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Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley holds a rally in Greer, S.C.
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley holds a rally in Greer, S.C., on May 4. Peter Zay / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images file

Eyes on 2024: Haley breaks from Trump on Jan. 6

"It was a terrible day, and we don’t ever want that to happen again," Haley said at an Iowa town hall on Wednesday.


Former U.N. Ambassador and South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley has walked a long and windy road when it comes to her one-time boss, former President Donald Trump. But this time, she’s again publicly breaking with him on a central issue to his candidacy — the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. 

“It was not a beautiful day, it was a terrible day, and we don’t ever want that to happen again,” Haley said at an Iowa town hall Wednesday, per NBC News’ Ali Vitali.  

“I don’t know enough about each individual [rioter] but that’s my rule: If you break the law, you pay the price.” 

The comments harken back to Haley’s initial reaction to the 2021 attack, when she declared to the Republican National Committee two days after the attack that Trump’s “actions since Election Day will be judged harshly by history,” and then told Politico that Trump “went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that ever happen again.” 

Months later, Haley had a different emphasis, praising Trump’s “strong legacy from his administration” in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, adding “We need him in the Republican Party. I don’t want us to go back to the days before Trump.” 

So while Haley isn’t taking on Trump directly in her most recent town hall comments, it’s one of the more direct contrasts she’s made to the GOP frontrunner on the trail so far.  

In other campaign news…

Dems start hitting Cameron: A new Democratic Governors Association-backed group is up with a new TV ad linking Kentucky Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the party’s newly minted gubernatorial nominee, to former GOP Gov. Matt Bevin by criticizing him for not appointing a special prosecutor to look at Bevin’s controversial pardons (Cameron did ask the FBI to investigate). 

Texas two-step: Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn sharpened his criticism of Trump into his most direct yet, telling Texas reporters that Republicans “need to come up with an alternative” because “President Trump’s time has passed him by” and the GOP needs “a candidate who can actually win.”

Strange bedfellows: Trump’s top operative in South Carolina will be Austin McCubbin, the Post and Courier reports first, who previously managed Republican Rep. Nancy Mace’s re-election when she defeated a Trump-backed candidate in the primary.

DeSantis’ announcement nears: NBC News’ Dasha Burns reports that Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis won’t just be filing federal paperwork to run for president next week, but also plans to formally announce his bid. And the New York Times reports DeSantis has been telling donors that out of the three “credible” candidates for president (Trump, himself and President Biden), only he and Biden can win

E-I-E-I-O: The new spot from the pro-Trump MAGA Inc. is a riff on the children’s song “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” except about how “Ron DeSalesTax” backed a national sales tax in Congress (the proposal would have slashed other taxes, including the federal income tax, in exchange). 

Raising eyebrows: Virginia GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin released a campaign-style video preaching a broad, nationalized message about his vision for America, NBC News’ Ryan Nobles reports, even though he’s tried to downplay questions about whether he’s interested in running for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. 

Getting in the gamecock: The New York Times previews South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott’s presidential bid and his message, reporting his campaign is reserving $6 million for an initial TV and radio buy in early nominating states. 

Similar bedfellows: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is tapping former Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who previously mounted his own longshot presidential bids in 2004 and 2008, as his campaign manager. And CNBC’s Brian Schwartz reports on the Wall Street executive who’s funded Kennedy Jr.’s anti-vaccine group. 

Sinema spending: Replace Sinema, a Democratic-aligned group that has advocated against Arizona Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s re-election, filed an FEC complaint questioning her campaign spending on “luxury hotels, chauffeurs, private jets, fancy dinners, and wine.” The senator’s spokesman called the accusations “desperate political attacks” in a statement to 3TV and CBS5