Haley camp seeks to convince top donors that Trump would cost GOP the House

February 1, 2024

Nikki Haley’s campaign manager warned influential donors on Tuesday, January 30, that the GOP would lose control of the U.S. House of Representatives if Donald Trump were the party’s presidential nominee—leaning into concerns about down-ballot races as some anti-Trump Republicans view the fight over Congress as a better investment than the presidential race, reports The Washington Post.

Speaking to the same group behind closed doors, one of Trump’s top advisers delivered a data-heavy presentation about why Republican financiers should get on board as he barrels toward the nomination—charting out how he could win enough delegates to clinch the nomination early this spring.

Susie Wiles, who gave the presentation in Palm Beach, Florida, on Tuesday, and other top Trump advisers have argued that Haley has no path forward and that money spent to elevate her diverts resources that could be used to beat President Joe Biden in the general election.

The dueling presentations, which were described by people with knowledge of the remarks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private comments, reflected the starkly contrasting positions the final two Republican White House hopefuls are in after the first two nominating contests.

Trump is in a commanding position and looking to further consolidate his power after a pair of dominating wins, with many party leaders seeing him as the presumptive nominee. Haley, fighting for her political survival with a path to victory that has all but closed in the eyes of many strategists, has ramped up her attacks on Trump, trying different lines of attack aimed at raising doubts about how he would fare in November. She faces long odds—even in her home state of South Carolina, where she’s now focusing.

Top advisers to Haley and Trump made their cases to members of the American Opportunity Alliance (AOA), which includes some of the GOP’s most influential donors. Last fall, the group summoned representatives of Haley and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R)—then seen as Trump’s most formidable opponent—to map out their strategies and how they intended to defeat Trump. But DeSantis is out of the race, and Haley’s team is trying to convince donors that they still have a path, as many Republicans rally behind Trump and turn toward the general election.

On Tuesday in Palm Beach, Haley’s campaign manager Betsy Ankney argued that Trump would lead the GOP to further losses and hurt the rest of the 2024 ticket, according to people familiar with the presentation. Beyond the House, Ankney stressed the importance of maximizing GOP gains in the Senate in 2024, while Democrats are defending many seats, because the map will get much tougher in subsequent years, one person said.

One person familiar with the Haley campaign presentation said Ankney recapped a week in which Trump lashed out at Haley—devoting much of his New Hampshire victory speech to criticizing her—then, suffered a major legal blow, ordered by a jury to pay more than $83 million for defamation.

A spokesman for Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a campaign memo earlier this week, Trump advisers Chris LaCivita and Wiles argued that Haley and her allies “are aiding and abetting Joe Biden by staying in the race.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost