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Our Best Stuff From the Week Nikki Haley Fought Back
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Our Best Stuff From the Week Nikki Haley Fought Back

Plus: The RNC jumps the shark, the United Nations beclowns itself, and more.

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley delivers remarks at her primary-night rally at the Grappone Conference Center on January 23, 2024, in Concord, New Hampshire. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Hello and happy Sunday. The race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination finally got a little interesting this week. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis dropped out last weekend, leaving the New Hampshire primary a two-person race between Donald Trump and Nikki Haley. The outcome of the primary wasn’t a surprise—Trump won, of course—but Haley’s response to that outcome signaled a change.

“With Donald Trump, Republicans have lost almost every competitive election,” she said in her concession speech. “We lost the Senate. We lost the House. We lost the White House. We lost in 2018. We lost in 2020 and we lost in 2022. The worst kept secret in politics is how badly the Democrats want to run against Donald Trump.” 

Like essentially every other Republican candidate not named Chris Christie or Asa Hutchinson, Haley had been circumspect in her discussions of the former president for most of the campaign. She had long avoided answering the question of whether she would serve as his vice president if asked, and in the first debate she (and most other candidates on stage) raised her hand to acknowledge she would support Trump if he were the nominee, even if he were a convicted felon. 

But on Tuesday, she went on the offensive. In their post-New Hampshire wrap-up, David Drucker and Michael Warren wrote that Haley’s aggressive speech was a “part of a deliberate plan to bait Trump.” It was, they added, “aimed directly at Trump as much as it was to Republican primary voters. And her message was clear: I’m not going anywhere yet.”

It seems to have worked. Trump was clearly angry delivering his victory speech, complaining that Haley was an “imposter” that had claimed victory despite doing “very poorly.” (As our own Alex Demas fact checked, Haley did concede to Trump on Tuesday before putting a more optimistic spin on the results.)

Trump on Tuesday also managed to humiliate one of his own supporters, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, who was with him on stage following the results in New Hampshire. “Did you ever think that—she actually appointed you, Tim?” he said. “And you’re the senator of her state. And endorsed me. You must really hate her. It’s a shame.”

Scott replied: “I just love you.”

So what happens now? Barring any major surprises or developments, Haley doesn’t have much of a path to the nomination—New Hampshire was likely her best chance to win a primary. But if that’s her fate, Nick is hopeful that she can maybe do some good on her way out. “It’s true, of course, that being boorish toward Republican opponents hasn’t hurt Trump in the past, but it’s also true that we’ve never been as close as we are at this moment to a true right-wing crack-up,” he writes in Boiling Frogs. “A majority of the party is pleased to some greater or lesser extent with Trump’s renomination, but a meaningful minority is mortified by it. The more examples that minority has of prominent respectable Republicans refusing to acquiesce in this travesty, the more emboldened they’ll hopefully feel to do the same in November.”

For his part, Jonah is hoping Haley keeps it up. “Every day, the drumbeat to unify the party and rally to Trump grows louder,” he writes in Wednesday’s G-File (🔒). “It will become deafening soon enough. Many of the people who say now that they won’t vote for Trump will cave. Many of the critics—possibly even Haley, though I hope not—will ‘come home.’ Don’t. Please.” 

On Wednesday—coincidentally, not long after we sent Jonah’s newsletter out with the headline “The Price of Admission to the GOP”—Trump posted a rant on Truth Social: “Anybody that makes a ‘Contribution’ to Birdbrain, from this moment forth, will be permanently barred from the MAGA camp. We don’t want them, and will not accept them, because we Put America First, and ALWAYS WILL!”

Haley’s clearly getting under Trump’s skin. How long that lasts, how long she lasts, and how the rest of the primary season plays out remains to be seen. But for those who are frustrated by his takeover of the Republican Party or alarmed by the thought of Trump serving another term, Haley’s new strategy is welcome.

Thanks for reading. Here are some things you might have missed.

We had a little scoop this week, one that drove much of the news cycle on Thursday and Friday. David got his hands on a draft resolution proposing that the Republican National Committee declare Donald Trump the presumptive nominee and start “working with the former president as if he had already” won the nomination. Hours later, Donald Trump posted on Truth Social asking the RNC to back off, saying “I feel, for the sake of PARTY UNITY, that they should NOT go forward with this plan, but that I should do it the ‘Old Fashioned’ way, and finish the process off AT THE BALLOT BOX.” Check out his story, and don’t miss Friday’s Dispatch Politics newsletter, where we covered the fallout: “The former president’s squeeze on Haley appeared to backfire, with Haley and her supporters digging in further. Since her second-place finish in New Hampshire, the Haley campaign says that $2.6 million in grassroots contributions have poured in, including $1.2 million that followed Trump’s warning to donors.”

The U.S. foots the bill for about one-third of all government donations to the United Nations. Danielle Pletka says it’s time to consider what we’re getting in return for investment—and she has receipts. She details how China has taken over important U.N. agencies for its own nefarious purposes and acquired enough influence to have its preferred choice head the World Health Organization, which had devastating consequences during the pandemic. But much of the U.N.’s awfulness has to do with its treatment of Israel. Not only did the U.N. General Assembly demand a ceasefire after Hamas attacked in October, leaders of U.N. Women ignored the rapes Hamas terrorists committed, and then there’s the U.N. Relief Works Agency for Palestine, which is supposed to aid “‘human development and relief’ of Palestinian refugees” but employs educators who teach Palestinian children to hate Israel and support terrorism. “The question is not whether the United States should withdraw from the United Nations entirely,” she writes. “Simply cutting dollars to the least worthy of U.N. bodies will, at the very least, begin the process of ending the waste, fraud, hatred, and abuse that characterizes the work of too much of the United Nations.” (Coincidentally, and as if to prove her point, the U.S. and other Western nations have paused funding to UNRWA after it was revealed that a dozen of its employees were involved in the attacks of October 7.) 

And here’s the best of the rest:

  • Really? Are we really debating whether presidents are immune from prosecution for criminal acts committed in office? In Monday’s Wanderland (🔒), Kevin laments the “insane” conversation that Donald Trump is forcing us to have.
  • The Israeli Defense Forces suffered their deadliest day since the war began on Monday, and 21 of the 24 soldiers who died were reservists. In this report from Tel Aviv, Charlotte shares some of their stories and writes about the important role reservists play in Israel—and how their absences are felt at home and in the private sector while they are serving.
  • South Africa took to the International Court for Justice to allege that Israel is committing genocide. What is the ICJ, what is South Africa alleging, and how has Israel responded? Emma Rogers explains.
  • Can Mike Johnson possibly succeed as speaker of the House with extremists in the House Freedom Caucus leaving him no choice but to work with Democrats and then complaining when he does? Phil Wallach looks back at the legacy of Sam Rayburn, known as an effective backroom operator and ability to compromise, as a potential model for Johnson.
  • On the pods: Jonah welcomed Dispatch contributor and Manhattan Institute fellow Brian Riedl to The Remnant for a discussion of debts and deficits, and the extinction of fiscally conservative Republicans. It’s all things 2024 on The Dispatch Podcast as the gang discusses David’s scoop, the veepstakes, the No Labels movement, and how Biden is faring with populist voters. On Advisory Opinions, David and Sarah recorded a live show at Vanderbilt University, where they talked about scandalous allegations against Fani Willis—the prosecutor in Fulton County, Georgia—and discuss the left-leaning bias that pervades pro bono legal cases.

Rachael Larimore is managing editor of The Dispatch and is based in the Cincinnati area. Prior to joining the company in 2019, she served in similar roles at Slate, The Weekly Standard, and The Bulwark. She and her husband have three sons.