Haley vows to stay in GOP race as Trump seeks commanding victory in NH

Republican presidential candidate former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley gestures while walking with supporters, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, near a polling site at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Republican presidential candidate former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley gestures while walking with supporters, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, near a polling site at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) Steven Senne

Republican presidential candidate former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley addresses members of the media, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, near a polling site at Winnacunnet High School, in Hampton, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Republican presidential candidate former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley addresses members of the media, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, near a polling site at Winnacunnet High School, in Hampton, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) Steven Senne

Former presidential candidate and businessman Andrew Yang, left, cheers while campaigning outside a polling site for Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., as voting is underway in the New Hampshire presidential primary in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Former presidential candidate and businessman Andrew Yang, left, cheers while campaigning outside a polling site for Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., as voting is underway in the New Hampshire presidential primary in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (AP Photo/David Goldman) David Goldman

Rene Fish of Chesterfield, N.H. steps out of the voting booth in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (Kristopher Radder /The Brattleboro Reformer via AP)

Rene Fish of Chesterfield, N.H. steps out of the voting booth in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (Kristopher Radder /The Brattleboro Reformer via AP) Kristopher Radder Brattleboro Reformer

A home with patriotic spirit is decorated near the town's polling place on the morning of the presidential primary election, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in the Groveton village of Northumberland, N.H. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

A home with patriotic spirit is decorated near the town's polling place on the morning of the presidential primary election, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in the Groveton village of Northumberland, N.H. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty) Robert F. Bukaty

Voters line up for the polls to open to cast their ballots in the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Voters line up for the polls to open to cast their ballots in the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (AP Photo/David Goldman) David Goldman

Les Otten, far right, has his vote inserted into the ballot box by town moderator Tom Tillotson shortly after midnight in the presidential primary election, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Dixville Notch, N.H. All six voters selected Nikki Haley. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Les Otten, far right, has his vote inserted into the ballot box by town moderator Tom Tillotson shortly after midnight in the presidential primary election, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Dixville Notch, N.H. All six voters selected Nikki Haley. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty) Robert F. Bukaty

Republican presidential candidate former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, center, addresses members of the media while standing with N.H. Gov. Chris Sununu, left, and retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc, right, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, near a polling site at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Republican presidential candidate former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, center, addresses members of the media while standing with N.H. Gov. Chris Sununu, left, and retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc, right, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, near a polling site at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) Steven Senne

Levi Canon, 5, of Chesterfield, N.H., watches his mother, Bethany, fill out her ballot in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (Kristopher Radder /The Brattleboro Reformer via AP)

Levi Canon, 5, of Chesterfield, N.H., watches his mother, Bethany, fill out her ballot in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (Kristopher Radder /The Brattleboro Reformer via AP) Kristopher Radder Brattleboro Reformer

Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley shakes hands with a patron during a campaign stop at a brewery, Monday, Jan. 22, 2024, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley shakes hands with a patron during a campaign stop at a brewery, Monday, Jan. 22, 2024, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

Former President Donald Trump leaves his apartment building in New York, Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Former President Donald Trump leaves his apartment building in New York, Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) Seth Wenig

Joe Keenan plants a campaign sign in a snowbank outside Groveton village polling place, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Northumberland, N.H. Local voters were electing a new state representative in addition to voting in the presidential primary election. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Joe Keenan plants a campaign sign in a snowbank outside Groveton village polling place, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Northumberland, N.H. Local voters were electing a new state representative in addition to voting in the presidential primary election. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty) Robert F. Bukaty

Election worker Barbara Wheelock, left, and town moderator Keith Young count ballots before the polls open for the presidential primary election, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in the Groveton village of Northumberland, N.H.

Election worker Barbara Wheelock, left, and town moderator Keith Young count ballots before the polls open for the presidential primary election, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in the Groveton village of Northumberland, N.H. "We have to make sure we have the same number of ballots at the end of the day as at the beginning," said Young. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty) Robert F. Bukaty

Tina Lorenz, right, and Ed Schoen, behind, hold candidate signs outside the polling place at Windham High School in the presidential primary election, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Windham, N.H. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Tina Lorenz, right, and Ed Schoen, behind, hold candidate signs outside the polling place at Windham High School in the presidential primary election, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Windham, N.H. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) Michael Dwyer

Mary Cullen emerges from a voting booth after filling out her ballot for the New Hampshire presidential primary at a polling site in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Mary Cullen emerges from a voting booth after filling out her ballot for the New Hampshire presidential primary at a polling site in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (AP Photo/David Goldman) David Goldman

A voter watches her footing as she walks across the snow-covered parking lot after voting in the presidential primary election, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Stark, N.H. The town's polling site, located in the volunteer fire dept., sits is in the shadow of Devil's Slide Mountain. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

A voter watches her footing as she walks across the snow-covered parking lot after voting in the presidential primary election, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Stark, N.H. The town's polling site, located in the volunteer fire dept., sits is in the shadow of Devil's Slide Mountain. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty) Robert F. Bukaty

Voters enter a youth center to cast their ballots as the polls open for the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Voters enter a youth center to cast their ballots as the polls open for the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (AP Photo/David Goldman) David Goldman

Poll workers check in voters for the presidential primary election at Windham High School, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Windham, N.H. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Poll workers check in voters for the presidential primary election at Windham High School, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Windham, N.H. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) Michael Dwyer

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley cheer as voters enter a polling site to cast their ballots in the New Hampshire presidential primary in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley cheer as voters enter a polling site to cast their ballots in the New Hampshire presidential primary in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (AP Photo/David Goldman) David Goldman

A patriotic dachshund figurine stands on Town Clerk Melinda Kennett's desk at a polling place for the presidential primary election, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in the Groveton village of Northumberland, N.H.

A patriotic dachshund figurine stands on Town Clerk Melinda Kennett's desk at a polling place for the presidential primary election, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in the Groveton village of Northumberland, N.H. "He's our unofficial town mascot. If I don't bring him, I'll get asked where he is all day," said Kennet, seated in background. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty) Robert F. Bukaty

By HOLLY RAMER, JILL COLVIN, WILL WEISSERT and BILL BARROW

Associated Press

Published: 01-23-2024 3:49 PM

Modified: 01-23-2024 4:17 PM


MANCHESTER, N.H. — Nikki Haley, the last major GOP opponent of Donald Trump, insisted she would not drop out if she loses Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary to the former president, who aimed for a commanding victory to make a November rematch with President Joe Biden more likely than ever.

Trump’s allies were already ramping up pressure on the former U.N. ambassador to leave the race if she falls by a large margin. She has focused considerable resources on New Hampshire, hoping to capitalize on the state’s independent streak as she looks for an upset or at least a tight loss that could dent Trump’s continued domination of Republican politics.

“I’m running against Donald Trump, and I’m not going to talk about an obituary,” Haley told reporters.

Trump retorted Tuesday, “Let her do whatever she wants,” saying voters will deliver the nomination to him anyway. His aides have argued for several days that Haley has no realistic path if she loses in New Hampshire.

If Trump wins Tuesday, he would be the first Republican presidential candidate to win open races in Iowa and New Hampshire since both states began leading the election calendar in 1976 — a sign of his continued grip on the party’s most loyal voters and a suggestion that he would extend his winning streak no matter how long Haley remained in the race.

Trump won New Hampshire’s Republican primary big during his first run for president in 2016, though some of his allies lost key races during the midterms two years ago. Haley has to contend with an opponent who has a deep bond with the GOP base and has concentrated on winning New Hampshire decisively enough that it would end the competitive phase of the Republican nomination battle.

There was a Democratic New Hampshire primary, too, but it was unsanctioned and provided no delegates to the winner. Biden wasn’t on that ballot, opting to wait for upcoming South Carolina.

Were Haley to drop out after Tuesday, that would effectively decide the GOP primary on its second stop, well before the vast majority of Republican voters across the country have been able to vote.

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Trump won the Iowa caucuses by 30 points. Haley finished third in Iowa, behind Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who ended his campaign on Sunday. Next month’s South Carolina primary is the next state where both Trump and Haley would compete. Haley was twice elected governor of her home state, but almost every top elected Republican in South Carolina backs Trump.

Her campaign manager circulated a memo to donors, supporters and media arguing that it was too early to dismiss her path forward — while also tamping down expectations for New Hampshire.

“The political class and the media want to give Donald Trump a coronation,” Betsy Ankney wrote in the memo, first reported by The New York Times. “They say the race is over. They want to throw up their hands, after only 110,000 people have voted in a caucus in Iowa and say, well, I guess it’s Trump. That isn’t how this works.”

About 40% of New Hampshire’s registered voters are not affiliated by party. Republicans allow those voters to cast GOP primary ballots, opening Haley’s potential coalition to more right-leaning voters who dislike Trump and even Democratic-leaning voters who want to oppose Trump or vent frustrations over Biden, who declined to campaign in his party’s unsanctioned primary here after championing a new calendar that puts South Carolina first.

Laurie Dufour was among the independents who opted for Haley on Tuesday. She said she votes most often for Democrats and would vote for Biden “in a heartbeat” over Trump in a general election, though she said she wished Biden would consider stepping aside due to his age.

“I did not want Trump and she just sounded very knowledgeable,” the 66-year-old said.

Haley has been campaigning with New Hampshire’s popular Republican governor, Chris Sununu, a Trump critic. But she noted that many Republican power brokers have lined up behind Trump, effectively contradicting the former president’s anti-establishment posturing.

“It’s the political elite that are uniting around President Trump,” Haley insisted. “The political class has gotten us into this mess. We need a normal, real person to get us out of it.”

Trump, meanwhile, continued to look ahead. He declined Tuesday to say whether he had spoken to DeSantis since he dropped out, and he wouldn’t comment on the possibility of asking DeSantis to be his running mate. He did say he is willing to smooth things over with rivals once they’ve exited the campaign.

“I’m a very forgiving person,” Trump said.

In the first results released early Tuesday, all six registered voters of tiny Dixville Notch cast their ballots for Haley over Trump. The resort town is the only one in New Hampshire this year that opted to vote at midnight.

Scot Stebbins Sr., who attended Trump’s rally in a Make America Great Again baseball cap, called him “the greatest president we’ve had since Abraham Lincoln. He said he thought the four criminal cases and 91 felony counts Trump is facing constituted “a witch hunt.”

Democrats were also holding a primary Tuesday, but it was unlike any in recent memory.

Biden championed new Democratic National Committee rules that have the party’s 2024 primary process beginning on Feb. 3 in South Carolina, rather than in Iowa or New Hampshire. He argued that Black voters, the party’s most reliable constituency and a critical part of his win in South Carolina that revived his 2020 primary campaign after three opening loses, should have a larger and earlier role in determining its nominee.

New Hampshire’s Democrats, citing state laws dictating that their state hold the nation’s first primary after Iowa’s caucuses, defied the revamped order and pushed ahead with their primary as scheduled.

Biden didn’t campaign here and his name wasn’t on the ballot, meaning the state’s Democrats could vote for the president’s two little-known major primary challengers, Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips and self-help author Marianne Williamson. Still, many of New Hampshire’s top Democrats backed a write-in campaign that they expected Biden to handily win.

Instead of focusing on New Hampshire, Biden was joining Vice President Kamala Harris in northern Virginia for a rally in defense of abortion rights, which Democrats see as a winning issue for them across the country in November.

There’s a growing sense of inevitability around November being a reprisal of Biden versus Trump. Both men have been criticized by their opponents over age — Biden is 81, Trump 77 — and each has painted the other as unfit for another White House term.

Public opinion polls suggest most Americans oppose a rematch. An AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll in December found that 56% of U.S. adults would be very or somewhat dissatisfied with Biden as the Democratic nominee — and 58% felt the same about Trump as the GOP pick.

Trump has twice won New Hampshire’s Republican primary but lost the state in both of his general election campaigns. Biden finished a distant fifth in the Democrats’ 2020 primary before going on to win the nomination. In the November 2020 election, Biden won 52.7% of the vote to Trump’s 45.4%.