On the Trail: Haley campaign gains momentum

Ron DeSantis shows his paperwork to file to run in the New Hampshire Republican Primary at the Secretary of State's office Thursday.

Ron DeSantis shows his paperwork to file to run in the New Hampshire Republican Primary at the Secretary of State's office Thursday. Paul Steinhauser photograph

Presidential candidate Nikki Haley walks the hallways of the State House before filing for the 2024 Primary on Friday morning, October 13, 2023. Mike Pence preceded Haley in filing.

Presidential candidate Nikki Haley walks the hallways of the State House before filing for the 2024 Primary on Friday morning, October 13, 2023. Mike Pence preceded Haley in filing. Concord Monitory — Geoff Forester

Current and past presidential candidate buttons, stickers and memorabilia are displayed on a wall in the visitors center at the New Hampshire Statehouse, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Current and past presidential candidate buttons, stickers and memorabilia are displayed on a wall in the visitors center at the New Hampshire Statehouse, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) ap — Charles Krupa

By PAUL STEINHAUSER

For the Valley News

Published: 10-16-2023 8:12 PM

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been absent from New Hampshire for two months, but the Republican presidential candidate says he’ll be spending plenty of time in the first primary state going forward.

“We’re going to do everything that you need to do to be able to win in New Hampshire,” the governor told reporters after filing at the State House to place his name on GOP presidential primary ballot in the state that holds the second contest in the Republican nominating calendar.

Minutes earlier, in an interview with this reporter, DeSantis pledged that “we’re going to be painting this state a lot. We’re going to be doing town halls, we are going to be doing the house parties that they do. We’re going to be doing speeches, everything we need to do.”

DeSantis has been barnstorming this summer and autumn through Iowa, whose caucuses lead off the GOP nominating schedule. The governor’s closing in on making stops in all of the Hawkeye State’s 99 counties and touted “I can tell you for what we’ve been able to do in Iowa, I would not trade places with any other candidate.”

Former President Donald Trump’s the commanding front-runner in the Republican race, as he makes his third straight White House run. But DeSantis, who scored an overwhelming gubernatorial re-election victory in Florida last November, had second place all to himself until recently. While he remains in second in many national polls and in the surveys in Iowa, former ambassador to the United Nations and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has leapfrogged him in some of the latest polls in New Hampshire and her home state, which holds the first southern primary.

“We can feel the momentum on the ground, Haley told this reporter on Thursday following a town hall in Rochester. “We can feel it in Iowa. We can feel it in New Hampshire. We can feel it in South Carolina.”

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Haley has campaigned heavily in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina since launching her campaign in February, and has held scores of town halls in the three early-voting states. Also likely boosting her poll numbers were well-regarded performances in the first two GOP presidential debates.

The candidate said her rise in the polls is helping her appeal among the GOP donor class. Haley spent Tuesday mingling with top-dollar Republican donors at an annual summit in Utah hosted by Sen. Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, and his one-time running mate, former House Speaker Paul Ryan.

“We do have donor interest wanting to help us,” Haley said, who on Friday was set to file at the State House to place her name on the primary ballot.

But she emphasized that “we’re keeping our head down. We’re very focused. We want to earn every Iowan’s vote. We want to earn every Granite Stater’s vote. And we want to make sure we get to South Carolina and we earn their votes and we’re not going to stop until we do it.”