Nikki Haley Reopens the ‘Kill Marco’ Playbook

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks at a town hall event in New Hampshire on April 26, 2023. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Happy Friday! Several of your Dispatch Politics correspondents are headed to Iowa this weekend. If you happen to be a Hawkeye State elected official, party chair, or other assorted political-class hanger-on—or if you just want to talk about Caitlyn Clark—hit us up!

Up to Speed

  • Title 42, the pandemic-era policy that expedited the expulsion of illegal migrants at the border and suspended most asylum claims since its implementation by President Trump in 2020, officially ended at midnight Thursday. The change is expected to provoke a still larger surge of border crossings, which were already at record levels. On Wednesday, the Biden administration finalized a rule blocking most migrants from applying for asylum if they did not first seek asylum in a country they passed through en route to America.
  • Former President Donald Trump appeared on a primetime CNN town hall Wednesday night. During the hourlong event before a sympathetic crowd, he repeated his longstanding lies about the legitimacy of the 2020 election, mocked the woman who this week won a civil case after Trump was found liable of sexually abusing her, and pledged to pardon “a large portion” of those who have faced charges for participating in the January 6 capitol riot. Trump also declined to say whether he would sign a national abortion ban if reelected president.
  • President Joe Biden and congressional leaders postponed a Friday meeting to discuss the upcoming debt-ceiling crisis until early next week. Although Biden has long insisted—and continues to suggest—that he will not dignify Republican brinkmanship over the debt ceiling by negotiating the issue, Reuters reported Thursday that “aides from both sides have started to discuss ways to limit federal spending.”
  • House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Wednesday he will not support the reelection effort of Rep. George Santos, who was indicted Tuesday on 13 federal charges of wire fraud, money laundering, and stealing public funds. “Santos has a lot going on,” McCarthy told reporters. “I think he has other things to focus on in his life than running for stuff.” His well-documented serial fabulism in practically every aspect of his life notwithstanding, Santos is pleading not guilty.

Nikki Haley’s 2016 Redux

Since announcing for president in February, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has treaded cautiously around Donald Trump. But she has plenty to say about Ron DeSantis.

Haley has repeatedly needled the Florida governor over his ongoing feud with Disney, saying the entertainment conglomerate should consider moving its massive Disney World theme park complex to South Carolina. The former ambassador has suggested the fracas showed DeSantis’s “thin skin,” pointing out the governor formerly accepted campaign contributions from Disney. Meanwhile, Haley’s designated super PAC, SFA Inc., has since February devoted more than a dozen press releases to tearing down DeSantis.

Many observers report a sense of déjà vu. In 2016, most GOP contenders declined to take on Trump, the undisputed frontrunner. Instead, they aimed fire at a young, dynamic establishment favorite from Florida, Sen. Marco Rubio, in a bid to set up a tête-à-tête with the future 45th president. 

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