Despite being far behind frontrunning former President Donald Trump, 2024 Republican hopefuls Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley now pitch themselves as viable alternatives.
Staffers for the pair attended a Friday gathering of GOP donors to make their case for being the leading choice should Trump stumble or exit the race. At the same time, each took shots at the other’s candidate in their attempt to woo deep-pocketed contributors.
The Florida governor’s camp asserted that Haley would lose in a head-to-head confrontation with the former president.
Team DeSantis and Team Haley Pitch Themselves to the Never Trump Billionaires During Donor Strategy Meeting in Texas https://t.co/eDm9RP5myS
— TheLastRefuge (@TheLastRefuge2) October 14, 2023
Meanwhile, the former U.N. ambassador’s representatives said that DeSantis is faltering and that her run for the White House is gathering momentum. They expressed their belief that Haley is better financed while DeSantis is dependent on super PACs to spread his message.
Haley’s campaign spotlighted recent polls, both public and conducted internally, showing her pulling ahead of DeSantis into second place.
A Haley staffer added that “by every metric, Nikki is moving up and Ron is moving down. It IS a two-person race: one man and one woman.”
As for DeSantis, his supporters contended that 90% of those currently backing the Florida governor would switch to Trump if he dropped out of the race. Haley’s voters, they said, would disperse to other candidates if she left the running.
This, they declared, meant that DeSantis is the one candidate not named Trump who would carry the former president’s voters should he not be in the primary. They added that Haley would lose head-to-head with Trump by a 70% to 30% tally.
The Florida governor, however, has seen his national numbers decline significantly since joining the race.
And the main beneficiary of DeSantis’ slippage has been Trump, whose poll showings have only increased.
The Dallas conference was hosted by megadonor Harlan Crow. Attendees heard presentations from investor Ken Griffin and hedge-fund billionaire Paul Singer on ways to get a Republican besides Trump into the White House.
Only representatives for DeSantis and Haley were initially invited, possibly indicating that the organizers narrowed their focus on these two hopefuls. But then staffers for Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) were also invited.