Two years after Nikki Haley vowed not to challenge Donald Trump for the presidential nomination, the former South Carolina governor who served in his administration and once called him a “friend” is becoming the standard-bearer of the movement to knock him out.
In recent weeks, Haley has drawn a surge in support from Trump-skeptical Republicans across the GOP, including donors and organizers in early voting states. A group of former Tim Scott donors is preparing to host a fundraiser for her in Manhattan. Haley’s campaign events in New Hampshire this week required overflow rooms. And in Iowa — where Haley has steeper competition from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — some conservatives are busy corralling support for her.
“Nikki Haley is certainly locking up a lot of the Never Trumpers,” said Matthew Bartlett, a Republican operative who has worked on several presidential campaigns and is unaffiliated this cycle. “She also has real room to grow.”
Donors getting ready to host Haley in New York on Dec. 4 include two people close to Paul Singer, the hedge fund billionaire who has been critical of Trump. Greg Wendt, a former Scott supporter who has donated to moderate, anti-Trump Republicans such as John Kasich and John McCain, is now expressing interest in Haley, according to a New York City-based Republican fundraiser granted anonymity to speak freely about private conversations. And Doug Gross, a Republican operative who was the Iowa GOP nominee for governor in 2002, told POLITICO he plans to caucus for Haley after surveying the field for months in search of an alternative to Trump. [Continue reading…]