Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has been catapulted into a tied position with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in one of the most key battleground states in the race for U.S. president, with another new poll released Thursday showing the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations would defeat President Joe Biden in the general election.
The good news for Mrs. Haley, who served two terms as governor in South Carolina, came as she blazed a heavy campaign trail in New Hampshire this week, including co-hosting an education town hall with the influential conservative group Moms For Liberty (M4L) under the slogan “Parents In Charge.”
M4L c0-founder Tiffany Justice called the 51-year-old mother of two young adult children a “champion of moms and dads,” and while the group hasn’t endorsed any candidate, it proved it considers Mrs. Haley a formidable contender in the crowded GOP primary race for the presidency when Mrs. Judge asked her to take a pledge that she would honor fundamental parents rights should she be elected.
Mrs. Haley unhesitatingly signed the pledge at Wednesday night’s meeting in Manchester, which she and Mrs. Justice headlined.
The pledge called on Mrs. Haley to, as U.S. president, “advance policies that strengthen parental involvement in decision-making, increase transparency, defend against government overreach, and secure parental rights at all levels of government.”
Following the town hall event, a CNN poll by the national public policy and research firm SSRS showed that Mrs. Haley was the only favored Republican over President Biden in a hypothetical general election matchup. Mrs. Haley had 49 percent of the votes, while President Biden garnered the second most at 42 percent.
The poll from the traditionally Democrat-leaning news outlet comes at the heels of a New Hampshire poll conducted by NMB Research, showing Mrs. Haley in a dead heat with Mr. DeSantis as the second pick to former President Donald Trump.
Days earlier, a poll conducted in Mrs. Haley’s home state of South Carolina put the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under the Trump administration ahead of President Trump.
In another poll, this one released over the Labor Day weekend by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Mrs. Haley trailed Mr. DeSantis on a second-choice ballot survey but still ahead of the other Republican contenders, including former Vice President Mike Pence.
Mr. Pence, who was campaigning in New Hampshire at the same time as Mrs. Haley, won only 2 percent support in the WSJ poll and has similarly frail showings in other recent surveys.
‘Best Chance to Win’
Even some of Gov. DeSantis’s big-name loyalists are crossing over to the Haley campaign.
This week, former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, who poured $1 million into Mr. DeSantis’s mid-term gubernatorial reelection campaign, told POLITICO that he is backing Mrs. Haley over Mr. DeSantis in the presidential race.
“I think Nikki Haley probably has the best chance to win the general election,” said Mr. Rauner, who made his wealth as a private equity executive.
With President Trump nearly in a league of his own with at least a 40 percent lead showing in most polls, Mrs. Haley still has a way to go to prove Mr. Rauner right.
Her climb in ranks as the only woman among the 15 Republican candidates looking to take over the Oval Office certainly puts her in a prime spot in the now pluralized first in the nation (FITN) primary states—the newly dubbed South Carolina as the FITN state by the Democratic National Committee and the longstanding FITN state of New Hampshire, which has vowed not to yield to the new DNC schedule.
Woke Ideology Concerns
On Wednesday night, Mrs. Haley appeared to score major points with parents concerned about woke ideology and veiled transgender activity going on in public schools.
Among her proposals to combat the radicalization of America’s schools is to end the U.S. Department of Education’s power to dictate what federal educational funds allotted to states are used for.
Mrs. Haley also urged parents to unify against the growing mindset of school administrations that they should be making life decisions for their children.
“What bothers me is they’re trying to take custody of our kids. And we can’t allow that to happen,” said Mrs. Haley. “They’re our kids; we make the decisions on what happens in their day-to-day life.
She spoke about a New Hampshire high school student who recently told her that the subject of transgenderism is brought up in every one of her classes but that she is afraid to speak up about it out of fear of being ostracized.
Former New Hampshire State Rep. Elizabeth Gay, a moderate Republican leaning towards Mr. DeSantis, told The Epoch Times she is growing increasingly impressed with Mrs. Haley. “You can tell she won’t let anyone push her around in Washington D.C.,” said Ms. Gay.
Several independent voters in the crowd, like Joan Franklin of Litchfield, New Hampshire, told The Epoch Times that while they remain undecided who they will ultimately back in the primary, Mrs. Haley’s performance during the GOP debate last month “really caught” their attention.
“I also like that she’s a woman,” said Mrs. Franklin.
Jan Considine of Nashua, also a New Hampshire independent, said she also believes Mrs. Haley is well-rounded for the job as president because she has both domestic experience as a governor and foreign policy experience as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. She named Mrs. Haley’s support for President Trump as “her only drawback,” while staunch Trump supporters in the crowd labeled Mrs. Haley as a “solid alternative.”
With the projected date of both South Carolina and New Hampshire’s primaries to be sometime in January, Mrs. Haley has about four months to maintain her momentum and close the giant gap between her and President Trump.
Second GOP Debate
She also has another big opportunity to attract more supporters with the second GOP debate slated for Sept. 27.
Consistent with the adage that everyone likes an underdog, Mrs. Haley’s rising popularity may very well have been born out of her spar with another underdog in the race—Vivek Ramaswamy, during the first GOP debate in August.
It was sparked by Mrs. Haley censoring Mr. Ramaswamy for his stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
When she accused him of demonstrating a lack of experience in foreign policy, Mr. Ramaswamy mocked her for former days in the defense contract industry.
“I wish you well in your future career on the boards of Lockheed and Raytheon,” Mr. Ramaswamy said.
Mrs. Haley served on the board of directors for Boeing, which, along with Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, is one of the three largest U.S. defense contractors.
She resigned from Boeing in 2020 over what she said in a letter was the defense contractor giant’s request for a bailout during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I cannot support a move to lean on the federal government for a stimulus or bailout that prioritizes our company over others and relies on taxpayers to guarantee our financial position,” Mrs. Haley wrote in a letter to Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun and chairman Larry Kellner. “I have long held strong convictions that this is not the role of government.”
According to Defense Daily, Boeing asked for $60 billion in government-funded bailout money.”
Initially, Mr. Ramaswamy captured faddish attention after the exchange and the morning after analysts oozed over his quick-on-the-feet responses, political astute intellect, and articulate one-liners that some likened to a polished version of Mr. Trump’s less refined zingers.
But as quickly as his popularity swelled, later polls, including a new one conducted by Morning Consult, showed the 38-year-old self-made biotech millionaire has slipped in the ranks.