MANCHESTER – With the withdrawal of Florida governor Ron DeSantis just days before the New Hampshire primary, former President Donald Trump is strategically positioning himself to secure the Republican presidential nomination.
The development has transformed the contest into a two-horse race, with Trump’s remaining rival, Nikki Haley, facing a pivotal moment in her campaign.
Following a resounding victory over DeSantis in Iowa last week, Trump’s path to the nomination has gained momentum.
The former president, now 77, accepted DeSantis’s endorsement in Manchester, emphasizing their shared policies and asserting his dominance within the party.
“Without the endorsement, I think we would have got all of those votes,” Trump stated, highlighting their alignment on issues such as strong borders, education, low taxes, and minimal regulations.
He also took the opportunity to criticize Haley, referring to her as “not smart enough” and labeling her a “globalist.”
Haley, Trump’s former UN ambassador, faces a critical juncture in her campaign.
With DeSantis out of the picture, she is banking on New Hampshire’s high proportion of independents to mount what analysts have described as her “last stand.”
However, polling averages from RealClearPolitics and FiveThirtyEight place her 15 points behind Trump, making the task challenging.
In response to Trump’s recent attacks, Haley questioned the former president’s mental acuity, stating, “He’s just not at the same level he was at in 2016.”
She also emphasized the chaos that, according to her, follows Trump, portraying herself as a more stable alternative.
The New Hampshire primary holds significance as a reliable indicator of nationwide electoral success and sets the tone for future races.
While the state only allocates 22 delegates, its influence extends beyond its size.
A strong performance by Haley could reinvigorate her campaign and position her as a genuine threat heading into her home state of South Carolina later in February.
“I think it would be great for us to have Nikki Haley as president,” said Madison Gillis, a first-time voter and Republican.
“I think she’s amazing. I love what she stands for. I think she has a shot here in New Hampshire.”
Despite its relatively modest delegate count, New Hampshire plays a crucial role in shaping the narrative for the upcoming “Super Tuesday” on March 5, where 874 delegates are at stake.
Aides to Trump anticipate closing out the race shortly after, aiming to secure the nomination by April, well before any potential criminal trials.
The New Hampshire primary is scheduled for February 7, marking a crucial battleground for the remaining Republican candidates.
- additional report by AFP