avatarDr. Munr Kazmir

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No, No, Nikki Haley

The former governor and Republican everywoman fought through Trumpian headwinds to bitter defeat. Where does she go from here?

Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley speaking with supporters at a “Countdown to Caucus” campaign rally at the Country Lane Lodge in Adel, Iowa. January 15, 2024. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

In November, Wall Street Journal writer Kimberley A. Strassel was waxing poetic about “Nikki Haley’s 5-Inch Heels.

“She is what the GOP needs to take on Trump and Biden,” gushed Strassel, calling Haley “a conviction politician.”

While POLITICO’s Jack Shafer scoffed that the “Nikki Haley Boomlet Is Proof of a Bored Press Corps,” other media outlets were eagerly jumping on the Haley bandwagon.

Many thought it was an ill-fated bandwagon to nowhere.

“In the days before the Koch network announced its gift of cash and organizational muscle to the Haley team, the press was stirring the pot to make it seem like she was making the 2024 contest a real race,” Shafer pointed out for POLITICO.

By January, plenty of media outlets were going all-in for Haley.

Who’s Afraid of Nikki Haley?” quipped the Wall Street Journal editorial board on January 9, 2024. The answer appeared to be “Not Donald Trump” though the article was peppered with suggestions that put “Ms Haley within striking distance of Mr. Trump in New Hampshire. At 32% to his 39%.”

“Other polls have Mr. Trump with a bigger lead in the state,” admitted the editorial board. “But Ms. Haley’s Granite State momentum is real, and many voters who might otherwise support Ms. Haley are surely among former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s 12%.”

Of course, it wasn’t to be. For all Haley’s deep-pocketed campaign spending — and some would argue, overspending — Haley has thus far failed to win a single primary against Donald Trump. Nor are there any signs on the horizon to indicate a change in that circumstance.

Poor Nikki, Poor Us,” wept Gail Collins for the New York Times on January 24, 2024, after Haley’s overhyped candidacy met defeat in New Hampshire.

A Radical Proposal for Nikki Haley,” groused Ross Douthat for the NYT later that week: “Try to win more votes.”

What Is Nikki Haley Even Talking About?” griped Mark Leibovich for The Atlantic soon after.

“Beyond her expertly rendered deliveries, Haley’s actual answers can be mushy or even nonsensical, with strange constructions and frequent malaprops,” Leibovich noticed on the campaign trail.

“For all her cultivated brashness, Haley, whose campaign declined my requests to interview her, can also convey an impression of being terrified — of saying the wrong thing, of offending too many MAGA or MAGA-adjacent voters, or certainly of Trump himself,” he concluded.

So what is the Republican Party to do with Nikki Haley?

She would like very much to beat Donald Trump to the Republican nomination — but she can’t. She spent $76.4 million to not defeat Donald Trump in three states. She doesn’t want to be Vice President. She’s been vetted by moneyed political donors, feted by Saturday Night Live, and swatted by persons unknown.

For now, she is the 2024 wild card.

Nikki Haley won’t say she’ll back Trump if he wins GOP nod — despite debate pledge,” wrote Ryan King for the New York Post on February 18, 2024.

Haley’s candidacy has been a useful tool for the Biden campaign in its never-ending battle against Donald Trump.

And Biden’s campaign needs all the help it can get. All is not exactly well in Bidenworld, either.

Liberal pundits debate Biden replacement scenarios,” jeered W. James Antle III for the Washington Examiner on February 29, 2024.

“New York Times columnist Ezra Klein suggested an open Democratic National Convention to replace Biden,” began Antle. “New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait floated a counterproposal whereby Biden picks his successor with the help of various Democratic grandees if things don’t improve by summertime.”

“Longtime Democratic operative James Carville got the ball rolling on this latest round of Biden doubt when he questioned the decision to forgo a Super Bowl interview,” Antle noted. “This talk percolates and then fizzles every few months after an age-related storyline or a series of discouraging poll numbers.”

Biden’s poll numbers certainly are discouraging.

Voters Doubt Biden’s Leadership and Favor Trump, Times/Siena Poll Finds,” announced Shane Goldmacher for the New York Times last week. “The share of voters who strongly disapprove of President Biden’s handling of his job has reached 47 percent, higher than in Times/Siena polls at any point in his presidency.”

The New York Times/Sienna poll is sobering. President Biden’s polling, particularly on the subject of the border crisis, was enough to drive him to visit the border last week.

Unfortunately, the President’s trip — only his second as President — coincided with another high-profile border tour: Former President Donald Trump’s.

Biden and Trump were both at the border today, staking out ground on a key 2024 issue,” admitted Franco Ordoñez for NPR on Thursday.

“President Biden squared off against former President Donald Trump on Thursday on one of the issues expected to dominate the 2024 presidential election: immigration,” he began. “Both Biden and Trump visited two Texas border communities a few hundred miles apart that have been grappling with large numbers of migrants seeking asylum.”

“It’s only the second time during his presidency that Biden has been to the border,” he noted. “The trip comes as Biden goes on the offensive, trying to turn the tables on an issue that has been a liability for him. Polls show a majority of Americans trust Republicans more than Democrats on securing the border.”

“A new Monmouth University poll found that 53% of respondents support building a border wall, the first time a majority of Americans have backed the proposal since Trump launched his first presidential campaign,” he revealed.

Swing state polls in particular have been standing out like a sore thumb; and not in Biden’s favor. This is not a new phenomenon, but one that has been building since late last year.

The polls keep getting worse for Biden,” fretted Steven Shepard for POLITICO on November 25, 2023. “Trump’s vote share in national polls is higher than at any time in the past year.”

In Arizona, Bad Feelings About the Economy Sour Some Voters on Biden,” Jack Healy broke the bad news for the New York Times last Tuesday.

Voters Are Increasingly Ditching The Democratic Party For The GOP In This Crucial Swing State,” Mary Lou Masters for the Daily Caller on December 26, 2023.

Trump is the biggest flaw in Nikki Haley’s plan to become President; Trump may well be the biggest hole in Biden’s plan to stay president.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)

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