Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley shrugged off recent criticism from Donald Trump, who questioned her toughness just a day before the crucial Iowa caucuses. In an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday, Haley dismissed Trump’s remarks, attributing them to his realization that the GOP primary is evolving into a two-person race.
Despite Trump’s assertion that Haley is “not tough enough,” she remained unfazed, stating, “Everybody that’s ever worked for me or worked with me, no one ever questions my toughness.” Haley, who previously served as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, found Trump’s comments comical and suggested that he is now acknowledging the changing dynamics of the primary.
As recent polls indicate Haley’s growing momentum in the GOP primary, Trump redirected his attacks from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to the former South Carolina governor. At a Sunday rally in Iowa, Trump expressed his views on Haley’s suitability for the presidency, stating that she did a “good job” but is not the right fit due to her “wrong thought process” and lack of toughness.
The final Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom poll revealed Trump maintaining a substantial lead with 48% of likely caucusgoers, while Haley secured 20%, and DeSantis garnered 16%. However, Haley’s potential for challenging Trump may lie in New Hampshire, where a recent CNN poll showed her narrowing Trump’s lead in the upcoming primary to single digits.
Trump received an endorsement from Florida Senator Marco Rubio on Sunday, a notable figure given that Haley had endorsed Rubio in the 2016 South Carolina primary, which Trump won decisively. Responding to Rubio’s endorsement, Haley emphasized the importance of voters’ endorsements over elected officials’, stating, “I want to win the people’s vote because at the end of the day, they’re the ones that I’m going to be serving, they’re the ones I’m going to be working for, they’re the ones I’m going to be fighting for.”
Earlier on Sunday, Haley gained an endorsement from former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. When asked about Hogan’s backing, Haley expressed a willingness to accept support but clarified that endorsements are not something she actively seeks or fights for. The dynamic between Trump, Haley, and other contenders sets the stage for a closely watched and evolving GOP primary.