Posts tagged with "Nikki Haley"

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

Trump’s ‘Achilles’ heel’? Haley’s refusal to drop out infuriates ex-president.

January 31, 2024

it was a moment for Donald Trump to be gracious, magnanimous—perhaps, even presidential. Instead he lashed out at his opponent’s clothes. “When I watched her in the fancy dress that probably wasn’t so fancy, I said, ‘What’s she doing? We won,’” he said of rival Nikki Haley in New Hampshire on Tuesday night, January 23, reports The Guardian.

Trump had just won the first primary election of 2024 and all but clinched the Republican nomination for U.S. president. Party leaders and campaign surrogates are now eager to banish Haley to irrelevance, move on from the primary, and unify against Democrats. They want Trump to pivot to an almost inevitable rematch with Democrat Joe Biden in November.

Yet the 77-year-old remains consumed with rage over Haley’s unwillingness to quit the race. His petulance offers a reminder of the unhinged behavior that turned off Independent voters in New Hampshire and could prove to be a liability in a head-to-head contest with Biden. It is also at odds with what is an unusually professional and disciplined campaign operation.

Wendy Schiller, a political scientist at Brown University in Rhode Island, said: “Donald Trump wants the race to be over and we see evidence of why that’s important for the Trump campaign from his speech, which was essentially a train wreck and exhibited all the worst tendencies of Donald Trump. It was an undisciplined Trump and this is what turns off independent voters.”

She added: “This is the Achilles’ heel for the Trump campaign and they know it. The sooner this gets wrapped up then he doesn’t have any more of those impromptu late-night speeches. Their worry is not that they’re not going to win the nomination; their worry is the damage that Trump having to respond to Haley will do in the general election with Independent voters.”

Indeed, according to The Guardian, Trump’s investment of emotion and energy in attacking Haley is wildly out of proportion for the minimal threat that Haley poses. He won the Iowa caucuses in a landslide—she was third—and beat her by double digits in New Hampshire. No other Republican candidate in history who won the first two contests has failed to clinch his party’s nomination. His dominance looks set to render the next five months of primaries irrelevant.

Newt Gingrich, a former House of Representatives speaker and ex-presidential candidate, said: “Trump’s best strategy is to assume he is the nominee and go straight at Biden and ignore Haley: Let her flounder around until

However, Haley’s tenacity has enraged Trump. He has branded her “birdbrain”. He has threatened to blacklist anyone who donates to her campaign. He has railed against her frequently on social media, writing: “Could somebody please explain to Nikki that she lost—and lost really badly. She also lost Iowa, BIG, last week. They were, as certain non-fake media say, ‘CRUSHING DEFEATS.’”

The insults and outbursts are a reminder of why Trump alienated moderate voters in the past. While his win in New Hampshire was historic, it also exposed general election vulnerabilities—showing him to be highly popular with Republicans but highly unpopular with Independents, who were allowed to take part in the Republican primary under the state’s rules.

There has never been such a wide gap between the Republican vote and the Independent vote in a New Hampshire Republican primary. According to CNN’s exit polls, Trump won Republican voters by 74% to 25%,; but Haley won Independents 58% to 39%.

Research contact: @guardian

Chris Christie drops out of the 2024 presidential race

January 12, 2024

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced on Wednesday, January 10, that he is getting out of the 2024 presidential campaign—as his main competition for moderate votes in the New Hampshire primary, Nikki Haley, gains on Donald Trump in the state, reports NBC News.

“It’s clear to me tonight that there isn’t a path for me to win the nomination,” Christie told voters at an evening event. “Which is why I’m suspending my campaign for president of the United States.”

“I want to promise you this,” he continued. “I’m going to make sure that in no way do I enable Donald Trump to ever be president of the United States again. And that’s more important than my own personal ambition.”

Christie is not expected to make any endorsement now, said a source familiar with the campaign, who speculated that he may want to wait until after the Iowa caucuses on Monday, January 15, before he makes any announcement to amplify its effect.

A Christie fundraiser said she heard from Christie, himself, that he would be dropping out: “I am very saddened by this. I wanted him to stay in. He did not have discussions with Nikki about this,” the person said.

The decision removes the most high-profile and consistent critic of Trump still in the Republican primary campaign. Christie weathered boos and catcalls at GOP debates when he stuck to his message against the former president.

But Christie’s departure also may boost Haley, who has also selectively criticized Trump and who has been fighting for a similar group of moderate voters in New Hampshire. Haley and Christie have both overperformed among self-described independents in polls ahead of New Hampshire’s January 23 open primary.

Christie had been resisting calls to drop out and make room for Haley to grow her support further in recent days—arguing that she was damaging her candidacy by pandering to different audiences and by refusing to rule out becoming Trump’s running mate.

Christie was caught on a hot mic apparently talking about Haley before his event Wednesday evening, saying: “She’s going to get smoked—you and I both know it. She’s not up to this.” The Christie campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the remark.

It became clear that some anti-Trump Republican primary voters were having trouble sticking with Christie as Haley emerged as the main threat to Trump in New Hampshire.

“My heart wants to vote for Governor Christie, but my brain tells me to vote for Nikki Haley,” New Hampshire Republican Greg Leach, 49,  said Tuesday after having attended a Christie town hall. He said his decision is based on current polling numbers. He said he views Haley as being “within close striking distance of Trump.”

“I want to vote for Christie, but I feel like right now my vote would be wasted and, in a sense, a vote for Trump,” Leach said.

Christie focused most of the effort behind his take-on-Trump strategy in New Hampshire, figuring that more conservative Iowa would not be as receptive to his message among the early-voting states. He did not set foot in Iowa during his campaign.

On town hall stages and during debates, Christie repeatedly spoke out about why he believes it would be dangerous for Trump to be president again—and called out other candidates for not doing the same.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Winners and losers of the first GOP debate, according to ‘The Hill’

August 25, 2023

A stormy Republican clash in Milwaukee on Wednesday night, August 23, kicked off the 2024 presidential debate season—even if the biggest name wasn’t on the stage, reports The Hill.

Former President Trump’s decision not to participate in the Fox News debate at Fiserv Forum overshadowed the event and likely lowered its ratings, the political website opined.

Trump did not entirely cede the spotlight, though, The Hill sad: His conversation with Tucker Carlson went live on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, five minutes before the debate began.

Trump will be back center stage Thursday, when he surrenders to authorities in Georgia, facing his fourth criminal indictment.

The Milwaukee debate gave his rivals a rare opportunity to reach a huge audience without the former president directly intervening or interrupting.

Here are the candidates whom The Hill identifies as the winners and losers from the big night:

WINNERS

Former Vice President Mike Pence: Pence had struggled to qualify for the debate, taking a conspicuously long time to get over the required threshold of donors.

But he was the surprise winner on Wednesday night, with a number of forceful interventions, The Hill said.

He also got an unexpected assist in the shape of a question to all the candidates about his actions on January 6, 2021. Several rivals paid tribute, albeit with varying degrees of enthusiasm, to Pence’s actions certifying the result of the 2020 election and withstanding Trump’s pressure to overturn it.

At other moments, Pence’s fieriness—especially when directed at Vivek Ramaswamy—was the most startling element of the night. Early on, Pence took a clear swipe at the 38-year-old Ramaswamy, saying, “Now is not the time for on-the-job training. We don’t need to bring in a rookie.”

Pence was also effective in reminding anti-abortion voters of his long record on that topic, quoting Biblical scripture to back up his position.

Pence faces enormous challenges in the primary—not least, unfavorable numbers with GOP voters that are higher than almost any other candidate. But Wednesday was the best night of his campaign to date.

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

Christie got in the cleanest shot of the night, soon after Ramaswamy boasted that he was the only candidate on the stage “not bought and paid for.” An exasperated Christie jabbed back, “I’ve had enough already tonight of a guy who sounds like ChatGPT.”

With that line, Christie may have found the weak spot in Ramaswamy’s armor, just as he did when he attacked Florida Senator Marco Rubio in a similar debate almost eight years ago.

Christie also emphasized his differences with Trump, of course. He is the most aggressively anti-Trump candidate in the race—a fact which, by itself, almost certainly dooms him to defeat.

Speaking of Trump’s multiple indictments, Christie said that whether people believed the former president’s actions were criminal or not, “Someone has got to stop normalizing this conduct, OK?”

A huge swath of the GOP base will hate what Christie had to say. But in terms of debating skill, his was probably the most impressive performance on the stage.

Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley

Perceptions of debates can often be determined by memorable moments. By that standard, Haley had a good night.

She staked out different ground than her rivals on abortion—expressing skepticism about a federal ban at an early stage of pregnancy and about the role of Supreme Court justices in deciding “something this personal.”

She starkly branded Trump “the most disliked politician in America” to make the argument that the GOP cannot win with him as its standard bearer.

ut her single biggest moment came in a blast at Ramaswamy over the entrepreneur’s deep skepticism about funding for Ukraine.

Referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin, she told Ramaswamy, “This guy is a murderer, and you are choosing a murderer over a pro-American country.”

When Ramaswamy tried to defend himself, Haley poured more pressure on: “You have no foreign policy experience — and it shows,” she told him.

MIXED

Vivek Ramaswamy

It seems near-certain that Ramaswamy is the candidate whose performance will most divide opinion.

According to a report by Fox News, Ramaswamy introduced himself as a “skinny guy with a funny last name” after receiving his first question from moderator Bret Baier in Milwaukee on Wednesday. The phrase echoed Obama’s own choice of words when he introduced himself to the country while delivering the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004.

“So, first let me just address a question that’s on everybody’s mind at home tonight Who the heck is this skinny guy with a funny last name and what the heck is he doing in the middle of this debate stage?” Ramaswamy joked, echoing Obama almost word-for-word.

Despite that, it’s easy to see why his supporters could make the case that he shone, The Hill noted. He’s clearly different, he withstood some heavy verbal blows and he offers a candidacy uniquely in step with the sensibilities of a new, younger generation.

The degree to which Ramaswamy was targeted by other candidates is also a backhanded compliment to the threat he poses.

But the entrepreneur also seemed shallow at times, especially on Ukraine and in his craven promise to pardon Trump of any convictions if elected president.

There is also a question mark around his overall demeanor. The traits that his fans see as confidence and clarity can just as easily read as self-satisfaction and glibness.

Ramaswamy might get a polling boost simply from being able to introduce himself to such a large audience.

But his weaknesses were badly exposed as well.

LOSERS

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

DeSantis arrived in Milwaukee needing a big night. He didn’t get it. It wasn’t that the Florida governor made any obvious gaffes. But he didn’t have any great moments either and; more importantly, he didn’t impose himself on the debate at any point.

For long stretches, DeSantis faded into the background of the debate.That is a big problem, since his whole campaign is predicated on being the sole alternative to Trump.

DeSantis’s campaign has been trending downward since its beginning and there was no real reason to believe that Wednesday night’s performance, which often sounded over-rehearsed, changed that.

Senator Tim Scott (South Carolina)

The Republican field already has an identifiable second tier behind Trump, DeSantis, and the rising Ramaswamy. It comprises Pence, Haley, and Scott.

Scott had the least impressive night of the trio. The South Carolina senator is well-liked by many Republicans but his low-key affability isn’t ideal for contentious debate nights.

Scott tried to stay above the fray, at one point intervening in a Christie-Ramaswamy verbal tussle to insist: “Going back and forth being childish is not helpful to the American people.”

But for the most part, Scott simply lacked impact.

He was also eclipsed by Haley, which is dangerous for him. Given their similarities—including a shared, electorally crucial home-state—there likely isn’t enough room for both candidates to thrive in the long run.

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson

It was always going to be a tough night for the two lowest-polling candidates, stuck on the farthest edges of the stage, reports The Hill. Neither got a breakout moment.

The greatest excitement relating to Burgum was whether he would make the stage at all, having suffered a basketball injury earlier in the day that required a hospital visit.

Hutchinson made his usual Trump criticisms— even saying that the 14th Amendment may bar the former president from running again, given its injunction against anyone holding office who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion.”

He was met with boos for those remarks.

Still, the biggest question Burgum and Hutchinson face is how to make themselves relevant. Neither found the answer Wednesday, contends The Hill.

 Research contact: @thehill

Republicans set presidential debate rules that could exclude some candidates

June  6, 2023

The Republican National Committee will require presidential candidates to attract 40,000 individual campaign donors and the support of at least 1% of voters in multiple national polls to qualify for the first 2024 presidential debate with Fox News in Milwaukee this August, according to four people briefed on the plans, reports The Washington Post.

The filter, which also requires candidates to pledge support for the party’s eventual nominee, is stricter than similar rules Democrats adopted to set their own first debate stage in 2019, when 20 candidates met over two nights. Democrats allowed candidates to qualify either by meeting a 65,000-donor threshold or by getting 1% in at least three early state or national polls.

Republicans, by contrast, will require both a donor and a polling standard. The polling standard requires a candidate to be at 1% nationally in multiple polls that are deemed credible by the RNC.

“Debates are not a vanity project but a critical opportunity to find the next President of the United States. If you can’t find 40,000 unique donors to give you a dollar and at least 1% of the primary electorate to support you, how can you expect to defeat Joe Biden?” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement.

The rules could be challenging for the less-well-known candidates, including former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson and California talk radio host Larry Elder, who have not been listed by name in some national polls.

The RealClearPolitics average of national polls currently lists six candidates as polling above 1% in national surveys: former president Donald Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, former vice president Mike Pence, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and Senator Tim Scott (South Carolina).

Other current or potential candidates, including New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie; as well as Elder and Hutchinson, average 1% or less.

Some candidates are concerned that the rules could sideline their campaigns at the starting gate. The first Republican debates of the 2016 campaign season included 17 candidates in two different events.

“It seems that the RNC is going out of its way to purposely narrow the field at one of the earliest times in the party’s history,” said a Republican consultant working for one of the presidential candidates who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. “And rather than finding a way for as many conservative voices to be heard by Republicans throughout the country, they are attempting to make this a two-man race.”

Republicans familiar with the process said they are seeking a standard that is not too high—but that also keeps the event from becoming a circus. The donor standard will rise for subsequent debates. RNC officials have argued that the national media, which has been covering the back-and-forth between Trump and DeSantis, is to blame for any impression that the nomination fight had become a two-person race.

Trump, as the polling leader, has suggested he may skip the early Republican debates. He has also said he will not pledge to support the eventual nominee no matter who the party selects. His team has been in negotiations with the party over debates, The Washington Post has reported.

Trump benefited from a large field of Republican competitors during the 2016 primaries, and he has recently praised some of his rivals, including Ramaswamy and Scott, as his campaign aides hope to keep opposition to his candidacy divided. DeSantis’s team, meanwhile, has made clear the Florida governor sees the race as a two-person contest.

Ramaswamy, a first-time candidate who has attracted support in early events, said his campaign already has the donors it needs to make the first debate stage. “We cruised past that a while ago. That’s in the rearview mirror,” he said during a recent interview.

Several more candidates, including Pence, Christie and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, are expected to formally join the Republican nomination race in coming weeks.

Burgum, a former businessman with significant wealth who is not well known outside his state, said he “absolutely” will be able to meet the donor threshold, despite his plans to self-fund a portion of his campaign. Asked whether he could clear the 1% polling threshold, he said, “Yes.”

“There is some idea that this is going to be a completely self-funded thing. That’s completely false,” Burgum said in a recent interview. “I’ll invest in myself because I believe in myself.”

Advisers to Christie, Hutchinson, Sununu and Elder either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

The RNC also will require debate participants to sign data-sharing and fundraising agreements with the national party, and to pledge not to participate in any unsanctioned debates.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Trump pledges to get revenge on Ron DeSantis’s backers

March 3, 2023

Several former supporters of ex-President Donald Trump attended a donor retreat hosted by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over the last weekend in February and—after learning who was in attendance—Trump has promised retribution, reports Newsweek.

The former president launched his third run for the White House last November; and many 2024 polls suggest his main rival for the Republican nomination is DeSantis, who has yet to reveal his plans. In most polls, Trump ranks above potential opponents—including DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence; and Nikki Haley, who announced her bid in February.

The DeSantis donor event took place in Palm Beach, just a few miles from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort where the former president held his own gathering on Thursday, February 23, according to CBS News.

The guests at the DeSantis gathering included Roy Bailey, who was national co-chair of Trump’s fundraising effort with the Republican National Committee in 2020,; and Mick Mulvaney, who served as Trump’s White House chief of staff for 14 months.

However, the name on the guest list that most seemed to perturb Trump was David McIntosh. The former U.S. representative is now the president of the Club for Growth, a conservative nonprofit that advocates for tax cuts. The organization opposed Trump’s campaign for the Republican nomination in 2016.

Trump singled out McIntosh in a post on Truth Social late on Tuesday night, February 28, aiming jabs at the former lawmaker and his advocacy group.

“Failed former Congressman David McIntosh and his Globalist friends at Club for No Growth, who fought me all the way in 2016, and LOST, and then fought me again in 2020 Senate Races in Ohio, Alabama, North Carolina, New Hampshire, plus more, and LOST AGAIN, are now threatening to spend money against me early because their new boy, Ron DeSanctus, the man who wants to cut Social Security and MediCare, has dropped so drastically in the Polls to me,” he wrote. “No Growth Members know there will be RETRIBUTION!!!”

Some Republican  have voiced concern over Trump becoming the GOP nominee in 2024—suggesting that the former president is a distraction and more divisive than other primary candidates.

Lori Davis, who worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign in New Hampshire, said his critical and judgmental approach had turned some supporters against him. “I like Donald Trump. But he has gone too far polarizing. It’s going to be an uphill battle for him in this primary because of his divisiveness. People are tired of the drama,” Davis said.

“I’m seeing that people want DeSantis. He has a lot of the Trump philosophy, but is not as bombastic,; he’s not attacking people 24/7. People are tired of that. It gives them headaches.”

However, poll tracker FiveThirtyEight still shows Trump leading DeSantis in the race for the 2024 Republican nomination. In a compilation that includes research by YouGov, Emerson College, Morning Consult, and Echelon Insights, Trump is in front of DeSantis in every head-to-head, sometimes by as many as 30 percentage points.

Research contact: @Newsweek

Haley plans to announce presidential run, as GOP race starts slowly

February 2, 2023

Nikki Haley, a former United Nations ambassador and governor of South Carolina, is planning to announce that she will run for president—positioning herself to be the first declared Republican challenger to Donald Trump at a time when other prospective candidates have sput the brakes on their moves, reports The Washington Post.

Haley could release a video signaling her decision as soon as this week, a strategy—as described by multiple people briefed on the plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity—intended to drive attendance and enthusiasm for an in-person announcement event in the coming weeks.

She plans to officially announce her run in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 15, according to one person briefed on the plans—a date first reported by the Post and Courier newspaper in that city. Some political advisers have been relocating to the Charleston area for the campaign.

Haley’s decision to lean into the race bucks the more cautious strategy adopted by most other potential candidates, who have decided there is no need to rush their preparations. Advisers to these Republicans, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations, said there is wariness about becoming an early target of former President Trump.

Some of the advisers also voiced hope that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), who has made preliminary moves toward a run, faces early scrutiny because of his high national polling—scrutiny that could work to their advantage. They added that there is a general sense in their circles that there is enough time to learn more about how the race will play out and still attract donors, get on ballots, and build campaign infrastructure.

“There’s no benefit to being in early,” said David Urban, a former Trump adviser who is friendly with multiple would-be 2024 candidates. “You don’t want to be in the ring getting banged on by the former president in a one-on-one. There’s no reason anyone has to get in right now. There’s no urgency for anyone. Everyone is sitting and waiting.”

Much of the consequential action in the race so far has taken place in private conversations and strategy sessions rather than early-state barnstorms, such as methodical preparation by aides to former Vice President Mike Pence, and DeSantis advisers’ behind-the-scenes moves to identify potential staff and plan travel.

Even Trump has moved slowly after his early announcement. The former president hit the trail this past weekend for the first time since launching his campaign in November, promising a campaign “about the future” and “about issues” even as he returned to some old grievances — falsely telling Republicans in New Hampshire that he “won two general elections,” a reference to his claims of victory in 2020. Some Republican leaders have urged the party to move on and view the ex-president as politically weakened after disappointing midterms in which Trump’s endorsed candidates lost key races.

There are also Republicans who maintain hope that Trump might simply lose interest in running; they note that he has not filed a personal financial disclosure report, asking for two extensions. But others view Trump as the most likely GOP nominee, pointing to the demonstrated base of support he has built within the party that others have yet to match.

Speaking in New Hampshire and then South Carolina on Saturday, the former president—appearing at smaller-scale events than he typically held in past campaigns—promised a return “soon” to the big rallies he is known for and insisted, “I’m more angry now, and I’m more committed now than I ever was.”

Haley, who served as U.N. ambassador under Trump, said in 2021 that she wouldn’t run for president if Trump did. But she later changed course and during the past few months has been teasing campaign plans. In a recent interview with Fox News, Haley indicated she was moving quickly toward a decision and said there’s a need for “new leadership.”

“And can I be that leader? Yes, I think I can be that leader,” she said. If she won the GOP nomination, Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, would be the first woman and the first Asian American to lead the party’s ticket.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Is Nikki Haley positioning herself to replace Mike Pence on Trump’s 2020 ticket?

November 13, 2019

She is one of the few Trump Administration headliners who has departed while still on good terms with the president. And on her current book tour, Nikki Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations, has characterized the POTUS as “truthful.”

Now, political pundits are asking, does Haley have an agenda? And more specifically, is she angling to replace Mike Pence on the 2020 GOP ticket as vice president?

Less than three months ago, Yahoo News pointed out on November 12, Haley shut down speculation that she was seeking to replace VP Mike Pence.

“Enough of the false rumors,” she tweeted on August 21. “Vice President Pence has been a dear friend of mine for years. He has been a loyal and trustworthy VP to the President. He has my complete support.”

But the speculation has resumed during Haley’s promotional tour for her new book, which some observers—including the hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough—believe is doubling as an audition for the role of Trump’s running mate.

Haley’s book, entitled With All Due Respect: Defending America With Grit and Grace, which was released on Tuesday, November 12, is respectful toward Trump and dismissive of some of his other cabinet members, including former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and ex-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, whom she says tried to recruit her to “save the country” by undermining Trump, Yahoo reports.

She writes, “Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the president, they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country. ‘We are doing the best we can do to save the country,’ they said. We need you to work with us and help us do it.”

Both Kelly and Tillerson have denied that they were on a mission to undermine Trump. (Kelly told The Washington Post that if providing the president “with the best and most open, legal and ethical staffing advice … is ‘working against Trump,’ then guilty as charged.”)

Haley says she refused to go along with the idea. “Go tell the president what your differences are, and quit if you don’t like what he’s doing,” Haley described her response to CBS News anchor Norah O’Donnell.  “But to undermine a president is really a very dangerous thing.”

In an interview with NBC’s “Today” show, the former South Carolina governor said she told Trump about Kelly and Tillerson’s back-door approach.

In the same interview, Yahoo reports, Haley defended Trump’s requests for Ukraine to investigate his political rivals in exchange for military aid — the basis of the House Democrats’ ongoing impeachment inquiry.

While she refused to say whether she agreed with Trump that his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “perfect,” Haley echoed a White House talking point that there was no pressure put on Zelensky.

Research contact: @YahooNews

Behind Barr: Trump announces choice for attorney general

December 10, 2018

During a week when former President George H.W. Bush’s legacy has been validated and his choices lauded, President Donald Trump confirmed that he will nominate former Attorney General William P. Barr—who served in same role in the Bush administration from 1991 to 1993— to lead the Justice Department again, telling reporters on December 7 that Barr was “my first choice since day one.”

Barr is, perhaps, best known for successfully urging the elder Bush in 2001 to pardon a number of key figures involved in the Iran-Contra scandal, including former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. He also has been critical of the Mueller investigation—perhaps explaining why Trump is so enamored of this candidate.

According to a December 7 report by The Washington Post, “Barr is likely to face tough questions at his confirmation hearing about how he will handle the ongoing special counsel investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.”

Assuming that the nomination is confirmed by the Senate, Barr would replace Acting AG Matthew Whittaker, whom Trump elevated to that role after requesting the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions early in November.

That move—which leapfrogged the DOJ professional who actually was next in line for the job, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein—has been widely criticized on the grounds that Whittaker is not qualified; is under investigation, himself; and has said that the president “made the right call” when he fired FBI Director James Comey.

In another round of musical chairs in the administration, Chief of Staff John Kelly was reportedly expected to resign on Friday night, December 7. Kelly had worn out his welcome with the POTUS, who stopped talking to him in recent days in hopes that we would take the hint and depart the White House.

Finally, Trump also has said, according to The Washington Post, that he will nominate Heather Nauert to replace Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, describing the State Department spokesperson, a relative novice on foreign policy, as “very talented, very smart, very quick.” Haley announced her pending resignation in October.

Research contact: matt.zapotosky@washpost.com

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley hands in her resignation

October 10, 2018

In a surprising turn of events, on October 9, Nikki Haley officially resigned from her position as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. In an Oval Office appearance with President Donald Trump, she commented that she needed a break from public service.

In turn, Trump remarked, “She’s done a fantastic job, and we’ve done a fantastic job together,”

While the two were friendly for the cameras, according to a report by The Hill, “there has been friction between the two dating back to the 2016 presidential campaign.”

Indeed, the news outlet pointed out, “Haley had recently lost a few internal debates over policy … including on the decision to allow a record low number of refugees into the United States next year.”

Haley told reporters that she had informed the POTUS of her decision as long as six months ago and would stay on until the end of the year.

While she said she is proud of her record, Haley explained, that after 14 years in public office, it is time to go.  “As a strong supporter of term limits, I have long believed that rotation in office benefits the public,” Haley said in her resignation letter, dated October 3. Between the UN Ambassadorship and [previously] serving in the South Carolina Governorship and General Assembly, I have been in public office for 14 straight years.

“As a businessman,” she told President Trump, “I expect you will appreciate my sense that returning from government to the private sector is not a step down but a step up.”

Both Haley and the president refused to rule out an eventual return to the Trump administration “in any capacity.”

Indeed, the president offered, “You can have your pick.”

Trump said he would move quickly to fill the position and that he already has a long list of people interested in Haley’s post. “I think it’s become maybe a more glamorous position than it was two years ago,” the president said. “Maybe, I wonder why, but it is. She’s made it a very glamorous position.”

Research contact: @Jordanfabian