Jan 18, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Trump and Haley battle for Tim Scott endorsement

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Former President Trump and Nikki Haley both called former rival Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) this week in an effort to win his endorsement ahead of the New Hampshire primary, a person familiar with the calls told Axios.

Why it matters: An endorsement ahead of Tuesday's primary could help Haley, the former governor of Scott's home state, catch Trump in the make-or-break contest. A Trump endorsement would further the GOP's consolidation behind the runaway favorite.

Driving the news: Trump's call to Scott, which was first reported by CNN, came soon after Monday's Iowa caucuses, while Haley's call came on Wednesday, according to the same source.

  • Scott and Haley did not connect by phone but they have texted each other since.
  • Fellow South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has endorsed Trump, has also privately pushed Scott to back Trump sooner rather than later.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who reached out to Scott soon after the senator dropped out of the presidential contest in November, has not called him this week.
  • A spokesperson for Scott declined to comment.

The intrigue: Haley, who appointed Scott to the Senate when she was governor in 2013, did not call Scott in the month after he dropped out, as Politico first reported.

  • Scott hasn't yet made a decision on an endorsement but could endorse before next Tuesday's primary, according to someone familiar with his thinking.
  • Scott's endorsement could have an impact on the South Carolina primary on Feb. 24 — but if Trump dominates the New Hampshire contest next week, the race could be over well before then.

Zoom in: Scott could give a boost to either Haley or Trump in New Hampshire.

  • While it was never his strongest state in the primary, polls often reflected broad approval and likability.

Zoom out: Prominent Republicans are rallying behind Trump in the wake of his dominant 30-point victory in Iowa, stressing the need to unite the GOP.

  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Trump's rival in the 2016 primary, endorsed the former president the day after Iowa.
  • Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), a member of House leadership, will be campaigning for Trump in New Hampshire this weekend.
  • Haley is hoping that a victory or close second in New Hampshire will give her campaign new momentum going into South Carolina after a disappointing third-place finish in Iowa.
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