Nikki Haley says she won’t debate Ron DeSantis in New Hampshire unless Donald Trump participates

DES MOINES, Iowa — DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Nikki Haley said Tuesday she would not participate in the next Republican presidential debate unless former President Donald Trump takes part, leaving Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the only candidate to sign up for the event. started on Thursday.

“We’ve had five great debates during this campaign,” Haley said in a statement released as she campaigned in New Hampshire. “Unfortunately, Donald Trump has scrutinized them all. He has nowhere to hide anymore. The next debate I do will be with Donald Trump or Joe Biden. I look forward.”

Her statement was released a day after the all-important Iowa caucuses, in which Trump posted wide margins of victory over both Haley and DeSantis. With the two locked in a heated battle for second place in Iowa, Haley tried to make her electoral argument more about Trump than DeSantis, repeatedly repeating her refrain that her candidacy marks a reversal of the “chaos” that follows on the frontrunner of the Republican Party.

The move could also be a result of the last Haley-DeSantis-only debate, in which Haley did not perform as well as expected, with DeSantis ultimately beating her for second place in Iowa.

Haley had argued to caucusgoers that electing her gives Republicans a better chance of beating Biden in November, pointing to survey data showing her with the largest lead among Republicans in a theoretical election matchup.

On X, DeSantis said Haley is “afraid to debate because she doesn’t want to answer the tough questions.” He accused her of “aiming to be Trump’s vice president” and said he was “looking forward to debating across two empty stages in the Granite State this week.”

Trump spokesman Steven Cheung on Tuesday called Haley a “desperate globalist who wants higher taxes, open borders and China to dominate the United States.” in a Republican primary.”

Haley took on DeSantis last week in Iowa in the most recent GOP debate, a two-hour brawl that left at least some of her supporters feeling like the former South Carolina governor was some of the above-the-battle had lost. attitude of her campaign so far. More than a dozen times, she referred to a campaign website that several caucusgoers said seemed repetitive and caught Haley in an attack of “swearing” that was off-putting.

As the Republican campaign shifts to New Hampshire ahead of that state’s primaries next week, Haley has projected confidence that her commitment to the state and surveys showing her support there will give her campaign the momentum it needs to win cut Trump’s power. After her caucus night celebration, Haley boarded an overnight flight to New Hampshire, where she planned an event with Gov. Chris Sununu later in the day.

But DeSantis, breaking with tradition, flew directly to Haley’s home state of South Carolina and said last week that the plan to appear there briefly before heading to New Hampshire himself was intended to send a message to Haley that he was intensely would fight against her. next month in her home state’s primaries.

On the campaign trail in Iowa, reporters had asked Haley this past week when she would participate in Thursday’s debate, hosted by ABC and WMUR-TV at New England College.

After his caucus victory, Trump flew to New York, where he was expected in court for one of his many legal challenges, before heading to New Hampshire for a rally later Tuesday. A campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on whether Trump would participate in Thursday’s debate. So far he has skipped all the primaries.

After a visit to the court, Trump will fly to New Hampshire on Tuesday evening to hold a rally.

Chris Ager, chairman of the Republican Party of New Hampshire, told the AP on Tuesday that both Haley and Trump had received invitations to join DeSantis on stage for the debate.

“We would love to see them all,” he said in a text message. “People in NH expect to see a local debate. Candidates who skip do so at their own risk.”


Holly Ramer contributed to this report from Concord, New Hampshire.


Meg Kinnard can be reached at