Nikki Haley gains crucial endorsement from Koch network in bid to challenge Trump

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NEW YORK (AP) — Americans for Prosperity, the political arm of the powerful Koch network, publicly endorsed Nikki Haley’s presidential campaign on Tuesday, pledging to help Haley defeat former President Donald Trump by an entire army of activists — and even unlimited money. In the GOP primary race.

Read more: Nikki Haley will launch a $10 million advertising campaign next month in Iowa, New Hampshire.

“AFP Action America is proud to throw our full support behind Nikki Haley, who will give her the chance to turn the page in this political era, win the Republican nomination and defeat Joe Biden next November,” AFP President and CEO Emily Seidel wrote. A note explaining the group’s decision.

“She has what it takes to take on our nation’s greatest challenges and lead the policy agenda to ensure our nation’s best days are ahead. With the fundamentals and data capabilities that we bring to this competition, there is no other organization that can help her do that,” he said.

The grant could help Haley address one of her biggest strategic liabilities.

Although in recent months the UN Ambassador campaign has lost significant manpower in the pre-state to get her supporters to vote. But now she has inherited what may be the most powerful conservative grassroots organization in the country. The Koch Network, formerly known as the Koch Brothers, has been building a large contingent of paid conservative activists and volunteers in key states for several years.

This summer and fall alone, Americans for Prosperity Advocates contacted six million primary voters in person at their homes or by phone, Seidel said.

The development is particularly painful for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has championed conservative priorities in his state, but is struggling to emerge as an obvious Trump alternative in the 2024 GOP primary race. However, it is unclear whether the endorsement will help weaken Trump’s grip on the Republican presidential nomination, given that he holds a commanding lead over DeSantis and Haley in all polls.

In the spring, the Koch Network began running ads in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — the first three states on the GOP presidential primary calendar — focusing on questions about Trump’s candidacy against Biden in next fall’s general election. And yet, Trump is the overwhelming frontrunner in the race.

Read more: GOP candidates condemn their own party for the 2023 election results

Seidel said Tuesday that Americans for Prosperity will begin refocusing Haley’s primary and general election campaigns through strategic ad investments, mailers and voter relations, connecting thousands of conservative activists with the group’s efforts in recent months gathering data from the Republican primary. Voters to decide the most effective arguments against Trump.

At the same time, Seidel said her organization will focus on persuading loyal general election voters, who typically don’t vote in primaries, to get behind Haley in this year’s fast-approaching nomination race.

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheng dismissed Americans for Prosperity as the “political arm of the China-first, America-last movement.”

“No amount of shadow money in partnership with George Soros, the Democrats, and the never-Trump RINOs in Washington will stop the MAGA movement or President Trump from becoming the Republican nominee and defeating Crook Joe Biden,” Cheng wrote. A statement in response to Haley’s endorsement.

The DeSantis camp was not happy.

In a statement, DeSantis spokesman Andrew Romeo equated Koch’s support to his contributions to the Trump campaign.

“Congratulations to Donald Trump for getting Coke’s endorsement. Like clockwork, the pro-open borders, pro-prison abolition bill establishment is lining up behind a moderate who has no mathematical way of defeating the former president. “Every dollar spent on Nikki Haley’s candidacy should be reported in kind to the Trump campaign. No one has a stronger record than Ron DeSantis in defeating the institution, and this time will be no different.

However, Coke’s network is confident that Haley is in a better position to defeat Trump and Biden than DeSantis.

Read more: Nikki Haley will launch a $10 million advertising campaign next month in Iowa, New Hampshire.

In a poll note, senior adviser Michael Palmer highlighted Haley’s “sustained momentum in recent months,” with many primary voters in Iowa and New Hampshire just beginning to pay close attention to the race.

“Gov DeSantis has been an excellent Florida rate leader,” Seidel said on Tuesday’s conference call. But all the evidence we’ve shared on this call is that Nikki Haley is the strongest candidate in this race, and that’s why we’ve decided to back her.

Meanwhile, Haley said she was honored to have the support of Americans for Prosperity, “including millions of grassroots members across the country.”

“AFP Action members know there is too much trouble sitting on the sidelines in this election,” she said in a statement. “This is a choice between liberty and socialism, individual liberty and big government, fiscal responsibility and passive debt. We have a country to protect and I am grateful to have AFP Action on our side.

AP Writer Meg Kinard in Columbia, South Carolina contributed.

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