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Haley, bolstered by the backing of a major conservative group, is having a moment on the campaign trail

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Haley, bolstered by the backing of a major conservative group, is having a moment on the campaign trail

In front of a standing room only crowd on a chilly late autumn evening in the state that holds the first primary in the Republican presidential nominating calendar, Nikki Haley was making her case.

The former South Carolina governor who later served as ambassador to the United Nations in former President Donald Trump’s administration was arguing that she’s more electable than her former boss in a 2024 general election matchup against President Biden.

“If you look at the national polls and you look at electability, you see that Trump is pretty much even with Biden. On a good day, he might be two points up. In every poll, we beat Biden by 10 to 13 points,” Haley claimed at her Tuesday evening town hall at the historic opera house in Derry, New Hampshire.

Electability was a factor in the decision by Americans for Prosperity Action, the political wing of the influential and deep-pocketed fiscally conservative network founded by the billionaire Koch Brothers, to endorse Haley. 

BIG BOOST: HALEY LANDS THE BACKING OF A CONSERVATIVE GRASSROOTS ARMY

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Former ambassador to the United Nations and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a 2024 Republican presidential candidate, speaks at a town hall in Derry, New Hampshire, on Nov. 28, 2023 (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser)

The announcement Tuesday morning by the AFP Action, which has pledged to spend tens of millions of dollars and mobilize its formidable grassroots operation to help push the Republican Party past Trump, was a setback to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

Haley’s enjoyed momentum in the polls in recent months, thanks in part to well-received performances in the first three GOP presidential primary debates. 

THE FINAL COUNTDOWN: TRUMP HOLDS COMMANDING LEAD WITH 50 DAYS TO GO UNTIL IOWA CAUCUSES 

She has leapfrogged DeSantis for second place in New Hampshire and in her home state, which holds the first southern contest. And she’s pulled even with DeSantis in some of the latest polls in Iowa, whose caucuses kick off the GOP nominating calendar on Jan. 15.

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But Haley and DeSantis remain far behind Trump, who continues to hold a commanding lead over the rest of the field as the former president makes his third straight White House run.

Donald Trump

Former President Donald Trump leaves the stage at a campaign rally Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in Claremont, N.H. (AP Photo/Reba Saldanha) (AP Photo/Reba Saldanha)

The AFP Action endorsement should help Haley, whose lean campaign lacks the grassroots outreach and organizational strength that DeSantis can count on courtesy of the DeSantis-aligned super PAC Never Back Down.

The endorsement by AFP Action Haley comes with the group’s powerful direct-mail and field operations, as well as a major ad blitz in the early voting states.

“Organizationally speaking – it’s significant. This is muscle. This is political dollars and door knocking. It will help,” Republican consultant Matthew Bartlett, who splits his time between New Hampshire and the nation’s capital, told Fox News.

GAME ON IN IOWA AS DESANTIS AND HALEY BATTLE FOR SECOND PLACE BEHIND TRUMP

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Haley, addressing the crowd, asked “how many of you are here to hear me for the first time?” 

A lot of folks in the audience raised their hands.

“There’s a lot of new people coming out and seeing Nikki,” longtime GOP strategist Rick Wiley, who’s steering Haley’s operation in New Hampshire, told Fox News. Wiley said it was a sign that Haley’s message is resonating.

“You can see the volunteers grabbing their information,” Wiley said as he pointed to the crowd of first-time attendees. “We have RSVP’s and we’re going to put them to work.”

Haley arrived in New Hampshire after drawing roughly 2,500 people to a campaign event Monday evening in her home state. 

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Nikki Haley draws over 300 to a town hall in Derry, New Hampshire

Former ambassador to the United Nations and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a 2024 Republican presidential candidate, speaks at a town hall in Derry, New Hampshire, on Nov. 28, 2023 (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser )

While the audience of some 325 on Tuesday evening didn’t compare to the South Carolina gathering, it was one of her largest crowds to date in the Granite State.

Among those attending was Republican state Sen. William Gannon, who endorsed Haley earlier this autumn.

Referencing the crowd, Gannon emphasized “they like Nikki. She’s warm. She’s personable. We have candidates who could possibly win a primary. These people know that she can win next November.” 

 

Also in the audience were two former U.S. senators.

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“She’s been a chief executive. She knows what kind of legislation is necessary to get an economy going. She’s a fiscal conservative,” former Sen. John E. Sununu told Fox News. “I think if she can convey those concepts of letting people make decisions for themselves, getting the country moving forward and not looking back, then I think she’s going to do well in New Hampshire.”

Sununu, the son of former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu and the older brother to current Gov. Chris Sununu, said he remains neutral in the GOP presidential nomination race, but is considering endorsing and helping support a candidate.

“Like every other voter in New Hampshire, I’m excited about the primary,” he said.

Former Sen. Gordon Humphrey told Fox News that he’s “leaning towards Nikki Haley. I think she’s far and away the best of all the candidates.”

Humphrey, a vocal anti-Trump Republican turned independent, pointed to what he described as Haley’s “heavyweight experience” as a governor and in foreign policy and national security through her tenure as ambassador to the United Nations.

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“She’s well-spoken. She has personality and charisma, sparkle, energy, dynamism,” he touted.

While she’s riding a political wave, Haley remains far behind Trump.

But Bartlett emphasized “what is important – on a cold night like this, opening up the doors. Doing an old-fashioned town hall. Taking questions. Introducing yourself to voters. She is doing everything right…She’s got some granite heels, and we’re going to see how far they can climb the mountain here.”

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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Trump maintains grip on GOP nod with victory in North Dakota caucuses

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Trump maintains grip on GOP nod with victory in North Dakota caucuses

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Former President Donald Trump inched closer to becoming the Republican nominee for president with another primary victory Monday, this time with a win in the North Dakota caucuses.

Trump won North Dakota’s caucuses, finishing first in voting conducted at 12 caucus sites, according to an Associated Press call of the race shortly after polls closed Sunday, earning the former president 29 delegates. 

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The win continues Trump’s dominant streak in this year’s GOP primary races, marking the 9th win in 10 tries for the former president as he closes in on representing the Republican Party for a third time. 

The only contest Trump has lost so far was last weekend’s primary in Washington D.C.

TRUMP WINS THE MICHIGAN GOP PRIMARY, BRINGING HIM ONE STEP CLOSER TO SECURING REPUBLICAN NOMINATION

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump pumps his fist as he departs after speaking during the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2024, in Oxon Hill, Md., Feb. 24, 2024.  (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The win comes as Trump’s campaign has largely shifted its attention to the general election and an all-but-certain rematch of 2020’s matchup against President Biden, with the Trump campaign telling Fox News Digital before this week’s slate of contests that the primary race is “over.”

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“Republican voters have delivered resounding wins for President Trump in every single primary contest and this race is over,” a spokesperson for the campaign said. “Our focus is now on Joe Biden and the general election.”

Nikki Haley, left, and Donald Trump, right

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, left, will be the only remaining candidate challenging former President Donald Trump, right.

DC PRIMARY REPRESENTS HALEY’S BEST CHANCE YET TO BEAT TRUMP

The former president already had a commanding lead heading into this week, holding ten times as many delegates as Haley before earning 29 in Monday’s North Dakota win.

The loss marked another blow to Haley’s campaign, though the former South Carolina governor has vowed to stay in the race as long as there is a path to victory.

Nikki Haley

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks at a rally during the District of Columbias Republican presidential primary at the Madison Hotel in Washington, D.C., on Friday, March 1, 2024. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

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That path will likely have to start appearing on Super Tuesday, where voters in 15 more states will head to the polls to determine who gets a share of 865 total delegates. While neither candidate can reach the needed 1,215 delegates to secure the nomination this week, continued dominance by Trump would give Haley a near impossible uphill climb. 

For its part, the Haley Campaign has invested heavily in a Super Tuesday turnaround, announcing a seven-figure ad buy earlier this month meant to target many of the states on the Tuesday slate.

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Column: For the second time in days, the Supreme Court helped make another Trump presidency possible

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Column: For the second time in days, the Supreme Court helped make another Trump presidency possible

The Supreme Court held Monday that a single state such as Colorado can’t prohibit Donald Trump from running for president as an insurrectionist under the 14th Amendment. It was the second time in less than a week that the court provided a crucial boost to the former president’s campaign to return to the White House.

The court’s strong inclination to restore Trump to the ballot was clear from the oral argument in the case last month, and indeed the justices reversed the Colorado Supreme Court unanimously. The “per curiam,” or “by the court,” opinion further emphasized that the court was speaking with a single voice.

But the justices were far from united on the rationale for reversal. There was a clear 5-4 split with two concurrences, one by the liberal justices — Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson — and the other by Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

The narrow, right-wing majority within the unanimous decision held that congressional legislation is needed to enforce Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits elected officials who engage in insurrection from holding office again. This clearly restricts the amendment’s force going forward.

All four of the concurring justices parted from requiring a federal law to enforce Section 3. For them, it was sufficient that the Colorado decision would impose an inconsistent and intolerable patchwork in which a major presidential candidate appeared on the ballot in some states but not in others. As the court wrote, “Nothing in the Constitution requires that we endure such chaos.”

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The opinion signed by the three Democratic-appointed justices, though styled as a concurrence, was fairly sharp in its differences with the majority. Most pointedly, they quoted Justice Stephen G. Breyer’s dissent in Bush vs. Gore, the 2000 opinion that remains a bête noire for liberals: “What it does today, the Court should have left undone.”

Barrett similarly felt that her five fellow conservatives had overreached. But she sounded a conciliatory note, writing that “this is not the time to amplify disagreement with stridency.”

So although the court was able to come together as to the result, surely a priority for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., its political divisions were evident just beneath the surface. It was no kumbaya moment.

In cases of this magnitude and political stakes, the court is better off when it’s unanimous or nearly so. Kagan and Jackson, who seemed to be leaning toward reversal at oral argument, and even Sotomayor, whose inclination was less clear, thereby stepped up in the service of the court’s institutional interest. Notwithstanding their fundamental differences with the majority, their concurrences permitted the court to conclude with a feel-good paragraph noting that “All nine Members of the Court agree with that result.” They were good soldiers and team players, which may engender goodwill with Roberts going forward.

Of course, with the rock-ribbed conservatives to the chief justice’s right, there may be scant prospect of similar goodwill. The court’s right has been in lockstep on ideologically divisive matters, and there’s no reason to expect that to change.

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Indeed, after last week’s decision to review the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ rejection of Trump’s claim of immunity from prosecution for Jan. 6, today’s decisive ruling is a second substantial victory for the president who appointed three of the justices.

Some observers speculated that the justices would view the two Trump cases, on immunity and the 14th Amendment, as a pair that they would split. Ruling for Trump on the Colorado case and against him on the Jan. 6 prosecution would communicate a sort of neutrality.

It’s difficult to see it that way now, though. Not that the court will hold that Trump is immune from the charges growing out of his perfidious attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 eleciton. The best he can hope for is a remand to the trial court and eventual loss on the merits of his immunity claim.

But the court last week gave Trump the invaluable gift of time, suspending the proceedings in Judge Tanya Chutkan’s U.S. District Court for at least several months, leaving serious doubt as to whether the case can be tried before the election.

If the polls are to be believed, a criminal conviction would likely persuade a significant number of voters to abandon Trump. That means the court’s decision to enter the fray and delay the case — when it could have let the D.C. Circuit’s thorough, bipartisan opinion stand — is probably the most important assist it could have given to Trump’s campaign.

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Moreover, while the court acted with some dispatch in the immunity case, it was nowhere near as quick as in other exigent cases. That includes the one it decided Monday, rushing to clarify the electoral landscape just in time for Colorado and other states to vote on Super Tuesday.

There’s plenty of room for debate as to why the court acted as it did in each case. But there’s no doubt about the impact. Should the country awaken on Nov. 6 to the horrifying prospect of a second Trump presidency, history will record that the Supreme Court played a critical role.

Harry Litman is the host of the “Talking Feds” podcast. @harrylitman

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Trump says Supreme Court ruling in Colorado case is 'unifying and inspirational'

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Trump says Supreme Court ruling in Colorado case is 'unifying and inspirational'

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EXCLUSIVE: Former President Trump told Fox News Digital in an exclusive interview that the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling Monday is “both unifying and inspirational,” while stressing the importance of the high court’s pending decision in the issue of presidential immunity. 

The Supreme Court sided unanimously with the 2024 GOP frontrunner in his challenge to Colorado’s attempt to kick him off the 2024 primary ballot. 

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The high court ruled in favor of Trump’s arguments in the case, which will impact the status of efforts in several other states to remove the likely GOP nominee from their respective ballots. 

SUPREME COURT TO HEAR TRUMP BALLOT REMOVAL CASE OUT OF COLORADO

The court considered for the first time the meaning and reach of Article 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars former officeholders who “engaged in insurrection” from holding public office again. Challenges have been filed to remove Trump from the 2024 ballot in over 30 states.

Former President Trump told Fox News Digital in an exclusive interview that the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling Monday is “both unifying and inspirational.” (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

“A great win for America. Very, very important!” Trump told Fox News Digital in an exclusive interview Monday morning. 

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“Equally important for our country will be the decision that they will soon make on immunity for a president — without which, the presidency would be relegated to nothing more than a ceremonial position, which is far from what the founders intended,” Trump told Fox News Digital. “No president would be able to properly and effectively function without complete and total immunity.” 

He added, “Our country would be put at great risk.” 

Former President Donald Trump

The Supreme Court sided unanimously with former President Trump in his challenge to Colorado’s attempt to kick him off the 2024 primary ballot. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

SUPREME COURT DECISION ON CASE BARRING TRUMP FROM COLORADO’S 2024 BALLOT COULD ARRIVE AS EARLY AS MONDAY

The Supreme Court last week agreed to review whether Trump has immunity from prosecution in special counsel Jack Smith’s election interference case. 

The justices moved to fast-track the appeal, and will hear oral arguments beginning April 22, with a ruling on the merits expected by late June. 

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Trump’s trial stemming from Smith’s investigation has been put on hold pending resolution of the matter. 

The decision will also impact Smith’s classified records case against the president. That trial has not yet been scheduled. 

As for Monday’s decision, Trump described it as a “big win for America.” 

“Today’s decision, especially the fact that it was unanimous, 9-0, is both unifying and inspirational for the people of the United States of America,” he told Fox News Digital. 

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In its unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court concluded that “states may disqualify persons holding or attempting to hold state office.” 

“But States have no power under the Constitution to enforce Section 3 with respect to federal offices, especially the Presidency,” the Supreme Court wrote.

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