Former President Donald Trump scored a strong victory in the Iowa caucuses on Monday, which, despite low turnout amid severe weather, saw him embraced by a majority of the state’s Republican base.
Now he’s gearing up for a head-to-head fight with former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley in New Hampshire, looking to eliminate what appears to be her best hope of beating him in his quest for a third straight presidential nomination, sources in Trump’s orbit told ABC News, where Offering a sneak peek at his next live moves on the road.
“The game plan is always to win,” said one former Trump campaign official who remains in contact with the current Trump team. “Whether it’s ‘scorched earth’ or highlighting major shortcomings in her record, this is what can We expect it next week.” He requested anonymity to share internal discussions. (Spokespeople for Trump and Haley did not respond to requests for comment on this story.)
“Donald Trump has an opportunity to close out this race and put the final nail in the coffin of this presidential primary in New Hampshire,” the former official said. “He’s not one to leave the artillery in the gun.”
Monday night’s results saw Trump win in a landslide in Iowa, where he received more than 50% of the vote and won every county except one.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Haley, who were only two points apart in second and third place, respectively, ultimately trailed Trump by about 30% each despite months of presenting themselves as better alternatives to win the White House.
Allies of DeSantis and Haley were quick to note that results came from only one state at the start of the 2024 race (though it’s one state receiving a lot of attention) and arguably few voters were making their voices heard.
About 110,000 people voted in the Republican caucuses, representing about 60% of the turnout in the last contested caucuses, in 2016.
Even though vote totals and polls suggest Trump still faces problems with more moderate and younger voters and in more educated and less rural areas, his victory showed that the party’s base is still with him.
Observers and experts say that Trump is the favorite to win the upcoming primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina, but both states offer different quirks that theoretically provide opportunities for Haley on a narrow path towards competing with him during the rest of the primary season.
Independents and people registered as undeclared — who typically lean moderate — are allowed to vote in the primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina, where Trump has a 30-point lead on 538 votes. Average pollingShe is seen as more welcoming to Haley than Iowa, given her current rapport with voters as a former governor there.
Trump and Haley have already engaged in tit-for-tat attacks, with Trump questioning Haley’s intelligence and calling her a “globalist,” while South Carolinian has portrayed the former president as an agent of “chaos” — while still saying she would do so. He pardons him if she is elected and he is convicted of a crime (he denies any wrongdoing) and refuses to rule out whether she would be his running mate.
Sources close to Trump expected that the attacks from his team and allies after Iowa would escalate to several levels higher than what Haley has already faced.
“I think she’s an important opponent, and in the primaries, she’s earned the right to be beaten,” said one source in Trump’s orbit.
“This is a roller coaster I only heard about, and she was sitting in the last row,” said another person who, like the other Trump sources quoted here, requested anonymity due to ongoing ties.
The former president is already planning to boost his campaign schedule in New Hampshire in the coming days, where one source said an anti-tax message could fit in with the state’s “Free Live or Die” slogan.
“I think the most important thing is taxes [are] You’ll be part of the conversation. The former campaign official said that New Hampshire is a state that does not impose taxes, and this is their political philosophy, considering that Trump “implemented one of the largest tax cuts in American history.”
Another line of attack from Trump could focus on some of Haley’s wealthy donors, including those who have donated to Democrats, a charge she also faced from DeSantis and tried to downplay.
Haley’s allies told ABC News she is ready to respond.
“She’s tough. There’s nothing the Trump people can say that you haven’t heard before. Of course, we have to leave room for the possibility that he’ll make things up. In that case, she’ll just have to right the wrong.” “Register,” said Eric Levine, her attorney and fundraiser.
Haley also appeared to be ramping up her responses this week, including linking Trump to President Joe Biden in the most explicit terms yet.
“Both are consumed by chaos, negativity and past injustices,” says a narrator in a new ad running in New Hampshire.
Haley added in statements after the caucuses: “Our campaign is the last hope to stop the Trump-Biden nightmare.”
“Republicans have lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections,” she said at the time. “That is nothing to be proud of.”
Supporting outside groups, such as the SFA Fund Inc., the super PAC that supports Haley, and the Koch-aligned Americans for Prosperity, are also launching attacks on the former president.
Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, said Haley is well-positioned to absorb attacks ahead of next week’s primaries, pointing to previous jabs from businessman Vivek Ramaswamy — who withdrew on Monday and endorsed Trump — on Haley. The family that ended up falling apart.
“You saw what happened when Ramaswamy went after Haley in the debates: every time he attacked her and accused her of things, she seemed smaller, and she sat back and took it with a smile on her face,” Smith said.
“I think Lou [Trump] “He says, ‘Yes, it works well with moderates, these moderates, you can’t trust these people, they’re not all MAGA’… That’s probably the best way to do it,” Smith added. See if it will work necessarily.”
Throughout the campaign, Haley urged voters to stay away from Trump, whom she attacks on some key issues such as raising the national debt. But she tempered her comments about her former boss. One of his recurring phrases is that he was “the right president at the right time.”
She has also defended his right to run in the 2024 election in light of challenges that invoked the “rebellion” clause of the 14th Amendment in connection with January 6th. (More vocal anti-Trump candidates, such as Chris Christie and Asa Hutchinson, have already left the party for the 2024 race.)
Some experts said this balancing act highlights the difficulty Haley or anyone else has in opposing Trump. In trying to undermine him among Republican voters, they only risk diminishing themselves.
“It’s clear that Trump is still the front-runner” in New Hampshire, Smith said. “I don’t think that’s changed at all. I think Hailey has a long shot.”
This article originally appeared on abcnews.go.com