Photo: Joseph Prezioso Agence France-Presse A few days before the New Hampshire primary, Nikki Haley seeks to demonstrate that Donald Trump's victory is not inevitable and has the right terrain to do so.
Fabien Deglise in Manchester
January 21, 2024
- United States
She wanted to be the first to enter. Bianca Weber arrived early Friday morning outside the Grappone Conference Center in Concord, New Hampshire, to attend the political rally for her candidate: Donald Trump.
“It’s the first time I’m going to see him in person, I can’t wait,” said the young dental hygienist standing with a friend at the head of a long line of supporters waiting to join. build, seven hours before the doors open. I want to be in the front row so I can shake his hand. »
Photo: Fabien Deglise Le Devoir Bianca Weber and her friend Daws braved the cold for hours Friday to secure a front row seat at Donald Trump's political rally in Concord on Friday.
Next to her, Daws, a visiting Californian, offered her prediction: “I think he’s going to win New Hampshire on Tuesday night. It is obvious. The more his political opponents try to stop him with stupid trials, the more people rally behind him. »
Just a few days before the New Hampshire primary, the first in a long series which, after last week's Iowa caucuses, will reveal the name of the Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential election, the wind seems indeed blow in the right direction on the Granite State for the former American president. Suffolk University's latest survey, conducted between January 18 and 19, confirms its dominance in voting intentions, at 53%, 17 points ahead of its closest rival here, the former ambassador of United States at the United Nations Nikki Haley. Figures which, in this corner of New England, should however be taken with caution.
- Ron DeSantis withdraws from Republican nomination race, supports Trump
- Singular voters in New Hampshire
- Analysis | Is the exit near for Ron DeSantis ?
“I have attended too many primaries in New Hampshire to rule out the possibility of a surprise, even at the last minute,” summarizes political scientist Dante Scala of the University of New Hampshire in an interview. It is not impossible that Nikki Haley manages to bring to the polls a large group of fairly diverse voters – moderate Republicans, voters from the so-called “Never Trump” camp [viscerally opposed to the presence of the populist in the political contest ], independents, and even former Democrats — and this could change the situation. Especially if participation is high. »
The former governor of South Carolina understood this well, having left Iowa with a disappointing third place, and has since increased the number of political rallies and direct meetings with voters in New Hampshire. She was in Manchester on Friday evening, in Keene, in Nashua and in Peterborough on Saturday, in Derry, in Franklin and in Exeter on Sunday, filling rooms at each of her stops with often convinced voters, sometimes curious to hear about the one that many consider here as an increasingly serious alternative to the candidacy of Donald Trump, especially if the populist were to be excluded from next November's election for criminal reasons.
Photo: Fabien Deglise Le Devoir Nikki Haley could benefit from a move in her favor Tuesday in the Republican primaries in New Hampshire.
“There’s a movement building around her here,” says Kathy Holland, a volunteer for Nikki Haley’s campaign, met in the corridors of a Manchester conference center on Friday. She made a big impression, especially among the moderate and even independent electorate of New Hampshire who refuse to accept the inevitability of Tuesday's result that is presented to them. We need change. We need to get an adult back into the sandbox. And Nikki Haley can be that adult. »
A unifying voice
“Joe Biden and Donald Trump represent two very polarized options,” adds Josh Leray, an independent voter in his early thirties who came to listen to this candidate’s speech, one of the possible choices for him on Tuesday when he will be alone in the voting booth, assures -he. “Nikki Haley is a unifying voice. If she wins, she will be the best to bring unity within the Republican Party and comfort the country in the difficult times we are going through. Diplomacy is its strength, and that’s what we need. »
The ex-diplomat has for months entered this favorable territory to practice the art of navigation between contradictory currents, but the political deadline of the New Hampshire primaries undoubtedly places her ahead of her last chance to win in this race. Especially since Ron DeSantis decided on Sunday to withdraw from the race, giving his support to Donald Trump. He was credited with barely 6% of voting intentions for Tuesday's vote.
Photo: Fabien Deglise Le Devoir Visiting an Irish pub in Dover on Friday evening, Ron DeSantis called on a small group of voters to support him, without really believing it: on Sunday, he announced his withdrawal from the race, giving his support to Donald Trump.
“She has to campaign hard here until voting day,” summarizes Republican political organizer Matthew Bartlett, a specialist in local politics in this state. If she can make New Hampshire competitive and even surprise the world with a victory, then we're going to have a real race starting nationally for the Republican Party nomination. »
Donald Trump certainly does not want to consider this scenario, he who believes that the party should instead crown him now without holding the primary vote, since he leads in the polls. But this does not prevent him from increasing the attacks against his close rival, whom he seeks to portray as an ally of his enemies.
In Manchester on Saturday evening, the populist, who nicknamed the candidate “bird brain”, said she served the interests of the establishment, globalists, but also democrats and radicals from the left. The politician's program, in terms of the economy, security, immigration, however, leaves no room for interpretation on her conservatism.
He also suggested that, if she were to win Tuesday's vote, it would be because of the Democratic votes in her favor. A lie: Democratic voters cannot vote in a Republican primary in New Hampshire.
On Friday in Concord, the ex-president also got tangled in his “alternative” realities by accusing Nikki Haley of having done nothing to ensure the security of the Capitol on January 6, thus confusing her with Democrat Nancy Pelosi, which he usually associates with this tirade on the subject. A mental landslide that the young 52-year-old politician seized on the fly by thus calling into question the mental abilities of her opponent to lead the country well, if he became president again, she said in substance during her passage to Keene. “When you need to lie to win, you don’t deserve to win,” she added.
“Nikki Haley has become more effective at portraying Donald Trump as a loser without directly attacking him, which could endear him to well-educated and affluent New Hampshire voters who have shown marked distaste for Donald Trump for years , underlines Linda Fowler, professor of political science at Dartmouth College, in Hanover in the heart of the state. Republican activists are still angry with him, since he caused them to lose a seat in the Senate and the House of Representatives in 2022 by supporting candidates “not for their competence, but for their adherence to the conspiracy theories defended by the ex-president, including the alleged theft of the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“New Hampshire voters recorded very high levels of confidence in the 2020 elections, and Republican candidates — like Republican Governor Chris Sununu — rejected Donald Trump's big lie, adds his colleague Russell Muirhead, specialist in American politics at Dartmouth College, too. There's no market for it here. But it remains to be seen whether, among conservatives who disapprove of Trump's character, some will hold their noses and vote for him anyway, simply because their hatred of Joe Biden, whom they want to dislodge from the White House, is too strong. »
Photo: Fabien Deglise Le Devoir For Léo Plante, a Franco-American met in Keene, Trump remains the savior the country needs.
Léo Plante, a Franco-American from Dublin who came to galvanize voters on a Keene roundabout on Saturday morning, signs in hand, is counting on this trend to impose at the polls the one he presents as “the savior of the United States,” says this retired economics professor, in impeccable French. “I will vote for him, even if he were to be sent to prison. Without him, the country is finished. We are going to become like Canada [a communist country and too left-wing, according to him]. And I couldn't stand that. »