April 23, 2024

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley takes the stage at a Get Out the Vote marketing campaign rally forward of the New Hampshire major election in Exeter, New Hampshire, U.S., January 21, 2024.

Brian Snyder | Reuters

FRANKLIN, N.H. — Nikki Haley is throwing more durable punches, internet hosting extra occasions and showing alongside the favored Republican governor, John Sununu. However with simply hours left earlier than 2024’s first Republican presidential major, Haley is falling behind on an important metric: enthusiasm.

“Each single factor that Donald Trump has mentioned, or placed on TV, has been a lie,” Haley mentioned at a get out the vote occasion right here Monday morning at a small VFW corridor.

The close-packed crowd of between 100-200 folks listened intently and nodded on the proper moments. However they supplied few of the boisterous cheers and prolonged applause which have come to outline Trump’s carnival-like dwell occasions.

Quite the opposite, a number of of Haley’s applause strains have been met with silence.

This will have been be resulting from the truth that it was early within the morning on a freezing chilly Monday, in a state that’s saturated each 4 years with politicians making guarantees. However it may even have been as a result of not everybody within the crowd was planning to vote for Haley.

As the previous South Carolina governor races to make up for Trump’s lead within the polls, specialists mentioned higher-than-expected turnout on Tuesday can be essential. The issue for Haley is that enthusiasm drives turnout, and as Haley’s morning in Franklin illustrated, attendance shouldn’t be the identical as enthusiasm.

Bonnie, a retired trainer from Laconia, New Hampshire, mentioned she supported Haley “so far as she will go.” However that didn’t lengthen so far as voting for Haley within the Republican major, mentioned Bonnie, who declined to present her final title.

A registered Democrat, Bonnie mentioned she missed the deadline to change her registration over to the unbiased column. Registered Democrats are barred from voting within the GOP major, however undeclared or unbiased voters usually are not.

As for why she got here out that morning, Bonnie replied, “I need to see a candidate,” earlier than including that Haley is “the one probability we have now of taking votes away” from Trump.

“I taught center college. That’s why I acknowledge a center college bully,” Bonnie mentioned of Trump.

One other attendee, a self-described “political vacationer from New Jersey” who declined to present his title, mentioned he discovered Haley certified, however famous, “She’s combating the grip that Trump has, having taken over the social gathering.”

The capability crowd included just a few vocal Haley supporters. However the former U.N. ambassador is working out of time to maintain tempo with Trump, who simply hours earlier than, had packed a 700-seat opera home in Rochester.

“I’m assured she’ll do nicely sufficient to proceed” together with her marketing campaign, mentioned Thornton resident Pete Johnson, 69, after the VFW occasion. He added that he was not voting towards Trump, however “100% for Haley.”

On the Sunday evening Trump occasion, tons of of people that had waited in line for hours, in 19-degree climate, couldn’t get inside as a result of the occasion was over capability. Dozens of those folks caught round by the doorway, within the chilly, even after being denied entry.

Exterior the venue, the lengthy line of Trump supporters have been distracted from the bitter chilly by a pop-up market that sometimes accompanies his rallies.

An array of tables have been stationed close to the road, and distributors wheeled carts up and down the road. The sellers hawked scarves, winter hats, sweatshirts, baseball caps, stickers and posters — all emblazoned with Trump’s title or a MAGA slogan. Beneath is a pattern of the stickers on the market in Rochester.

Stickers on show at a Trump GOP Main rally in Rochester, N.H.

Kevin Breuninger | CNBC

In the meantime, vehicles carrying giant screens and audio system periodically drove by, blaring a video made by the anti-Trump nonprofit Lincoln Challenge, that described the previous president as a dictator. The vehicles drew profane jeers and hand gestures from these in line.

Polls present Trump holding a large lead, particularly amongst registered Republicans. Nonetheless, Haley is working a much more aggressive race within the Granite State than she did in Iowa, thanks largely to New Hampshire’s excessive proportion of undeclared voters.

After profitable final week’s Iowa caucuses in a landslide, Trump is trying to torpedo Haley and successfully wrap up the remainder of the first race by Tuesday evening.

Haley got here third in Iowa, stunting her momentum and muddying her message, that the first was a two-person race between her and Trump. On Sunday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the second-place finisher within the caucuses, abruptly dropped out and endorsed Trump.

In current days, Trump has additionally gained endorsements from a number of of Haley’s dwelling state lawmakers: South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott and Rep. Nancy Mace, who represents Haley in Congress.

Regardless of the setbacks and the lengthy odds, Haley’s formidable power of will was on full show Monday morning, as she vowed to remain within the race no matter Tuesday’s end result.

“If you happen to be a part of with me,” she instructed the VFW crowd, “I promise you: Our greatest days are but to return.”