Trump allies and MAGA luminaries move to kill off the Haley-for-VP buzz


It’s not unusual for Trump to survey donors, outside advisers and members of his Mar-a-Lago resort on personnel matters. He has also pressed allies for their impressions of other prominent Republicans in recent months including former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Sens. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Reps. Byron Donalds (R-Fl.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Arizona Republican Kari Lake.

But Haley has been the subject of his most recent focus.

Haley’s polling surge has alarmed some staunch Trump confidants who are acutely aware that the former president pays close attention to survey data. In interviews and public appearances, they have emphatically swatted down the idea of Haley for vice president in hopes that Trump won’t warm to the idea.

Former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon, who
warned attendees at a conservative conference
last weekend that the GOP hierarchy would try to push Trump to pick Haley, told POLITICO that the former ambassador used “outdated Republican talking points” and embraced “Fox News-laundered neoliberal neocon policies that MAGA finds unacceptable.”

Trump’s campaign has dismissed any chatter of vice president picks as premature, maintaining that he is focused on winning the upcoming primary contests. A campaign spokesperson did not comment for this story. A Haley spokesperson declined to comment as well.

During a phone conversation with one ally about Haley, Trump indicated that he was aware of the criticisms of her but nonetheless wanted to get this person’s take about the former ambassador, according to a person familiar with the call.

The two have had a complicated relationship. Haley backed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio over Trump in the 2016 Republican primary. But after he was elected, Trump picked her to be his U.N. ambassador, a post she held for two years. Haley broke sharply with Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, when she said Trump would be “judged harshly by history.”

But Haley would later try to patch things up. A few months after the Capitol siege, she said she wouldn’t run for president in 2024 if Trump did. The former ambassador also tried to arrange a meeting with Trump at Mar-a-Lago but was
turned down
by the former president, who was rankled by her criticism.

After the 2022 midterm elections, Haley ultimately decided to run for president. She broke the news to Trump, who at that point had already entered the race, in a phone call.

Within some conservative circles, there is an emerging belief that Haley’s potential electoral strength — polls show her leading former President Joe Biden nationally and in key battleground states by wide margins — make her a conventional choice to serve as a running mate. Trump allies have moved swiftly to express their concerns that she’s not aligned with his base. And they’ve done so with little subtlety; deploying a full-scale media barrage of anti-Haley attacks.

Donald Trump Jr., the former president’s eldest son, took to Newsmax to declare he would “go to great lengths to make sure” his father didn’t pick Haley. And Tucker Carlson, a former Fox News host who is frequently in touch with the former president,
said on a conservative podcast
this week that he would “advocate against” a Trump-Haley ticket “as strongly as I could.”

Republican strategist Roger Stone, a longtime outside adviser to the former president, told POLITICO that he too would be “personally opposed to such a selection, because I believe that [Haley’s] views are so antithetically different than President Trump’s views.”

Stone stressed that he had not personally spoken to Trump about Haley.

Vice presidential picks are not typically made until right before the party convention, which will be held next summer. But the early pile-on against Haley underscores how Trump’s base has begun to mobilize well ahead of schedule. To those in the MAGA wing of the party, the stakes are high: Whoever Trump selects could be seen as his heir apparent and a prospective future party leader. Trump, if elected, can only serve four years.

Trump himself has downplayed the importance of the vice president pick.

“The one thing I would say, nobody ever votes for the vice president,” Trump said earlier this year.

Haley has said that she has no interest in being anyone else’s vice president and is confident she will continue to rise in the primaries.

“It’s not even a conversation, and it doesn’t matter what candidate wants me to answer it: I don’t play for second,” Haley told Christian Broadcast Network. “It’s offensive when anybody says that, ‘Oh, she wants to be vice president.’ You don’t do something like this to be vice president. You don’t sacrifice emotionally, mentally, physically with your family, everything to come in second.”

That hasn’t stopped one of her top rivals, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, from suggesting otherwise. DeSantis has tried to distinguish himself from Haley by saying that she is not seriously running for president but rather to be Trump’s vice president. His campaign on Tuesday launched a website, TrumpNikki2024.com.

Despite the relatively early stage of the race, the vice presidential posturing and speculation is already underway. Stefanik, one of Trump’s most forceful defenders on Capitol Hill, visited the former president at his Mar-a-Lago resort this week, and posted a picture on X of the two flashing a thumbs-up. And when Trump held a rally with Noem in September, a
big-screen TV
situated above them read “Trump-Noem 2024.”

How interested Trump is in Haley is not clear, and many of those close to the former president are skeptical he would actually pick her. They point out that he prizes loyalty and that Haley — who Trump picked for the U.N. post — ended up challenging Trump for the nomination after initially saying she wouldn’t.

Trump has spent much of the past year focusing his attacks on DeSantis. But some Trump allies see indications that he might be willing to move against Haley, who has emerged as a favorite of a GOP donor class that is eager to stop Trump. Without explicitly naming Haley during a recent speech in New Hampshire, the former president assailed “candidates who do the bidding … of Wall Street” and “the Washington establishment.”

It isn’t the first time Haley has been mentioned as a prospective Trump veep pick. While running for reelection in Nov. 2019, Trump
acknowledged rumors
he would replace then-Vice President Mike Pence with Haley but shot down the idea that he would do so.

Some in the party see Haley as a potentially strong selection, and someone who has been able to appeal to a swath of the party beyond the MAGA set. During a recent appearance at The New York Times DealBook Summit, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said that she would potentially add to Trump’s base of supporters and that the eventual selection should be geared toward “addition, not subtraction.”

Don’t tell that to members of Trump’s hardcore base.

“There’s only one good thing about Nikki Haley,” said conservative activist Gavin Wax, who recently appeared onstage with the former president at a New York gala dinner. “It’s that everyone in MAGA hates her guts.”


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