Trump-backing group focuses attention on attacking Haley

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The super PAC aligned with former President Donald J. Trump is pouring money for the first time into television ads attacking Nikki Haley, his former U.N. ambassador, who has gained momentum in the Republican primaries.

Make America Great Again, Inc., will air an ad in New Hampshire on Tuesday targeting Ms. Haley, according to a document filed with a television network. The announcement is expected to be published from Tuesday to Sunday, the document said.

Ms. Haley preemptively responded Monday night to the announcement: writing on social media platform, “Two days ago, Donald Trump denied that our surge in New Hampshire existed. He now he is posting a negative ad against me. Someone is getting nervous. #Bring it.”

Haley has risen to second place in New Hampshire, according to a recent CBS News poll. Trump and his affiliated super PAC had previously poured resources into attacking Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who has fallen in the polls and is now battling Haley for second place in early state primaries.

For much of his campaign, DeSantis was the only candidate Trump treated as a serious threat. While Trump sometimes mocked and insulted Haley, he more frequently criticized DeSantis over her name at rallies, and Trump allies have waged a persistent online campaign against DeSantis. Trump's super PAC last funded an ad buy against DeSantis in October, accusing him of supporting Puerto Rican statehood.

But as DeSantis has escalated his attacks on Trump, the former president has turned his attention elsewhere.

Chris Jankowski, former executive director of Never Back Down, the super PAC backing DeSantis, said last summer that such a shift in attention from Trump would be concerning.

“What I would worry about is if one day I woke up and Trump and his team weren't attacking Never Back Down and Ron DeSantis,” Jankowski told the New York Times in July. “That would be worrying. Other than that, we have them right where we want them.”

He resigned from the embattled super PAC last month, among a series of resignations and firings that have roiled the group, the latest being the resignation of Jeff Roe, a chief strategist, on Saturday night. On Monday, a campaign watchdog group filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission accusing the super PAC of effectively serving as DeSantis' campaign.

In recent weeks, Haley has received the endorsement of Chris Sununu, the popular Republican governor of New Hampshire, and has made gains in the state, although she still trails Trump by double digits. Her rise has been fueled by a lean campaign operation and strong debate results that positioned her as a more moderate Republican candidate than some of her counterparts.

Ms. Haley has spent few resources attacking her former boss. At a packed town hall Monday in Iowa, where Haley and DeSantis are locked in a heated race for second place, she instead stressed that Trump was ready to attack her.

“So stay tuned,” he said. “We'll have fun with that one.”

Maggie Haberman and Jazmín Ulloa contributed with reports.



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