Donald J. Trump’s victory in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday provided him with the second of an early pair of victories in the fight for the Republican nomination that accelerated his push for the party to rally behind him and deepened the questions about the path forward for Nikki Haley, her only remaining rival.
Ms. Haley’s defeat in New Hampshire came eight days after the former president defeated Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis so thoroughly in Iowa that it knocked Mr. DeSantis from the race. Mr. Trump and his allies turned his first two victories into a milestone — declaring, after just the first two contests, that the party must now unite behind him to prepare for a November rematch between Mr. Trump and President Biden .
No Republican candidate has ever won the first two states without ultimately securing the presidential nomination, a fact Mr. Trump himself noted in his victory speech in Nashua, New Hampshire.
“When you win Iowa and New Hampshire, they’ve never had a loss – there’s never been one – so we won’t be the first, I can tell you that,” Mr. Trump said to the crowd.
Whatever happens next, Tuesday’s victory sealed Mr. Trump’s status as the party’s standard-bearer in the history books: Before Mr. Trump, the only Republicans who ever won both the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries were in session. presidents.
The race was called Tuesday evening by the Associated Press as the final polls closed, undermining any drama over the outcome. Minutes later, Ms. Haley rushed to speak first before her own voting party in Concord, New Hampshire, emphatically insisting that Mr. Trump’s nomination would be tantamount to conceding the general election to the Democrats.
“You can’t fix the mess if you don’t win the election,” she said. “A Trump nomination is a Biden victory and a Kamala Harris presidency.”
Ms. Haley pledged to move forward despite Tuesday’s defeat. “New Hampshire is first in the country — it’s not last in the country,” she said. “This race is far from over.”
Before Mr. Trump even took the stage Tuesday night, the former president called Ms. Haley “delusional” in a social media post, one of several he wrote in all caps as she spoke .
It was a preview of a caustic and sometimes crude speech by the former president, in which he used the national platform of a victory speech to criticize his latest rival, whom he will ultimately have to win over voters in the fall.
“She didn’t win. She lost,” Mr. Trump said, calling her a “phony” who he had “beat so badly.” He mocked Ms. Haley for giving an overconfident concession speech: “It’s not your typical victory speech, but let’s not let someone get the victory when she had a really bad night . »
Republicans almost immediately began ramping up pressure on Ms. Haley to resign.
“It’s time to give up,” said Taylor Budowich, chief executive of Mr. Trump’s super PAC. Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, who is part of the Republican leadership and had previously supported the former president, called out Mr. Trump on social media. the “presumed” candidate. And Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who has criticized Mr. Trump, formally supported him, declaring“Republicans must unite around one candidate.”
Ms. Haley, Mr. Trump’s former ambassador to the United Nations, had for months sought to limit the 2024 primaries to a head-to-head race with him. She got what she wanted on Sunday with Mr. DeSantis’ departure, leaving her with just one full day before voting begins in New Hampshire to make the case to independent voters and Republicans that she would be the nominee. strongest Republican against Mr. Biden.
In New Hampshire, she did everything she could, from pouring beers to holding babies, as she traveled the state alongside its Republican governor, Chris Sununu, who had supported her.
But New Hampshire voters appeared to ignore Ms Haley’s warnings that Mr Trump, who was indicted four times last year and faces 91 counts, would bring “chaos” to the campaign trail and would be particularly vulnerable to defeat. a general election.
The attacks between Mr. Trump, 77, and Ms. Haley, 52, had intensified sharply in recent days.
He returned to his nativist playbook to emphasize his birth name, then deliberately misrepresented it in social media posts, and even indulged in birth conspiracy theories about his eligibility for service because She is the daughter of Indian immigrants (she was born in America). Ms Haley questioned Mr Trump’s mental acuity after he confused her name with that of Nancy Pelosi, using the incident to push for generational change.
In her concession speech on Tuesday, she cited this verbal error as someone shouting “Geriatric!” »
Ms Haley told the crowd: “The first party to withdraw their 80-year-old candidate will be the party that wins this election. »
Now Ms. Haley must find traction beyond the first two states, where almost all the campaigning and advertising has taken place. His super PAC has spent more than $71 million so far — and 99.9% of those funds have gone to Iowa or New Hampshire, according to federal records.
Ms. Haley faces what could be an excruciatingly long month. She chose not to participate in the Nevada caucuses with Mr. Trump on February 8 after the state party established rules that favored her.
“I’m happy to report that we just won Nevada,” Mr. Trump said Tuesday. The official Nevada caucuses may still be two weeks away, but with Mr. Trump being the only serious Republican Party candidate vying for delegates, he should win them all.
The next significant clash between Mr. Trump and Ms. Haley will take place on February 24, during the primary in Ms. Haley’s home state of South Carolina, where she once served as governor.
As the calendar slows, it is Mr. Trump who is gaining the political momentum.
Over the past 10 days, four of Mr. Trump’s defeated rivals have all lined up behind him: Mr. DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota and South Carolina’s junior senator, Tim Scott, whom Ms. Haley is a first-time appointee to the position. the Senate.
“You must really hate her,” Mr. Trump joked to Mr. Scott on stage Tuesday.
Mr. Scott walked to the microphone next to Mr. Trump and replied: “I love you.”
On Monday, Mr. Trump was also endorsed by a Republican lawmaker from Ms. Haley’s home state, Rep. Nancy Mace, whom Mr. Trump had tried to oust after harshly criticizing his conduct during the Jan. 6 riots. 2021 at the Capitol. . Ms Haley had campaigned with Ms Mace in 2022.
“You’re seeing this moment of unification, whereas in a normal primary you might see it happen in June or July,” Senator JD Vance, Republican of Ohio, who campaigned, said in a brief speech. this week for Mr. Trump in New Hampshire. interview. “You see it in January, because the race is effectively over.”
Ms. Haley is committed to moving forward.
“There are dozens of states left to go,” Ms. Haley said Tuesday evening. “And next is my sweet state of South Carolina.”
The Haley campaign has already announced a $4 million ad campaign in South Carolina and will host fundraising trips to New York, Florida, California and Texas in the next two weeks to fill its coffers. Ms. Haley’s campaign and its allies have argued that Mr. Trump remains near the 50 percent support mark in the first two states, a sign of potential vulnerability because as a former president he is universally known.
Trump campaign strategists Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita predicted in their own memo ahead of Tuesday’s vote that Ms. Haley would be — in capital letters — “demolished and embarrassed” in South Carolina if she did not leave. the post. race before that.
Scott Reed, a veteran Republican strategist who had worked on a super PAC supporting former Vice President Mike Pence, said Ms. Haley had now ceded her best opportunity to score a quick victory.
“It’s a black-and-white thing: You either win or you lose,” Mr. Reed said, before recalling the infamous car rental trade wars of the past. “It’s hard to continue to be Opinion: ‘We’re number two or number three!’ – behind Hertz.