Few actually think her resurgence is anything but a hope and prayer Donald Trump would somehow self destruct before the July convention…..
Two years after Nikki Haley vowed not to challenge Donald Trump for the presidential nomination, the former South Carolina governor who served in his administration and once called him a “friend” is becoming the standard-bearer of the movement to knock him out.
In recent weeks, Haley has drawn a surge in support from Trump-skeptical Republicans across the GOP, including donors and organizers in early voting states. A group of former Tim Scott donors is preparing to host a fundraiser for her in Manhattan. Haley’s campaign events in New Hampshire this week required overflow rooms. And in Iowa — where Haley has steeper competition from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — some conservatives are busy corralling support for her.
“Nikki Haley is certainly locking up a lot of the Never Trumpers,” said Matthew Bartlett, a Republican operative who has worked on several presidential campaigns and is unaffiliated this cycle. “She also has real room to grow.”
Still, Haley is running far behind the former president. And in a party he continues to dominate, consolidating the anti-Trump vote is likely to get Haley only so far. In a still-crowded primary, Haley is in some ways the latest manifestation of the challenge confronting all of them: Run hard against Trump, and turn off those who stick by his side. Support him and lose those desperate for a different choice next year….
“It’s a lot of the old-school Republicans who did not like Trump, but voted for him the first time with their fingers crossed, and then refused to vote for him a second time,” Sarah Longwell, an anti-Trump Republican who routinely conducts focus groups of GOP voters, said of Haley’s sweet spot in the primary electorate.
But that is still not where most of the Republican electorate is.
“I do think that most people seem aware that her path is an extraordinarily narrow one,” Longwell said. “I mean, extraordinarily narrow.”
Haley is trying to widen that path by appealing to both the MAGA base and the rest of the Republican Party, as well as to its far-right conservatives and more moderate voters….
image….Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks during a town hall on Nov. 17, 2023, in Ankeny, Iowa. | Charlie Neibergall/AP