While the GOP presidential contenders were hesitant to attack the frontrunner during Wednesday’s debate, they did focus on the candidate who has been rising to second place in recent polls: former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.
Haley faced a slew of attacks from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, although former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie did come to Haley’s defense after Ramaswamy attacked her intelligence.
Haley’s campaign, meanwhile, appeared to relish in the attention. NBC’s Matt Dixon reported that her campaign sent out an email during the debate that read, “You know Nikki Haley is winning because her opponents are falling over themselves trying to attack her. Spoiler alert: It’s not sticking. Nikki is still winning and jealousy is not a good look on the fellas.”
Ramaswamy and DeSantis both focused some of their attacks on Haley’s support from Wall Street donors, and she accused them of being “jealous” that she has won their support.
CNBC’s Brian Schwartz reports that some of Haley’s new donors “closely watched” the debate on Wednesday night, but they will also be watching how she fares in the early states. One person who attended a Haley fundraiser on Monday told Schwartz, “If she looks competitive in South Carolina, they will keep funding her for Super Tuesday and beyond.”
In other campaign news …
Biden on Trump: President Joe Biden said Wednesday that he is not the only Democrat who can defeat Trump, quipping that there are “probably 50” other Democrats who could do so. But Biden added, “I will defeat him.”
Debatable: The Biden campaign is not committing to participating in general election debates, with deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks saying in a Wednesday press conference that the campaign would “look at the schedule,” per the Associated Press.
Endorsement season (or not): Trump picked up two Senate endorsements on Wednesday, with Alabama GOP Sen. Katie Britt and North Dakota GOP Sen. John Hoeven backing the former president. Meanwhile, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott said he does not plan to endorse in the GOP primary “anytime soon,” per NBC’s Nnamdi Egwuonwu.
Trump ramps up: Trump is expected to ramp up his visits to Iowa ahead of next month’s caucuses, with the campaign also planning to bring “dozens” of surrogates to the state, per Fox News.
Vivek on the trail: Ramaswamy has stressed that he is going to “shock the world” and win the Iowa caucuses, but lately on the campaign trail he has also been mentioning the possibility that he could lose the nomination, per NBC’s Katherine Koretski.
A second Trump presidency: Trump will “come after” those in the media and the government who “helped Joe Biden rig presidential elections,” said Trump ally Kash Patel.
Convicted: New York’s Philip Sean Grillo, a Republican running to succeed ousted Rep. George Santos in the state’s 3rd District, was convicted this week on charges relating to his conduct during the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
Fake electors: A Nevada grand jury indicted six fake electors on Wednesday who signed documentation purporting that Trump won the state in 2020, while 10 fake electors from Wisconsin settled a civil lawsuit against them by affirming that Biden was the rightful winner.