Donald Trump said six words to confidants recently that have left some of the most ardent MAGA supporters up in arms.
“What do you think of Nikki?”
It’s not unusual for Trump to survey donors, outside advisers and members of his Mar-a-Lago resort on personnel matters. He has also pressed allies for their impressions of other prominent Republicans in recent months including former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Sens. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Reps. Byron Donalds (R-Fl.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Arizona Republican Kari Lake.
During a phone conversation with one ally about Haley, Trump indicated that he was aware of the criticisms of her but nonetheless wanted to get this person’s take about the former ambassador, according to a person familiar with the call.
The two have had a complicated relationship. Haley backed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio over Trump in the 2016 Republican primary. But after he was elected, Trump picked her to be his U.N. ambassador, a post she held for two years. Haley broke sharply with Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, when she said Trump would be “judged harshly by history.”
But Haley would later try to patch things up. A few months after the Capitol siege, she said she wouldn’t run for president in 2024 if Trump did. The former ambassador also tried to arrange a meeting with Trump at Mar-a-Lago but was turned down by the former president, who was rankled by her criticism.
The move shows that Trump may be worried about his former ambassador to the UN’s rise in the polls over the past couple of months. A recent survey in New Hampshire, for example, shows Haley essentially tied with the former president, who has the major advantage of near-universal name identification and eight years of campaign history.
Haley, according to Fox News, “was supported by 29% of likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters, according to a recent poll by American Research Group conducted by telephone, Dec. 14-20. The poll showed that 33% of likely New Hampshire Republican voters said they would support Trump.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ranked third among likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters, garnering 13% support, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had just 6% support. Vivek Ramaswamy received 5% support, while 1% of likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters responded that they would support former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.”
Trump called the poll a “scam” but was mocked by New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, a Haley supporter.
One of us has never lost an election.
— Chris Sununu (@ChrisSununu) December 22, 2023
So far, Trump has refused to debate his two major primary challengers, Haley and Governor Ron DeSantis. He recently said he would debate his challengers if “it was close” following the New Hampshire primary.