Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s campaign manager told GOP donors Tuesday that her primary fight against former President Donald Trump is a battle for the future of the Republican Party and the country.
“This is a fight for freedom,” campaign manager Betsy Ankney said at a briefing with the American Opportunity Alliance, a consortium of GOP megadonors, according to a source familiar with the campaign’s presentation.
Ankney also warned that nominating Trump could cost the GOP not just the White House but control of Congress, as well.
It’s as stark as any language yet from the Haley campaign to set the stakes of her battle against Trump, who won the party’s first two presidential nominating contests, in Iowa and New Hampshire, and has shown no signs of slowing down.
Trump is set to pick up more delegates next week thanks to Nevada’s split nominating contests, because he is the only major candidate competing in the state’s caucuses. Haley and Trump will face off later this month in South Carolina, where Trump is the heavy favorite despite Haley’s experience as governor in her home state.
Haley is looking to stockpile resources for a protracted state-by-state fight against Trump. It would require a massive amount of cash to spread resources across the country, and Haley has spent part of this week on a fundraising swing in New York.
Despite Trump’s strength within the party, Haley and her allies have stressed that they will have the resources to take him on. Haley touted her recent fundraising boosts after the New Hampshire primary. SFA Fund Inc., the main super PAC supporting her, announced it raised $50 million in the last six months of 2023. And it got a boost this month from billionaire Ken Griffin, who gave $5 million to the group, CNBC reported.
The American Opportunity Alliance, which includes some of the biggest names in the Republican donor world, heard from Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaigns late last year. Trump campaign co-chair Susie Wiles also met with the group of donors Tuesday, according to The Washington Post. The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ankney warned the Republican donors that Trump’s nomination could be a drag on Republicans further down the ticket, noting serious GOP losses in each of the last three national elections since Trump became president in 2017. She said Republicans could lose control of the House if Trump is at the top of the ticket, noting that 18 Republicans represent districts President Joe Biden won in 2020.
Ankney also said it is key for the party to make gains in the Senate in 2024, because Republicans have less favorable Senate maps in 2026 and 2028.
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Ankney’s message also echoed some of Haley’s recent criticisms of Trump on the campaign trail, arguing that he is an agent of chaos.
Ankney noted that Trump spent the week after the New Hampshire primary targeting Haley, telling the donors he is “throwing the kitchen sink at us.” Haley has struck a similar tone on the campaign trail, as she has criticized Trump’s “temper tantrum.”
Those early results have prompted many powerful Republicans to declare the nominating fight over and anoint as Trump the winner.