Amid the Trump impeachment trial Friday, there was relatively minor reporting of Nikki Haley’s most public break with the former president she once served as United Nations ambassador.
“We need to acknowledge he let us down,” Haley, who is widely mentioned as a Republican presidential candidate in 2024, told Politico in an interview Friday morning.
Referring to the violence at the Capitol Jan. 6, the former South Carolina governor said of Trump: “He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that ever happen again.”
In a series of interviews with both Republican activists and seasoned political scientists, Newsmax found a very mixed reaction to Haley’s break with Trump.
“I’ve seen the posts on Facebook and Twitter from party activists here that are absolutely livid with her,” one leading South Carolina Republican who requested anonymity told Newsmax. “If she was trying to accomplish anything productive with that interview, it belly-flopped!”
Haley’s South Carolina is Trump country, having given the president its electoral votes with 55% of the vote.
But “Never Trumpers” were critical of Haley as well.
Shortly after her remarks to Politico, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., one of the ten Republican House Members to vote for Trump’s impeachment, tweeted: “”You can’t play both sides anymore Governor. Pick Country First or Trump First.”
Doug Preisse, one of the closest advisors to former Ohio Gov. and outspoken anti-Trumper John Kasich, said “Those of us who spent time with her did not find her with any real depth.”
But there were other opinions.
Former New Hampshire Attorney General Tom Rath, who ran Kasich’s 2016 campaign in the first-in-the-nation primary, told Newsmax “[a]s a practical matter, until and unless Trump either does something affirmative to take himself out of ’24 speculation or is put out of that race more definitively by events, he will continue to dominate the field. But there is active looking going on right now beyond Trump world about alternatives and Haley’s moves will not be ignored.”
But, Rath warned, “[S]he cannot have it both ways — she cannot be the heir apparent and also the anti-Trump. That’s a choice that anyone getting in for ’24 has to make — to the extent that these comments indicate that she has actually made that choice, that’s a good start.”
Rath’s view was echoed by businessman Dan Eberhart, a major GOP contributor and fund-raiser.
“Nikki Haley’s decision reflects the division between the traditional wing of the party and the insurgent grassroots,” said Eberhart. “She’s betting that donors are going to ultimately side with the traditionalist and I think she’s correct. Donors want to back winners. They aren’t going to fund the revolution. They want government to function and they want a Republican Party that is credible and can push back against the collectivist policies of the new Democratic Party. Nikki Haley wants to lead that Republican Party.”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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