Indian American Nikki Haley has kicked off her against-all-odds campaign for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination with visits to two key states portraying herself as a “badass” woman who can get things done, and with a Wall Street fundraiser scheduled for Tuesday.
A Rasmussen poll last week showed her beating President Joe Biden by 4 per cent in a head-to-head contest, with a support of 45 per cent to 41 per cent for him — an improvement from a Public Policy Polling survey the previous week showing her behind by 6 per cent.
However, she will first have to get her party’s nomination, which seems a monumental task given the big lead of former President Donald Trump.
In the latest Fox News poll, she was tied for the third place with former Vice President Mike Pence at 7 per cent, while Trump polled 43 per cent and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is yet to announce his run, 28 per cent.
Against these odds, as the first to take on Trump with her campaign launch on February 15, Haley began her long trek towards getting the party nomination with campaign stops in New Hampshire starting the next day and in Iowa the next week.
Iowa will be the first state to hold the intra-party election to choose its candidate and New Hampshire the second just under a year from now and a candidate’s showing in those states could determine the future.
The third will be her home state, South Carolina, which brought her national attention as the first woman to become its governor.
While campaigning with voters builds a base, perhaps more important is money in US politics: $6.6 billion was spent in the 2020 presidential election.
And so, Haley begins her high-profile fundraising at a Wall Street event with tickets ranging between $3,300 and $6,600, the maximum allowed by the Federal Election Commission, that is hosted by three top finance executives in New York, CNBC reported.
The cable station identified the hosts as Gautam Chawla, a vice chair at Barclays; Joseph Konzelmann, a partner at private equity giant TPG, and Evan Baehr, who runs a venture capital firm.
From New Hampshire, Vikram Mansharamani, who had run for the Republican nomination for the Senate giving him insights into state politics, told IANS: “Haley had a spectacular reception in New Hampshire. Wherever she went, there were overflowing crowds of people trying to spend time with her and to hear her message.
“In today’s highly polarised political environment, her unifying message should resonate.”
With his deep connections across his state, Mansharamani, who is a businessman, author and a former lecturer at Harvard, hosted an event “to help introduce her to a diverse group of New Hampshire voters that included leading activists, government and business leaders, philanthropists, and engaged citizens”.
Haley said at one of her stops in the state that if the party wanted to win, it should “start focusing on new generational leadership and the best way to do that is to put a ‘badass’ woman in the White House”, according to the Concord Monitor.
At another town hall meeting, she was introduced by retired Army General Don Bolduc, who became the party’s Senate candidate last year and is considered a part of the party’s hard right.
Haley’s “compassion and her empathy and her complete dedication to public service, putting herself last and everybody else first, I think is what we need in this country and that is why I am supporting her”, he told the Monitor.
In a campaign stop in Iowa, she gently took on Trump in whose cabinet she had served and who is the candidate to beat, calling him “my friend”.
“I think he was the right President at the right time”, she said, according to the Iowa Capital Dispatch.
“But we, as dire a situation as this is, as much as all the media and everybody wants to talk about the past, we need to leave the status quo in the past,” she added in an apparent reference to Trump’s obsessive belief that he was the real winner of the 2020 election.
According to the Dispatch, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has not endorsed Haley, but she introduced her at an event saying: “I’ll tell you, one mistake that most people make when challenging this lady right here is underestimating her.”