Nikki Haley, supporters remain optimistic following New Hampshire primary defeat

Nikki Haley addresses her supporters after Tuesday’s primary. Photo courtesy of Illiana Ochoa Bravo/BU News Service.

By Illiana Ochoa Bravo

Boston University News Service

Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday night at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord, New Hampshire to support former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley in the New Hampshire primary election. Although Haley lost to former President Donald Trump, she outperformed many polls leading up to the contest, leaving supporters hopeful for her presidential bid. 

“It’s time to put the negativity and chaos behind us,” said Haley to a cheerful audience. “Our fight is not over because we have a country to save.”

Shelly Wilson, a self-described fiscal conservative and social liberal, said that after Trump’s presidency, she registered as an independent voter. 

Haley is “very smart,” and has experience with foreign policy, Wilson said. “I’m so hoping she beats Trump,” reiterating, “I hope more than anything that Trump is gone.”

Tim Halm, a New Hampshire resident who also attended the rally on Monday, agreed. “I’m so done with Trump,” he said. “I can’t stand him. I would like to see him in prison.”

Halm said he was “never a Trumper.” In the 2020 election, he voted for Biden. If someone wins, it should be “anybody but Trump,” said Halm, who added that Haley is “so polished,” has “fantastic” concepts and gives “good vibes.”

“There are dozens of states left to go,” Haley said, the next competition being her “sweet state” of South Carolina. Haley represented South Carolina in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2005 to 2011, and subsequently as governor from 2011 to 2017.

“She is the best candidate to beat Trump in the primary and I think ultimately the best candidate to beat Biden,” said Jay Hinspeter, a New Hampshire independent voter who liked Haley’s more moderate stances compared to Trump’s stances. 

She has the possibility of “bringing the country together,” Hinspeter said, adding that although President Joe Biden is a “decent” president, “he is ready for retirement.”

“To be honest, it is not a great field this year. Nikki Haley doesn’t have to do much to be head and shoulders above the rest of the candidates,” said Hinspeter. 

Haley said she promised to enforce stricter immigration laws, eliciting cheers from supporters. She then pivoted to critique the cognitive state of Trump, who, confusing Haley with former U.S. House of  Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi, accused Haley of not providing security at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Haley, 52, “has some youth left,” Wilson said, compared to Trump, who is 77 years old, and Biden, 81. 

Mike Dumhnm, a Massachusetts resident who said he has visited most primary elections since the 1980s, said he came up for the weekend to see all of the campaign events. 

“Trump is Trump. He is going to suck the oxygen out of the air no matter where he goes,” said Dumhnm. If Haley becomes president, “there will be less drama, there’ll be less chaos and I think she will be a hard worker.”

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