TThe Boston Globe and NBC Boston.
Still, Haley’s supporters see DeSantis’ exit as a sign that she is strengthening her candidacy.
Representative Chris Wooten of South Carolina, a Haley supporter, said he believed DeSantis “realized he couldn’t beat her.”
“It’s such a boost for Nikki,” she said. “He predicted it two weeks ago and now he has an incredible opportunity with all the distractions out of the race.”
Sen. Tom Davis of South Carolina, another supporter, said the new one-on-one contest would give Haley a better chance to compare herself to Trump, adding that the South Carolina primary will now serve as a “referendum” on what the Republican Party will do. to go forward.
“Does the party want to look ahead and address the issues that seriously need to be addressed — reducing the debt and deficits, making Social Security solvent, fixing the porous southern border? Those are the things Nikki Haley is focused on,” Davis said. “Or does it want to be a party that looks back and settles for perceived past grievances, seeking ‘revenge’? These are the things Donald Trump is emphasizing.”
But while the development gave Haley a boost heading into Tuesday’s primary, some New Hampshire Republicans and other political observers offered a bleak forecast.
“I really think Haley’s only chance is if the undeclared independents show up in droves on Tuesday. If they don’t, she’ll be killed,” said New Hampshire Republican Sean Van Anglen, who has opposed Trump and said he likely will. Vote for Haley. “That’s really his only hope. If he loses New Hampshire, it’s over. Unfortunately, it looks like he’s going to lose.”
A Trump-friendly operative weighed in on what DeSantis’ speech meant, or rather, didn’t mean, for Haley.
“He’s going to lose,” said this man. “Many.”
Terry Sullivan, Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidency In 2016, a campaign manager said DeSantis’ departure made little difference to how the primary campaign would play out.
“The primary election for the republic has ended. “It’s been a while. Ron DeSantis figured it out now. I guess it’ll take a few days for Nikki Haley to do it, too. She won’t even be able to go to South Carolina.”