OPINION | Haley must exceed expectations at Iowa

Two weeks ago, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley cited slavery as the cause of the Civil War, more than anything else she has said in the nearly 11 months since announcing her candidacy for president last February. He attracted attention because he didn’t want to. Is it cowardice or calculation on her part to avoid a topic that remains sensitive to some in the Confederate-loving Republican Party? Telling the truth as the Republican presidential nominating process begins Mr. Haley’s aversion to this will be put to the test. Iowa State on January 15th.

And, let’s be honest, if not Haley, then Donald Trump is the candidate, and a potential repeat in 2020 could have even more threatening implications for American democracy. The former president had already claimed that Democrats were registering illegal immigrants to vote, the kind of propaganda that would serve as the basis for later claims that the election was illegal.

“The reality is that the threat from Donald Trump is so high that we should seize every opportunity we get,” said political consultant and Never Trumper. sarah longwell He recently spoke on CNN. “So if there’s any chance of getting some kind of shot in the primary, I think it’s worth a shot. And right now, Nikki Haley looks like that shot.”

Virtually no one expects Haley to beat Trump in Iowa. At Iowa, Haley holds a steady lead of over 30 points over the rest of the field. So she has created enough ripples to gain an advantage over her rivals, if not to displace them, and to “disappoint,” as her hopefuls put it, as the only alternative to Trump. We must establish ourselves as a powerful option. For that, she needs to check her three boxes.

First, she has to bet on what’s left of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ beleaguered campaign. Even his own supporters believe he is terminal. “Ryan Tyson, a longtime pollster for Mr. DeSantis and one of Mr. DeSantis’ closest advisers, said the campaign is now at a point where it needs to “make patients comfortable.” “It’s a phrase reminiscent of hospice care,” the New York Times recently reported. (The DeSantis campaign provided the paper with a statement from Tyson denying the quote.) The Times continued: The campaign and its allied super PACs have left even his most ardent supporters exhausted and demoralized. ”

In fact, DeSantis’ campaign was so bad that his candidacy was widely predicted to be doomed, and Haley will need to defeat him so thoroughly in order to claim an alternative role to Trump. Finishing third behind a candidate who is comically awkward when meeting real voters could be a loss of momentum for Haley.

Haley’s best shot at pushing DeSantis out of the race may be at the Jan. 10 Republican debate, when only she and DeSantis will be on stage. She has the verbal skill and guts to go after his obvious flaws. If she dominates DeSantis in the debates, defeats him in Iowa, and thereby knocks him out of the race (or pushes his approval rating into single digits), she will make this a real contest. I would check the first of the three boxes required for this.

Second, Haley needs to keep Trump’s chances of winning low. Is it less than 30 points? surely. Are you under 20? Well, that’s news and will fuel the week of “Is Trump Vulnerable?” Exactly what she needed. With just a week between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, she will be able to control as much free media coverage as possible, with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie a potential replacement for Trump. They need to dispel expectations and remind Republican primary voters of their support for Trump. Nomination is inevitable. (This is likely, but not inevitable.)

If Haley checks the second box (and keeps it close), her final task will be to cement that landing in her post-Iowa caucus results speech. She will receive the most attention from the media and primary voters since her campaign began. For her part, it will be time to claim some sort of victory, argue that she is the only viable alternative to Trump, and finally pivot her focus to attacking Trump.

Haley has so far avoided confronting Trump, but if she becomes the only option to replace Trump, she has no choice. But how should she do it? Democracy-supporting Americans believe she is an indicted criminal, the only president to have betrayed his oath by refusing to take over peacefully, a suspected thief of state secrets, and a frivolous dictator. I would like to see him take a tough stance and attack Trump as an errand boy. But while it may be satisfying to hear those words from Haley, it’s actually President Biden’s message (indeed, released on Saturday) to a Republican primary electorate filled with election deniers. It’s not a thing.

Another, but equally powerful, message, and one designed to drive Trump crazy, would be:Trump lost it. He spends his time ranting not only about the last election but also about whales and wind turbines causing cancer — like a crazy old man at the holiday dinner table. it seems like. He will scare everyone but die-hard Republicans.What’s worse, there’s a very good chance he’ll be convicted, whether he likes it or not. at least once From now until November. That may seem unfair, but we cannot ignore the enormous risk of nominating someone who has been convicted of a serious felony.Can you imagine what Joe Biden would say about that? MRepublicans, that would be a disaster. Bottom line: Trump brings too much baggage and carries too much risk for an election his party must win. ”

It would be bold, newsworthy, and gory for the media. Airing that clip over the course of a week would raise Haley’s profile, captivate her viewers, convince some independents in New Hampshire to vote for her, and, as mentioned earlier, give Haley all the support for President Trump. would cause confusion.

In short, if Haley knocks out DeSantis, narrows the margin, and delivers a Boffo victory speech in Iowa, we might actually see a competitive Republican race rather than the coronation of a wannabe dictator.

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