Former President Donald Trump and Republican presidential nomination rival Nikki Haley – and their allies – traded plenty of fire in the closing days leading up to Iowa’s caucuses.
But the verbal crossfire is just an appetizer of things to come as the two candidates resume their battle in New Hampshire ahead of next week’s primary.
Trump, celebrating his landslide victory in Iowa, where he shattered the previous winning margin in a GOP caucus and topped 50% of the vote, complimented Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in his victory speech.
“I think they both actually did very well,” Trump said Monday night in Des Moines. “They are very smart people, very capable people.”
IOWA’S OVER – NOW THE GOP PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY FIGHT TURNS TO NEW HAMPSHIRE
But behind the scenes, multiple sources in the former president’s political orbit confirmed to Fox News that Team Trump is preparing to launch broadsides against Haley, the former two-term South Carolina governor who served as U.N. ambassador during the Trump administration.
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New ads on social media are expected, as first reported by NBC News. Also in the works – direct verbal attacks from the former president, who on Monday charged Haley was “a Globalist RINO” who “can never win in the General Election because she doesn’t have MAGA, and never will!”
Trump, who is the commanding frontrunner for the GOP nomination as he makes his third straight White House run, and his allies for months took aim at DeSantis, who was the clear alternative to the former president for much of last year.
But as Haley gained momentum and caught up with DeSantis in polls for a distant second behind the former president, Trump world started turning its attention to her.
The campaign launched TV ads last month putting Haley in its sights.
Also joining in was MAGA Inc., the Trump-aligned super PAC that has been targeting Haley in recent weeks with TV ads, including one that’s running on New Hampshire airwaves this week that blasts her over the combustible issue of immigration and border security.
On Tuesday, Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller charged in a statement that “Nikki Haley is a fictional character who isn’t ready for the bright lights or the big stage. As folks learn of Haley’s Romneyesque, open border and tax-raising globalist RINO ways, the less likely they are to be supportive.”
And Karoline Leavitt, a Trump White House veteran and former congressional candidate who came onboard the 2024 campaign this week as a national spokeswoman, argued that Haley “is a tax-raising, open borders globalist who would put China first and America last.”
Haley came in third in Iowa, slightly behind DeSantis. But she’s leagues ahead of DeSantis and narrowing the polling gap with Trump in New Hampshire, a purple state where independent voters play a crucial role in the state’s storied presidential primary.
Haley and her campaign are framing the contest in New Hampshire as a two-candidate race between her and Trump.
“Nikki Haley and Donald Trump are in a dead heat in New Hampshire,” Haley campaign spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas emphasized in a statement to Fox News.
She noted that Trump is “going to attack her with everything he’s got, and we’re ready for it.”
Those comments are seen as a sign that Haley world is ready to return fire with a counteroffensive against Trump.
Haley herself is turning up the volume, comparing Trump to President Biden in her Iowa caucus night speech on Monday.
“Trump and Biden both lack a vision for our country’s future, because both are consumed by the past, by investigations, by vendetta, by grievances,” she claimed.
And Haley is also getting on-air support from the aligned Stand for America PAC, which is targeting Trump with TV ads in New Hampshire, including one spot that charges the former president’s entire 2024 campaign is “based on revenge.”
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Haley spent much of her time in Iowa taking aim at DeSantis, as they battled for second place. But with the Florida governor in the single digits in New Hampshire, she’s increasingly turning her attention to Trump.
And time is at a premium. If Trump convincingly wins next week’s primary in New Hampshire, many pundits argue it would be game over for Haley and DeSantis.
Veteran Iowa-based Republican strategist Jimmy Centers noted that Trump’s landslide victory in Iowa “speaks to his grip on the party.”
And he emphasized that “if any other candidate wants a shot at slowing him down in this race for the nomination, they need very quick field consolidation. And someone needs to stop him in New Hampshire.”
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