Trump Ups His Attacks on Nikki Haley
Having dispensed with Ron DeSantis as any kind of real threat, the Trump “war machine” has now turned its sites clearly at Nikki Haley.
A nickname change is usually a sign that you are a fresh target in Donald Trump’s world.
As Nikki Haley rises in the polls, the former president’sallies have shifted from calling his former ambassador to the United Nations “birdbrain” to attacking her as “high tax Haley.” That’s the theme of a new pro-Trump super PAC attack ad, marking the MAGA operation’s first anti-Haley spending in the GOP presidential primary.
Regardless of the veracity of the nickname, the Haley campaign seems up for the fight, basically “saying bring it on.”
Even though Haley has shown little appetite to take on her old boss directly, her campaign is gearing up for things to get ugly. According to those close to the Haley campaign and other plugged-in Republicans looking to support her as the Trump alternative, the Haley camp is proud to be a target.
“Everyone from Joe Biden to Donald Trump is attacking Nikki for one reason: She’s the only candidate with momentum,” a senior Haley adviser told the press on the first day of the New Year.
While Trump’s attacks carry a certain sway over the GOP, every new ad is also something of a confession, making it clear who Trump views as his main rival. And that could potentially help Haley consolidate the anti-Trump vote.
That’s a big reason the Trump operation has been hesitant to go after any one candidate too much, preferring to criticize all of them in seemingly haphazard attacks. But Haley’s recent surge in New Hampshire—a December poll had her within the margin of error in the first-in-the-nation primary—has clearly gotten under Trump’s skin, threatening the long-held certitude that the former president that he can coast to the nomination without having to engage with any legitimate rival.
Which is why Trump and his advisers are trying to crush Haley now before she gathers any more serious momentum. In the final weeks of 2023, the Trump campaign and its allies finally began enacting their long-dormant plans to destroy Haley. While Trump and his advisers continue to project confidence that Haley is just a small speed bump on their road to the nomination, his MAGA political surrogates seem to see her as a more significant hazard.
In the last two weeks, MAGA Inc. has spent $3.4 million to run the gas tax ad against Haley, supplemented with nearly $370,000 worth of anti-Haley mailers and text messages for good measure, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. The New Hampshire ad, which first aired on Dec. 19 and was produced for $11,000, marks the first time the Trump super PAC has spent money to go after Haley directly. By comparison, MAGA Inc. has only deployed around $2 million against DeSantis in New Hampshire, efforts that stopped cold in May with the Florida Governor’s growing irrelevancy.
The former president himself has mocked “the Nikki surge” as non-existent in the same holiday direct-to-video message where he called Chris Christie “dogmeat” and demanded the rest of the field drop out and “unify” behind him to defeat President Joe Biden.