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Trump will be joined by South Carolina leaders at New Hampshire rally as he tries to undercut Haley

Donald Trump is turning the screws on Nikki Haley in a show of strength ahead of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, surrounding himself with leaders from her home state

Michelle L. Price,Jill Colvin
Sunday 21 January 2024 00:11 GMT

Donald Trump is surrounding himself with leaders from Nikki Haley 's home state in a show of strength ahead of Tuesday's New Hampshire primary.

Trump, according to his campaign, will be joined at a rally at the NHU Arena in Manchester Saturday night by South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, the state's lieutenant governor and a slew of other senior officials, including the state's attorney general, treasurer and House speaker. Also planning to appear are U.S. Reps. Joe Wilson, William Timmons and Russell Fry.

The appearances are yet another blow from South Carolina against Haley, who is hoping her appeal among independent and unaffiliated voters will propel her to a strong enough finish in New Hampshire to turn the race into a two-person contest against Trump.

It comes a day after Trump received the endorsement of South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who joined him at a rally in Concord. Scott dropped his own bid for the Republican nomination in November. A dozen years ago, Haley, then serving as governor of their state, elevated Scott from the House by appointing him as senator, making him one of the nation’s most prominent Black Republicans.

McMaster and other top officials had already endorsed Trump. Haley has a famously fractious relationship with many of her state’s Republican power brokers even as she was twice elected governor — defeating McMaster in the GOP primary the first time.

Her response on Saturday made clear she hadn't forgotten that rivalry.

“I’m sorry, is that the person I ran against for governor and beat?” she said. "Just checking.

Haley campaign manager Betsy Ankney also brushed off the appearances at an event hosted by Bloomberg News, insisting endorsements had “never been Nikki’s game.”

Haley, meanwhile, highlighted a gaffe from Trump at his rally Friday night after Scott gave him a rousing endorsement.

Trump repeatedly suggested Haley had been in charge of keeping the Capitol secure on Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building to try to stop his election loss from being certified. Haley was not at the Capitol that day. And Trump has consistently downplayed his administration's failure to keep the Capitol safe or his delay in trying to call off the rioters.

“They’re saying he got confused. That he was talking about something else, that he was talking about Nancy Pelosi," Haley said. “When you’re dealing with the pressures of a presidency, we can’t have someone else where we question whether they’re mentally fit to do this.”

Even with their state’s top elected Republicans and much of the congressional delegation in New Hampshire to advocate for Trump this week, some South Carolina voters were undeterred about backing other candidates.

“I’m a strong Republican, and I just vote Republican because I think they have a lot in common with supporting the United States and the regular citizens of the United States,” said Sandra Chase, following an event for GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis in Lexington, South Carolina, on Saturday afternoon.

DeSantis, coming off a second-place finish in leadoff Iowa, has shifted some of his focus away from New Hampshire, where the state's independent voters are seen to provide more of an opening for Haley. He's instead been campaigning this weekend in South Carolina, where the state's primary next month is considered a pivotal early contest.

Chase said she had previously backed Trump but wanted to go in a different direction this year.

“I just want to pick the best candidate, and I think the best candidate is Ron DeSantis,” she said. “But I mean, everybody is allowed to support whoever they want to support.”


AP National Politics Writer Steve Peoples in Keene, New Hampshire, reporter Meg Kinnard in Lexington, South Carolina, and Associated Press video journalist Joe Frederick in Peterborough, New Hampshire, contributed to this report.

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