A patchwork anti-Trump crew is rallying around Nikki Haley

Around the same time Hutchinson called on New Hampshire voters to support Haley, GOP Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont
did the same
: “After years of controversy, violent rhetoric and growing polarization, the very last thing we need is four more years of Donald Trump,” Scott said in a statement, calling Haley “our only chance to ensure America has the choice it deserves in November.”

Just over a week earlier, former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who’s been eyed as a possible third-party candidate, backed Haley ahead of Iowa’s caucuses, calling her “the strongest chance” for Republicans to put forward the best possible candidate in the general election.

And the most-prominent New Hampshire newspaper, the Union Leader, joined the chorus this weekend,
endorsing Haley
, touting both her character and her experience. Despite its conservative bent, the paper backed Joe Biden in the 2020 general election, defying its long history of supporting conservatives in the general election.

“If you can select a Republican ballot on Tuesday,” the editorial said, “we urge you to select Nikki Haley as your next president. New Hampshire is ready for a change. America is ready for a change. The world is ready for a change. We want a better option than we have had for the past eight years, and Nikki Haley is that option.”

The slate of late-breaking endorsements would normally be a boon for a candidate hoping to sway voters in the waning days of a campaign. But for Haley, it also brings risk.

The former U.N. ambassador has, like most of the GOP candidates, painstakingly avoided going after Trump head on. Only recently did she
ramp up her criticism
of the former president, and rule out the possibility that she would accept a job as Trump’s vice president.

While anti-Trump messaging may charm New Hampshire’s more moderate electorate — which includes a significant number of independent voters — it’s unlikely to appeal to the conservatives in other early voting states. And in recent campaign stops in New Hampshire, Trump has attempted to play up Haley’s independent support, claiming that liberals are attempting to “infiltrate the Republican primary,” in New Hampshire.

Haley is also still missing the support of two of the most nationally recognizable Trump detractors: former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Christie’s exit from the race earlier this month was poised to be a win for Haley, as polls indicated that likely Christie voters eyed Haley as a possible second choice in the race. But Christie, whose campaign hinged on taking on Trump, slammed Haley on his way out the door.

“She’s gonna get smoked,” Christie
was caught
saying of Haley — although he did not reference her by name. “And you and I both know it. She’s not up to this.”

Haley is still trailing Trump by double digits in recent polls of Granite State voters, her surge appearing to slow. Even Sununu, her top surrogate in the state, has
tempered expectations
for her on Tuesday.

“She doesn’t have to win. I mean, look, nobody goes from single digits in December to ‘you absolutely have to win’ in January,” he said Sunday during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Trump, meanwhile, has scooped up the support of three of the other also-rans: North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, Vivek Ramaswamy and most recently (and most stingingly) Sen. Tim Scott, Haley’s fellow South Carolinian, as well as two of his 2016 primary foes, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

“It comes right down to, what does America need for the next president?” Scott said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“The only conclusion,” he added later, “is Donald Trump.”

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