Nikki Haley is under pressure from donors to defeat Donald Trump in New Hampshire after losing the caucus in Iowa


Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley is facing pressure from some of her top fundraisers to either seriously compete with Donald Trump or outright defeat him in next week’s New Hampshire primary, after finishing third Monday in the Iowa caucus.

“I still want to see her get somewhere, but the mountain she has to climb is enormous,” Andy Sabin, A New York The businessman and fundraiser Haley told CNBC. “As much as I love Haley, I don’t even know what Trump can do to stop himself right now.”

Sabin plans to help raise money for Trump if Haley can’t make it through the primary season, despite previously telling CNBC that he wouldn’t give the former president a “fucking nickel.”

“He might be my only option,” Sabin said.

Several fundraisers for Haley who spoke to CNBC acknowledged that unless she finishes a distant second to Trump or manages to pull off an upset win in New Hampshire, the race could effectively be over for her after that.

New Hampshire “is critical. If she wins there, and she can, it’s going to be a long primary season,” said Eric Levine, an attorney and Haley’s coordinator.

Levine is also the co-host of a Haley fundraising event scheduled to take place after the New Hampshire primary. He told CNBC he’s not worried about poor attendance, as long as it has a strong showing in the Granite State.

“She needs to win or finish second very soon,” a lobbyist raising money for Haley said.

In order to keep many of the wealthier donors engaged, Haley must come within three percentage points of Trump in New Hampshire, said a Republican fundraising consultant whose clients include Haley donors.

If she doesn’t, those donors could turn away from Haley and try to find other ways to stop Trump, including perhaps by funding a third-party effort like No Labels, the adviser said.

A spokesman for Haley’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment before publication.

Trump faces dozens of federal criminal charges, many related to his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

However, the former president dominated the Iowa caucuses, receiving more than 50% approval from caucus participants.

New Hampshire polls don’t expect Haley to do much better than she did in Iowa. Trump leads the Granite State primary by about 14 percentage points over Haley, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average.

A large number of wealthy Republican-leaning donors have rallied around Haley as an alternative to Trump, even though he remains poised to win the Republican nomination.

To keep the campaign going after New Hampshire, she will need their help, as well as whatever small-dollar donor money she can get, in order to try to fend off Trump in her home state of South Carolina. Trump leads Haley in the South Carolina primary by 30 percentage points, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average.

Haley and her allied political action committee spent more than $26 million on ads targeting voters in New Hampshire, according to AdImpact. Trump and his PAC allies have invested more than $12 million on ads in the state.

Some Haley donors have already given up hope.

In Davos, Switzerland, a wealthy investment banking executive and Haley donor told CNBC on Tuesday that he is now convinced that Trump will be the Republican nominee and will go on to defeat President Joe Biden in November.

The banker, consultant and lobbyist were granted anonymity in order to speak freely.

CNBC’s Alex Sherman contributed for this report.

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