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Ex-U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley makes her final case to voters in New Hampshire

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley is making her final case to voters in New Hampshire. Today, they'll choose between her and former President Donald Trump in a primary. Haley devoted considerable time and money to New Hampshire and has support from the governor and state officials, officials like Bill Gannon, a Republican state senator who's with us now. Senator, back in October, you endorsed Nikki Haley, writing in an op-ed that the next president will need good character and that you're supporting Haley because she is a leader that my children can look up to. Senator, in what way does Donald Trump not measure up to your requirements?

BILL GANNON: I - this is - she's run a really positive campaign, and the other side, being the Trump campaign, has been the negative force. All I've seen from the governor is positive. She's a charismatic person. She's a unifier. She's bringing all different types of people together. And that's what we're going to need in November. Under Trump, we've lost - the last six years, we've lost midterms that we should have won, and that's cost us statehouses, governors' seats, U.S. senators, congressmen, and it cost us some people at the state level - state legislatures, state senators. So we're looking for a win this year, and that's why we went to Nikki, because she's pulling everyone together. She's a conservative leader. She unifies the party. She's going to move America forward, as you can tell from - not only is she going to win, she's going to do very well for Republicans today, and she's going to clean up in the independents. And that's who we need in the fall. We can't win a November election unless we appeal to a broad base, not a narrow base.

MARTÍNEZ: Is there any way in particular...

GANNON: And she's the one to pull everyone together.

MARTÍNEZ: Senator, is there any way in particular that Donald Trump is not a leader that your children can look up to in, like, one way?

GANNON: Well, just even a simple way - the name-calling. That's what they see. And, you know, he has nicknames for everyone, as he always has. And we need someone who's above that, and we'll just stop there on the negative. And again, she's run such a positive campaign. She's spent so much time here. He really hasn't. He's come in the last week to do a couple events. And even his attendance at many of his - you know, he used to be the person who could fill stadiums. Now they're 75% empty. There's, like, 2,000 people, and he has one event per week. And that would be the biggest he'd pull, where Nikki's pulling in 1,000 to 1,500 four times a day. So I think it's going to show up in the polls. Her ground game - she's been here a lot of time.

MARTÍNEZ: Right.

GANNON: She came in my office six months ago, and she showed her experience as governor. She went through all the bills I was doing in the state. She took as much time as I wanted to go - I had everything I was doing this year. She went through every bill, and she helped me tweak them so they're better prepared. She could do that. Then I'd look at her foreign policy experience. Some in our party stick their head in the sand and say, you know, we should be pulling out of Ukraine. If we do that, then you sent - Putin's already said he's going to move forward to try to take Poland, try to take the Baltics. Then you're going to send a message to Israel that we're not going to be backing them, and Iran is going to see them.

MARTÍNEZ: Senator, Senator.

GANNON: We're going to have Hezbollah empowered.

MARTÍNEZ: I don't got much time with you, so I want to try and squeeze in as many...

GANNON: Sure.

MARTÍNEZ: ...Questions as possible.

GANNON: Sure.

MARTÍNEZ: So if at the end of the day, Trump is the nominee, though, will you still vote for him? Will you vote for...

GANNON: Yes.

MARTÍNEZ: ...The party?

GANNON: Yes.

MARTÍNEZ: You will.

GANNON: I will. I certainly will, and I hope - and I feel the same way with - I have friends in a dozen towns that I represent, and this is more an intramural thing. We're collegial on this, and they're not going to hold it against me that I'm supporting Nikki. We're all coming out of here - in a month or two, whoever's at the top, we will be unified.

MARTÍNEZ: You think it's going to be close, though, in New Hampshire. What gives you that confidence?

GANNON: Well, I'm on the street, and so I was at a lot of Nikki events, and I - sometimes I might sit up front, but I really like to get in the crowd or get in the back of a restaurant, talk to the everyday people who are there like myself and get a feel for it. And I never really hear much chatter for the other side. I hear everyone talking about, wow, this woman really has knowledge of everything. She's warm, compassionate, caring, and it shows. It shows when you talk to her. She's attentive to you. It's all about you and what you want to find out from her. It's not her just, you know, there for 30 seconds to just put her face in front of you. She's a warm, charismatic leader, and it comes across that she cares.

MARTÍNEZ: That's New Hampshire state Senator Bill Gannon. Senator, thanks.

GANNON: Thanks. Have a great day. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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