Haley looks to New Hampshire for momentum
Haley told supporters on Monday night, “Underestimate me, because that’s always fun. I love you Iowa, but we’re on to New Hampshire.”
Nikki Haley speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition’s Annual Leadership Summit at The Venetian Resort Las Vegas on October 28, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
DONALD TRUMP stormed towards New Hampshire on Tuesday (16), knowing that a repeat of his runaway win in Iowa would all but seal the Republican nomination to set up his rematch with president Joe Biden in November.
The scandal-plagued former president romped home in the first contest of the drawn-out US presidential race, scoring 51 per cent of Republican voters to trounce rivals Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley for the biggest Iowa caucus victory in modern history.
The three Republican contenders will meet again for the next contest in New Hampshire next Tuesday (23) and Trump, 77, will have a chance effectively to deliver a killer blow.
“I really think this is time now for everybody, the country, to come together,” Trump told a victory rally in Iowa in an unusually conciliatory tone toward his would-be rivals.
Haley, meanwhile, told supporters on Monday night, “Underestimate me, because that’s always fun. I love you Iowa, but we’re on to New Hampshire.”
The northeastern state is well-known for its relatively moderate, libertarian-minded brand of Republicanism that could favour Haley.
Moreover, the primary contest in New Hampshire is “semi-open,” meaning voters that are not registered with any party can participate, which can reward candidates perceived to be centrists.
Trying to take advantage, Haley has campaigned heavily in New Hampshire while DeSantis bet heavily on Iowa.
Haley was to hold a rally in northern New Hampshire on Tuesday with the state governor, Chris Sununu, who has endorsed her. DeSantis was scheduled to hold a town hall event and Trump was due to deliver remarks at a country club in the southeast.
Trump is hoping to fast-track the normally months-long Republican selection process with a series of convincing early primary wins to force out his rivals.
He has drawn criticism for increasingly authoritarian language, including comments that undocumented immigrants were “poisoning the blood of our country.”
Still, his performance in Iowa showed his enduring popularity among Republican voters even after the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by his supporters and his 91 criminal charges for trying to overturn the 2020 election, retaining classified documents and falsifying records over hush money payments to a porn star.
Trump has used his legal travails to fundraise and boost his support as he protests his innocence. He also claims that he is the victim of a “witch hunt.”
He holds a 37-point lead among Republicans, according to the most recent nationwide Reuters/Ipsos poll.
The tycoon and former reality TV star is known for his rhetoric, promising to shut the Mexican border to stop an “invasion” of migrants and pledging to drill for oil if re-elected.
His abrasive message has divided the country and promises a bitter year’s campaigning ahead as Trump seeks what he says will be vengeance against Biden. But it’s also a message that has delivered Trump a powerful base of support.
“Trump is demonstrating impressive strength among blue-collar, working-class and rural voters. His victory was not a surprise,” Dennis J Goldford, a political science professor at Drake University in Des Moines, said.
Trump was headed to a campaign event in New Hampshire on Tuesday night (16), as Eastern Eye went to press, with a stop on the way to appear in court in New York, where he is on trial for defamation after a jury found he was liable for a 1990s sexual assault against writer E Jean Carroll.
Trump has easily led Republican polling for more than a year and the contest in a frozen, blizzardbattered Iowa offered the clearest insight yet into his ability to convert that advantage into a stunning White House comeback campaign.
Major US networks took just half an hour to call the race, with Trump opening an unprecedented 30-point gap over Florida governor DeSantis, who had pinned his hopes on Iowa. Former UN ambassador Haley took third place with 19 per cent.
Haley, the only woman in the Republican contest, was looking to outperform expectations in Iowa and ride into a one-on-one match-up with Trump in her preferred battleground of New Hampshire.
Despite her third-place finish, Haley dismissed DeSantis’s chances and she vowed to avert the “nightmare” of a Trump-Biden rematch by winning in New Hampshire.
“Trump and Biden are both about 80 years old,” she said.
South Carolina holds its primary on Wednesday (24) and DeSantis is heading there, seeking to deal an early blow to Haley who was formerly governor of the state.
DeSantis confirmed that he would stay in the race to “reverse the madness that we’ve seen in this country”, but the governor is considered weak in New Hampshire and many analysts were declaring his campaign all but dead.