ROCHESTER, N.H. – She traded fire for weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, her Republican presidential rival.
But now that the 2024 GOP nomination race has shifted to New Hampshire, Nikki Haley says that former President Donald Trump “is the one I want. Trump is the one I’m going for.”
Haley was edged by DeSantis for a distant second place to the former president in Monday night’s caucuses in Iowa. Trump – the commanding front-runner in the Republican race as he makes his third straight White House run – grabbed 51% of the vote in Iowa as he obliterated the previous margin of victory in a GOP presidential caucus.
But the latest polls in New Hampshire – which votes second overall in the Republican schedule and holds the first primary next Tuesday – indicate Haley is competitive with Trump while DeSantis is a distant third in single digits.
DESANTIS CAMPAIGNS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, BUT MOST OF HIS STAFF DECAMPS IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DeSantis, speaking to voters Wednesday afternoon in Hampton, New Hampshire, pointed to the caucus results and emphasized “I finished second. She didn’t, I mean, that’s just the reality, you know. So I don’t know how they’re going to spin that.”
Pushing back, Haley touted her Iowa finish.
“We started at two percent. We ended at 20,” she noted in a Fox News interview ahead of a campaign event at an American Legion post in Rochester, New Hampshire. “If anybody doesn’t see the momentum in that, then that’s their problem. It’s not mine. But we’re going to continue to go further. We’re way above 30% here.”
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Haley, a former two-term South Carolina governor who later served as U.N. ambassador in the Trump administration, has repeatedly said this week that it’s a two-person race going forward with Trump.
“Ron is invisible in New Hampshire and South Carolina. Everybody can see that,” Haley argued.
The latest polling in South Carolina, which holds the first southern primary on Feb. 24, indicates Trump with a large double-digit lead over Haley, with DeSantis a distant third in single digits.
TRUMP, HALEY, TURN UP VOLUME ON EACH OTHER AS GOP PRESIDENTIAL SLUGFEST MOVES TO NEW HAMPSHIRE
“He’s closer to zero than he is to me in either of these states,” Haley said of DeSantis. “So it’s more about his survival. We’re strong. It’s a two-person race here in New Hampshire. It’s a two-person race in South Carolina. So, we’re focused on Trump.”
And looking to the former president, Haley said “you see how close it is with both of us in New Hampshire. Same in South Carolina. We’re going to try to make it closer. That’s the goal. So it’s Trump we’re going after.”
While Haley was finishing up her campaign event in Rochester, Trump was getting ready to take the stage at a rally in nearby Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
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The former president took numerous shots at Haley, claiming that she’ll “never secure the border” and that she “wants to gut Medicare and Social Security.”
A day earlier, Trump charged at a rally in Atkinson, New Hampshire that Haley “was not great” as U.N. ambassador and argued that she wasn’t “tough enough” in dealing with adversaries.
Haley, speaking to the crowd in Rochester, accused Trump of lying about her and said that “he honestly thinks if he says something, it comes true.”
She told Fox News that Trump “knows we’re a threat” and is “throwing temper tantrums.”
And Haley’s campaign posted a video stocked with past clips of Trump praising her.
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