Presidential hopefuls pivot their efforts to New Hampshire
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
After former President Donald Trump's decisive victory in Iowa's caucus, candidates for the Republican nomination are on to New Hampshire, which holds its primary next week. NPR's Sarah McCammon is in Bretton Woods up in northern New Hampshire. That's where former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is campaigning. Hey, Sarah.
SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Hey, Ari.
SHAPIRO: Where do things stand one day after Iowa?
MCCAMMON: Well, as usual after Iowa, it is all eyes on New Hampshire, which, by the way, is cold and snowy just like Iowa this time of year.
MCCAMMON: You know, Donald Trump's double-digit-victory in Iowa makes it difficult for any of his remaining rivals for the Republican nomination to label him as weak. Last night we saw Vivek Ramaswamy drop out and throw his support behind Trump. And these results leave Nikki Haley and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, you know, where they were before Iowa, really, which was vying for second place.
SHAPIRO: I know it's cold and snowy, but it sounds like you're in a disco inferno. What arguments are DeSantis and Haley making there in New Hampshire?
MCCAMMON: Well, former South Carolina Nikki Haley's campaign had hoped for a second-place finish in Iowa that she could point to as evidence that she is best positioned to take on Trump. She did not get that. But, you know, her campaign nonetheless released a digital ad this morning going after Trump and President Biden and saying that Haley offers a better choice than either of them. That ad did not mention Ron DeSantis, who did finish second, and that gives him some room to stay in the race. And it makes Haley's argument a little bit more challenging. Now, DeSantis started his day not here in New Hampshire but in Haley's home state of South Carolina with an event in Greenville that, by the way, Ari, is home to the evangelical college Bob Jones University. It's a conservative part of the state. DeSantis has been trying to win over those conservative voters who've continued to support Trump in large numbers. Here's DeSantis speaking this morning.
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RON DESANTIS: We wanted to be here. You know, Nikki Haley - this is her home state. You know, if she can't win this, then I don't see, you know, how she could say she's going to win, you know, on Super Tuesday or any of those other states.
MCCAMMON: Now, to be clear, it was a distant second-place finish for DeSantis after Trump. And Haley was not far behind him in third in Iowa, a state where DeSantis had invested a lot of time and effort and made a really big push with the white evangelical base. But now it's on to states where Haley is on more solid ground, first here in New Hampshire, where I am, and also her home state of South Carolina, which votes next month.
SHAPIRO: What is Haley's strategy in New Hampshire?
MCCAMMON: Well, I heard from Haley's Iowa campaign co-chair this morning, and she said she thinks, you know, this close third-place finish in Iowa will give Haley momentum going into the New Hampshire primary. She pointed out that Haley has spent a lot of time campaigning here and has been gaining on Trump in New Hampshire polls. Some of those have Haley within single digits of Trump, whereas DeSantis has been polling, you know, single digits here and invested, as we said, much more heavily in Iowa. Last night in Iowa, I spoke to some of Haley's supporters at her caucus night headquarters while results were coming in. Molly Topf of Windsor Heights outside Des Moines had just come from caucusing for Haley, and she said she considers Trump an extremist and hopes that Haley can build momentum as she moves on here to New Hampshire.
MOLLY TOPF: We've got a big country. We've got a lot of people to come out still. I mean, obviously, it's an indicator, but it's not over till it's over.
MCCAMMON: Now, New Hampshire Republicans tend to be more moderate relative to the party base. And candidates like Haley do tend to do well here. So that's part of the reason she's invested so heavily. As for whether you'll see Haley or Trump or DeSantis, for that matter, on a debate stage anytime soon, the answer appears to be no. Haley is refusing to debate if Trump doesn't appear. And, of course, so far he's refused to appear in all of the primary debates. DeSantis hasn't qualified for the New Hampshire debate. Still, all three of them - Haley as well as DeSantis and Trump - have several New Hampshire events on the calendar this week, beginning, as you can hear, tonight.
SHAPIRO: NPR's Sarah McCammon at that Haley campaign event in New Hampshire. Thanks, Sarah.
MCCAMMON: Thanks, Ari.
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