DeSantis and Haley struggle to emerge as Trump’s preferred Republican alternative in Iowa


Dubuque, Iowa (AP) - 2nd place iowa Caucuses are rarely that important.

The rivalry between GOP presidential candidates Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley has become a major story ahead of the Republican primary vote on Jan. 15. Competition to emerge as preferred option in Iowa Former President Donald Trump for the party's 2024 nomination.

Florida Governor DeSantis has said he expects to win Iowa despite trailing Trump in the polls. She played the former Haley South Carolina The governor who was Trump's UN ambassador, a puppet of wealthy donors and someone who has flip-flopped on key issues.

Haley, who hopes to unseat the better-organized DeSantis in Iowa, has accused him of misrepresenting his record, particularly on taxes, and mischaracterizing himself as pro-China.

The stakes are huge for both.

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If DeSantis defeats Trump in the caucuses, he will advance in the race. Haley's allies believe they could upset her if she surpasses DeSantis. The thinking is that finishing second will get him promoted to first new HampshirePrimary on 23rd January and Opportunity to directly compete with Trump in South Carolina one month later.

“I don't know if we will reach second place or not. I certainly hope so. "This is our mission," said Mark Harris, chief strategist for Stand for America, a pro-Haley superpolitical action committee. win."

He has stepped up his attacks on Haley in speeches and campaign ads, which Haley has said is a sign that he is taking her more seriously. Ahead of Trump's speech on Friday, his campaign released a statement about going after the former president on immigration.

Her campaign said, "Nikki Haley is on the rise." “Donald Trump is scared. It's a two-man race."

But Haley will also have to fend off DeSantis. His camp has attacked him for several recent comments about the Civil War cause and Iowa's role in the GOP nominating process. In an interview With NBC News and the Des Moines Register, DeSantis called Haley a "fake."

DeSantis repeatedly referred to comments Haley made in New Hampshire last week when she suggested New Hampshire voters would "correct" the Iowa results. Haley tried to play down the comment by explaining it as a sign of good-natured rivalry between the two early-voting states.

"We're running out of time in the Iowa caucuses," DeSantis told more than 300 people gathered at a bar in downtown Dubuque on Saturday. “And no, your votes do not need to be corrected by another state. I don't care what Nikki Haley says."

Haley answered a recent question in New Hampshire about the cause of the Civil War without mentioning slavery. He withdrew my answer after a day And said that "of course" slavery was a cause of the war.

While the original remarks drew rebukes from Democrats and GOP rivals, particularly former new Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who noted that South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union over slave rights, never raised the issue of the dust-up at four Iowa events the following weekend.

What Haley referenced at an event Friday, as she has regularly in recent weeks, was an ad aired by a DeSantis-aligned super PAC blaming her for not raising fuel taxes while she was governor of the South. Has been accused of subverting the pledge. Carolina.

''Every single one of those ads is a lie,'' he said, adding that he opposed gas tax-hike proposals until they offered supporters a compromise that would result in an even larger income tax increase. Came with deductions. The proposal lapsed without action.

DeSantis has shaken up his campaign staff and reiterated his message several times over the past year and is betting heavily on a strong Iowa finish. He visited all 99 counties with the assistance of an aligned super PAC, Never Back Down, which sent organizers door to door to recruit supporters over the summer and autumn.

Haley's team began organizing much later and just last month won the endorsement of Americans for Prosperity, the political arm of the billionaire Koch brothers. That group is now canvassing voters and organizing for Haley.

Still, the pro-Haley super PAC Stand for America has emerged as the biggest spender, buying more than $27.5 million on ads since the beginning of last year, according to media tracking firm AdImpact. Two DeSantis-allied groups, Never Back Down and Fight Right, have together spent nearly $26 million over the same period.

Former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, a Republican who has not endorsed in the race, called Haley's comments about Iowa an unfortunate mistake, but not one that will derail his campaign. His successor, Governor Kim Reynolds, has endorsed DeSantis.

“There is another possibility. "If she comes in second here, there will be tremendous momentum in New Hampshire," Branstad said Friday at an event where Haley was speaking. “It's going to be difficult because DeSantis has spent a lot of time here and he has the support of the governor.”

Candidates running in Iowa work to show respect for the state's traditions and its leading position, although some question Iowa's ultimate influence. The last Republican to win a disputed caucus and become the GOP nominee was George W. Bush in 2000.

"You can't be hostile or dismissive of people whose votes you want," said Ellen Carmichael, a Republican campaign messaging strategist who has worked on presidential campaigns. “For me, that was such an unexpected mistake. They take it seriously, with such reverence for the system. You don’t want to diminish that.”

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