Nikki Haley has a message for voters who were supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the Republican presidential nomination race.
“What we say to DeSantis voters is it’s time for a new generation. It’s time to stop the chaos. It’s time to stop the noise and get America back on track,” Haley told Fox News Digital on Sunday ahead of a rally in the historic town of Exeter on the New Hampshire Seacoast.
The former South Carolina governor who later served as U.N. ambassador in former President Trump’s administration was interviewed a couple of hours after DeSantis suspended his campaign and endorsed Trump, the clear frontrunner in the 2024 GOP race.
“We know that DeSantis supporters love America, and we know that they want a new generational conservative leader,” Haley, 52, emphasized. “And so what we’re saying is we’re going to fight for you. We’re going to earn your support.”
Trump, speaking at a rally in Rochester, New Hampshire, once again repeatedly blasted Haley. He charged – among other things – that she “puts America last” and “wants to gut Medicare.”
Haley pushed back against what she argued are Trump’s lies about her record and agenda.
“It is not what Donald Trump says. I have never said I want to raise the retirement age or cut social security. I’ve never raised a tax, regardless of what he says. He said multiple things, like I don’t believe in the border. I passed the toughest illegal immigration law in the country as governor,” she touted.
Trump, the commanding frontrunner in the GOP nomination race as he runs a third straight time for the White House, grabbed 51% of ballots cast in last week’s low-turnout Iowa Republican caucuses. DeSantis edged Haley out for a distant second place.
But DeSantis wasn’t a factor in New Hampshire, where independent voters have long played an influential role in the state’s storied presidential primary.
Trump held 11-point and 19-point leads over Haley in two new polls released on Sunday morning, with DeSantis a distant third in the single digits before he dropped out of the race. His departure leaves Trump and Haley as the last major candidates battling for the nomination.
Haley has repeatedly declined to set expectations for her finish in New Hampshire, reiterating to reporters on Sunday at a stop in Epping that “we’ll find out what strong and stronger is on Election Day.”
Haley campaign manager Betsy Ankney told reporters on Saturday that they’re moving full speed ahead to South Carolina, which holds the next major contest in the GOP presidential nominating calendar, on Feb. 24.
Ankney said Haley will hold a large event in her hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday, the same day that the campaign will launch a $4 million statewide ad blitz.
Asked by Fox News if she’s moving on to her home state regardless of her finish in New Hampshire, Haley quickly responded “absolutely.”
“I can’t wait to make sure that we go and have that homecoming. And then I’m going to fight every day to earn their support. South Carolinians are smart. They’re tough. They expect you to do your homework,” she emphasized. “But I’ve won there twice. I know what it takes to do that and we’ll do it again.”
Minutes after her Fox News interview, Haley took the stage at Exeter High School after being introduced by daytime TV host Judith Sheindlin, who is best known to Americans as Judge Judy.
“Please, New Hampshire. Use your brains and your heart,” Sheindlin stressed. “Bring her home on Tuesday.”
After the two hugged as Haley came on stage, the candidate said “how cool is it to have Judge Judy endorse you? It really is.”
Haley said of Sheindlin, “she’s a trailblazer. She’s tough. She speaks hard truths. She doesn’t mince words.”
And reacting to the roar of the crowd, Haley said “Can you hear that sound? That’s the sound of a two-person race.”
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