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DeSantis campaign suffers massive blow as Koch-funded kingmaker calls Nikki Haley the best chance to beat Trump

Nikki Haley
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, listens to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speak during the Family Leader's Thanksgiving Family Forum in Des Moines, Iowa, on November 17, 2023.AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
  • The DeSantis campaign is not happy that Americans for Prosperity Action is backing Haley's 2024 bid.

  • The conservative network in a memo said that Haley is the "strongest" GOP candidate in a contest with President Biden.

  • DeSantis spokesman Andrew Romeo on X accused the network of "lining up behind a moderate."

Ron DeSantis' presidential campaign was up in arms on Tuesday after the conservative political network launched by the Koch Brothers threw its support behind former UN ambassador Nikki Haley's presidential bid.

In a new memo, the group stated that Haley had the political chops "to take on our nation's biggest challenges and help ensure our country's best days are ahead" and added that they believe the former South Carolina governor is best-positioned to take down Trump in the upcoming primaries.

The decision from Americans for Prosperity Action, which was reported by The New York Times, is a major blow to the Florida governor, as he's so far been unable to put a dent in former President Donald Trump's massive lead in the GOP presidential primary. In recent weeks, DeSantis seen his support stagnate nationally and in critical New Hampshire — where Haley has moved past him in most polling.

DeSantis spokesman Andrew Romeo on Tuesday took to X in an attempt to paint Americans for Prosperity Action as part of a political establishment that DeSantis has long railed against.

"Congratulations to Donald Trump on securing the Koch endorsement," Romeo wrote. "Like clockwork, the pro-open borders, pro-jail break bill establishment is lining up behind a moderate who has no mathematical pathway of defeating the former president."

"Every dollar spent on Nikki Haley's candidacy should be reported as an in-kind to the Trump campaign," he continued. "No one has a stronger record of beating the establishment than Ron DeSantis, and this time will be no different."

DeSantis in recent weeks has went "all in" on hitching his campaign's success to the Iowa caucuses, as a victory in the state could give him the momentum he'd need for the later contests. But Trump continues to lead by a sizable margin in the Hawkeye State and Haley has seen her share of support rise in the state as the critical GOP contest is now less than two months away.

DeSantis campaign press secretary Bryan Griffin also mocked the endorsement on Tuesday, placing an agreement emoji between Americans for Prosperity Action, Trump, and Haley on X.

And Christina Pushaw, the DeSantis campaign's rapid response director, also slammed the group's endorsement of Haley, writing on X that she was "disappointed" that it was now backing "the corporate welfare candidate."

Haley on Tuesday said she was "honored" to have earned the endorsement from Americans for Prosperity Action.

"This is a choice between freedom and socialism, individual liberty and big government, fiscal responsibility and spiraling debt," the GOP candidate said in a statement.

The DeSantis campaign has argued that Haley has no path to the GOP nomination, but no other candidate — including DeSantis — has been able to overtake Trump in polling in any of the early-nominating states. The support from Americans for Prosperity Action will now give Haley critical financial and organizational help in the lead-up to Iowa and New Hampshire.

Read the original article on Business Insider