Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, clinging to the runner-up spot in the crowded 2024 Republican presidential contest, sought to dismiss the rise of Nikki Haley by reasserting his view of the race as a duel between himself and former President Donald Trump.
(Bloomberg) — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, clinging to the runner-up spot in the crowded 2024 Republican presidential contest, sought to dismiss the rise of Nikki Haley by reasserting his view of the race as a duel between himself and former President Donald Trump.
Yet the struggle between DeSantis and Haley, a former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador, was on display in Dallas on Friday as their campaigns made pitches to major Republican donors at an event hosted by billionaire Harlan Crow.
Haley’s campaign cited primary cash on hand and internal polling that showed her ahead of DeSantis in South Carolina and New Hampshire and tied in Iowa, according to a person familiar with the presentation.
The person added that if it’s a two-person race, one of them is Haley.
DeSantis’s team argued that consolidation of the race does not really help Haley, because if their candidate drops out, 90% of his voters would go to Trump, while if Haley or other candidates withdraw, those voters would switch to DeSantis, according to a person familiar with the presentation.
“People can support who they want,” DeSantis said at a campaign event in New Hampshire on Friday afternoon. “The nominee for the GOP is either going to be Donald Trump or it’s going to be me. There’s not a path for anybody else.”
Earlier: Nikki Haley Courts Wealthy Donors Like Harlan Crow for Campaign
DeSantis and the other candidates trail Trump by a wide margin. But after two strong debate performances, Haley has gradually moved up in polls, giving her the chance to supplant DeSantis and possibly deliver an upset to Trump in one of the early Republican primary states.
Haley is third in national polls, behind Trump and DeSantis, but is in second place in New Hampshire and South Carolina, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average.
Both DeSantis and Haley have poured money into advertisements in the early voting states before the primaries, which begin early in the new year.
Earlier: Haley, DeSantis Camps Boost Iowa Spending Ahead of GOP Primary
The Florida governor’s campaign is planning to make a $2 million advertising push in Iowa, while a super political action committee supporting Haley disclosed about $6.6 million in spending in Iowa and New Hampshire on Thursday.
Haley had about $11.6 million in cash on hand at the end of September, of which $9.1 million can be spent in the primary, according to her campaign.
DeSantis has just $5 million to spend on that race in comparison. He reported last week that he had raised $15 million in the third quarter, and a campaign official said the governor raised an additional $1 million since that report.
(Updates with Texas donor event, starting in second paragraph.)
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