Donald Trump’s Tantrumless Reaction to Nikki Haley’s 2024 Ambitions Is Telling


Still running largely unopposed in the 2024 presidential race, Donald Trump seems unruffled by former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley’s potential bid––but he has taken notice. “I talked to her for a little while, I said, ‘Look, you know, go by your heart if you want to run,’” the former president said over the weekend, before adding that he welcomes the competition: “She called me and said she’d like to consider it, and I said you should do it.”

While Trump did rib Haley—who served as his United Nations ambassador—for previously saying she would “never” run against him, his comments are neighborly compared to his broadsides against Governor Ron DeSantis, who would be an instant early favorite should he declare for the 2024 contest. In perhaps his most bitter attack yet, Trump on Saturday accused the Florida Republican of promoting “the vaccine as much as anyone” and “trying to rewrite history” around his handling of Florida’s pandemic restrictions. “When I hear that he might [run], I think it’s very disloyal,” Trump said, according to Politico, adding later, “He won’t be leading, I got him elected. I’m the one that chose him.”

Trump’s particular distaste for the governor is no great surprise considering the amount of postmidterm polls that named DeSantis as the top choice among Republican primary voters. And the former president has good reason not to view Haley as a real opponent. Even in her home state, which is often seen as a bellwether for primary winners, Haley only managed to muster support from 12% of GOP primary voters. Meanwhile, the South Carolina poll—conducted by the Moore Information Group and Conservative Policy Research Network—put Trump on top with 41%, as compared to 31% for DeSantis.

But that’s not the only reason Trump is likely unbothered by Haley’s presidential ambitions: The former president has received imprimaturs from both South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham and Governor Henry McMaster, who appeared alongside him at Columbia’s statehouse this past weekend. “How many times have you heard: ‘We like Trump policies, but we want somebody new?’ There are no Trump policies without Donald Trump,” said Graham, a staunchly loyal Trump ally. “The good news for the Republican Party, there are many, many talented people for years to come, but there is only one Donald Trump.”

 Also on Saturday, Trump made a stop in New Hampshire, another pivotal early primary state, to assure local Republican officials that he remains energetic as ever. “They said, ‘he’s not campaigning, he’s not doing rallies. Maybe he’s lost his step,’” he said. “I’m more angry now and I’m more committed now than I ever was.” He went on to reference his unopposed nomination in 2020 to assert that he doesn’t have much “competition this time either, to be honest.”

As for Haley, she is building her 2024 brand by emphasizing that she’s not a geriatric man. “When you’re looking at the future of America, I think it’s time for new generational change,” she told Fox News host Sean Hannity earlier this month. “I don’t think you need to be 80 years old to go be a leader in DC. I think we need a young generation to come in, step up, and really start fixing things.” After Hannity asked her about potentially challenging Trump, Haley replied with a quip: “Let the best woman win.”

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