Nikki Haley will ding former President Trump when she addresses a powerful conservative group on Saturday — and she’ll take aim at other 2024 contenders who have yet to enter the race.
Haley, who launched her White House campaign in mid-February, will speak at the Club for Development donor retreat in Palm Beach, Fla. — an event Trump was not invited to.
“I know there’s a Republican candidate you didn’t invite to this convention,” Haley would say, according to comments shared with The Hill. “I appreciate being the one you invited.”
Haley will chide Trump for his spending record during his White House years.
“Think about the last two Republican presidents adding more than $10 trillion to the national debt. A third of our debt happened under two Republicans,” Haley would say, referring to Trump and former President George W. Bush.
His remarks included a pointed reference to Congress signs and unnamed “self-dealing politicians”.
Trump’s spending record while in office is a point vulnerable to conservatives trying to take back the White House.
The Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, noted that Trump’s actions in his single term “cost $7.8 trillion over the decade, compared to $5.0 trillion for President Obama and $6.9 trillion for President Bush.”
Trump’s defenders note that the bulk of his spending came in response to the exceptional circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic, which took hold in the last year of his presidency.
Haley served as US ambassador to the United Nations in the Trump administration, but had a complicated political relationship with him.
On January 6, 2021, she criticized him in the wake of the Capitol riots, but later said she would not run against him for the GOP nomination in 2024 if he entered the race — a move she eventually reversed.
In his early days on the campaign trail, he broke away from the “status” and took the position that Trump was relevant to his particular time, but that the nation needed to move on.
He has proposed making mental fitness tests mandatory for politicians over 75 years of age. Trump is 76 years old and President Biden is 80 years old.
Trump and Haley are the only major candidates in the Republican Party so far, though conservative businessman and author Vivek Ramasamy has recently joined.
Speculation is swirling around several big Republican names, most notably Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Former Vice President Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Sen. Tim Scott (SC) may also participate in the tournament.
In her Club for Growth talk, Haley “looks at the people who are huddled on the sidelines, waiting to decide what to do.”
She will urge donors to the group to support her, urging them not to “wait for guys sitting on the sidelines who can’t make up their minds.”
Much of Haley’s speech was attributed to his own belief in fiscally conservative policies and his willingness to fight entrenched interests in pursuit of those policies.
He’ll also say he’s “not afraid” to talk about reforms to Social Security and Medicare, though his address doesn’t go into specifics.
There is a fair share of political intrigue behind the Club for Growth event.
The donor retreat is taking place at the same time as CPAC — the Conservative Political Action Conference — convenes outside Washington, DC.
CPAC has taken on an increasingly pro-Trump flavor in recent years. It has also been embroiled in controversy after allegations of sexual assault were made against its frontman Matt Schlapp. Schlapp denies the allegations.
Several potential GOP presidential candidates stayed away from CPAC this year, including DeSantis, Pence, Scott and South Dakota Gov. Christy Nome.
Haley spoke on Friday, but received a polite rather than rapturous reception during the speech. As he walked around the venue, he was met with chants of “We love Trump”.
Trump will lead CPAC with a speech on Saturday afternoon.
Trump has had a tumultuous relationship with the Club for Growth and its president, David McIntosh. The two were once close, but last month McIntosh said the GOP should be “open to another candidate.”
Trump fired back in a social media post, complaining that the “Club for No Growth is a bunch of political misfits, globalists and losers.”
Meanwhile, DeSantis spoke at a Club for Growth event on Thursday.
DeSantis heads to Iowa next week, for the first time this campaign cycle. He has not spoken much publicly about the 2024 campaign, but is considered a certainty to enter the race.
In her speech, Haley will take on congressional Republicans and potential presidential contenders.
“Don’t let the media tell you that Republicans and Democrats can’t work together,” Haley would say, “when they spend your money they always seem to work better.”