Jan 22, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Chris Christie fans are trying to shock the world for Nikki Haley

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

DERRY, N.H. — Fans of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are getting ready to come out for former UN ambassador Nikki Haley in New Hampshire's primary on Tuesday.

Why it matters: While Christie has not yet made an endorsement after dropping out of the presidential race, many of his supporters — motivated to vote against Trump — see Haley as the next best choice.

What we're watching: Christie built his entire campaign strategy around a strong performance in New Hampshire.

  • Christie had 12% support in New Hampshire before he exited the race, per a CNN/University of New Hampshire poll. Nearly 2/3 of Christie supporters picked Haley as their second choice.
  • At least three members of Christie's New Hampshire Steering Committee are now backing Haley, including former Rep. Charlie Bass and business leaders Norm Olsen and Tom Boucher.
  • Bass on Saturday spoke on Haley's behalf at an event in Peterborough, NH.

What they're saying: "I'm sorry that he's not in the race anymore. He's a very honest, very decent man," said Paul Gonsalves, 66, a Navy veteran from Mont Vernon, N.H., who has been attending Haley events after Christie dropped out.

  • At another event in Amherst, Gonsalves told Haley he had one request: "Ask Chris Christie to be your vice president." She responded, "I'll think about it."
  • "I started originally supporting Chris Christie, but he dropped out. So I started learning about Nikki Haley and I'm intrigued," Derry voter Ron Czerw told Axios.
  • "She'll definitely get my vote in the primary," Czerw said after the event.

Between the lines: Asked if she wanted Christie's endorsement, Haley told NewsNation, "No, I don't need it."

  • Christie was caught on a hot mic shortly before he suspended his campaign saying that Haley is "going to get smoked" and that "she's not up for this."
  • The Haley and Christie campaigns did not respond to requests for comment.
  • Trump has slowly consolidated the GOP field, picking up endorsements from former rivals Vivek Ramaswamy, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum as they've dropped out.

Zoom out: Haley and Trump's surrogates have both been courting the more than 340,000 undeclared voters who make up a plurality of New Hampshire's electorate.

  • Undeclared voters in New Hampshire can choose either the Democratic or Republican primary ballot and vote for the candidate of their choice.

Alex Thompson contributed reporting.

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