Advertisement

Haley to barnstorm nation on fundraising tour as South Carolina primary inches closer

Haley to barnstorm nation on fundraising tour as South Carolina primary inches closer

Republican Nikki Haley will barnstorm the country with at least 17 fundraisers across five states over the next several weeks as the eyes of the nation turn to the upcoming rematch between her and former President Donald Trump in Haley's home state of South Carolina.

Fundraisers are scheduled in Columbia, Charleston and Greenville, South Carolina, just days before the state's primary.

Haley's other fundraising events, some of which she is expected to attend, will be split between four states -- New York, California, Texas and Florida -- as she continues to make the pitch to both voters and deep-pocketed Republican donors that her candidacy against Trump remains viable following an 11-point loss in New Hampshire and a third-place finish in Iowa.

Puck News first reported the fundraising swing.

PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign event at The North Charleston Coliseum, on Jan. 24, 2024, in North Charleston, S.C.  (Sean Rayford/AP)
PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign event at The North Charleston Coliseum, on Jan. 24, 2024, in North Charleston, S.C. (Sean Rayford/AP)

MORE: Jennifer Crumbley, Michigan school shooter's mother, to testify in manslaughter trial

Haley's back-to-back fundraising schedule comes on the heels of Trump declaring on Wednesday night that "from this moment on," Haley donors are "permanently barred from the MAGA camp," an unprecedented move that has jarred several GOP donors.

For months leading up to the Iowa caucuses, major Republican donors showed signs of coalescing behind Haley amid her rise and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' crash in the polls.

That upward trajectory was partially reflected in the Haley-aligned super PAC SFA Inc.'s latest fundraising haul, with the group announcing on Thursday that it raised a whopping $50 million in the second half of 2023, topping the pro-Trump super PAC Make America Great Again Inc.'s haul during the same period.

While the strong numbers may allay the fears of some skittish donors and offer some short-term confidence that Haley's operation has the cash to keep going, the campaign is nonetheless being hit with fresh questions about the viability of her path to the Republican nomination.

Donors holding steady … for now

Haley's 11-point loss in New Hampshire -- a state whose large crop of moderate Republican and independent voters was seen as fertile ground for her campaign -- did not appear to fully deplete Republicans' confidence in her ability to defeat Donald Trump in the GOP primary.

But the results were not enough to prevent defections from two major donors -- Reid Hoffman and Andy Sabin, who now say they consider the race for the nomination effectively over.

Still, some of Haley's longtime supporters say they are sticking with her as her campaign continues to say she will be in the race at least through South Carolina.

Munir Lalani, a Dallas hotel management CEO attending the fundraiser on Feb. 15, told ABC News he is a "steadfast" Haley supporter who will support her "as long as there is a pathway, however slim."

"We expect her to do very, very well," added John DeWorken, a Greenville city councilman co-hosting Haley's fundraiser there.

Nonetheless, ABC News' conversations suggest Haley may need help recruiting new donors worried about spending cash on a candidate with such a narrow path to the nomination.

"I won't say it's not a concern," Jiten Agarwal, a Houston-based tech entrepreneur raising money for Haley, told ABC News.

"Some people tell me they're concerned there may not be a path to the GOP nomination," he said, adding that he encourages these people to give less money now and observe how she performs moving forward.

"I tell them, 'Let's support her through the last mile,'" Agarwal said.

Dueling fundraisers in Greenville

The Greenville fundraiser on Feb. 19, the final one before South Carolina's primary just days later, takes place a day before her rival Trump's fundraiser in the same city.

PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign event, in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Jan. 24, 2024. (Erik S. Lesser/EPA via Shutterstock)
PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign event, in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Jan. 24, 2024. (Erik S. Lesser/EPA via Shutterstock)

MORE: Ex-Trump aide Peter Navarro sentenced to 4 months for defying Jan. 6 committee subpoena

Top Republicans from the state will host Trump's Greenville fundraiser. Gov. Henry McMaster and Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette are among the hosts, and the list includes those who have previously been Trump's political opponents, like Sen. Tim Scott, who was recently Trump's 2024 rival, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was once critical of Trump but has since pledged to throw all his support behind him.

Haley's Greenville fundraiser, on the other hand, is hosted by a group of longtime friends and allies, like Bush-appointed former Ambassador David Wilkins, Greenville City Council member John DeWorken and businessman Dennis Braasch.

Braasch, a South Carolina-based construction company executive, told ABC News he's been a Republican-leaning voter for a long time but voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020. He said he'd vote for Biden again if it came to a choice between Biden and Trump, even though he's been looking for an alternative because he believes the sitting president has been "fiscally irresponsible."

"Trump will not get my vote," Braasch said, adding he believes Trump is "amoral" and "self-centered."

Braasch is optimistic about Haley's path forward, suggesting that the fact Trump is holding a fundraiser in Greenville the day after Haley's fundraiser is a sign that they feel "threatened."

"My voice to Nikki Haley is to keep pushing her. We're behind you, and if it doesn't work this time, she'll be president next cycle," he said.

But former Trump-appointed Ambassador Ed McMullen, a longtime fundraiser for Trump who is co-hosting Trump's Greenville event, shot down the idea. McMullen said Team Trump is "not concerned about Nikki Haley" because Trump has built a solid support base from Republicans while she is courting "traditional Democrats."

"We stay focused on the president's objectives, and the president's objective is to win and raise a substantial amount of money in South Carolina," he said.

Haley's $2 million haul

Meanwhile, Haley's team is touting an influx of $2 million since her loss on Tuesday, half of which the campaign says came after Trump threatened donors with being "permanently barred" from MAGA world if they continue to back her.

PHOTO: Republican presidential hopeful and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley holds a rally, on Jan.  24, 2024, in North Charleston, South Carolina.  (Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Republican presidential hopeful and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley holds a rally, on Jan. 24, 2024, in North Charleston, South Carolina. (Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

MORE: Woman, 25, dies from allergic reaction after eating mislabeled cookies with peanuts from Stew Leonard's

And at a rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday night, Haley continued to tout her grassroots fundraising efforts.

"We have had 200,000 donors from all 50 states. 95% of those donations are $200 or less," Haley told the crowd. "This is about real Americans."

Some of Haley's bigger donors tell ABC News they are unconcerned with Trump's threat.

"Who cares?" Lalani said. "I'm too old to be intimidated."

"It doesn't resonate with me at all, not one bit," DeWorken echoed.

Agarwal called Trump's comments "empty threats" that won't impact small-dollar donors, but which may, he predicted, spook "the big New York donors" with deeper pockets.

But a donor co-hosting multiple Haley fundraisers told ABC News that the comments are "backfiring big time" and have actually "animated more donors" to support Haley.

Haley's campaign has pounced on the opportunity to take advantage of Trump's remark, posting a link on X encouraging supporters to donate to her campaign and receive a "BARRED PERMANETLY" T-shirt.

"Enough said...Grab your shirt here," Haley said in the post.

"Donald Trump said if you support me, he will permanently bar you from the MAGA camp," the Haley campaign's fundraising appeal read. "I will not be intimidated."

Haley to barnstorm nation on fundraising tour as South Carolina primary inches closer originally appeared on abcnews.go.com