Trump welcomes DeSantis endorsement and slams Haley in New Hampshire: ‘So far ahead’

Rochester, New Hampshire — Former President Donald Trump welcomed the new support of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and savaged his last remaining primary opponent during a raucous rally in New Hampshire.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is polling relatively close to Trump in the Granite State, and Trump went after her repeatedly on Sunday night.

“As you know, Nikki Haley has made an unholy alliance with RINOs and never Trumpers,” Trump said to cheers in the tiny Rochester Opera House, adding that she wants “liberals and Biden supporters” to vote for her. “The people behind Nikki are pro-amnesty, pro-China, pro-open borders, pro-war, pro-deep state, and they’re pro-Biden.”

Movement in the race is accelerating as DeSantis added his name to the list of dropouts Sunday afternoon, joining entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who have all called it quits within the last two weeks.


DeSantis gave Trump a tepid endorsement as part of his announcement, to which Trump said he was retiring the nickname “Ron DeSanctimonious.”

“He ran a really great campaign for president. They think it’s easy, it’s not easy,” Trump said. “I just want to thank Ron and congratulate him on doing a good job.”

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks on stage during a campaign event in Rochester, N.H., Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Trump was less gracious when it came to Haley, now his only obstacle on the route to the GOP presidential nomination. He attacked her early and often one day after rolling out a throng of South Carolina-based endorsers at a separate New Hampshire rally.

“The radical left Democrats are supporting Nikki for a very simple reason, because they know she’s easy to beat,” Trump said. He also accused Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH), who has endorsed Haley, of wanting to run for president himself but being too scared to announce it.

But Haley also welcomed the DeSantis news, saying, “It’s now one fella and one lady left” at her own Sunday event, sounding a note of triumph.

“What the people of New Hampshire should know is, when we win the presidency in this country, I will do everything I can to prove to you that you made the right decision,” she declared. “But for now, I’ll leave you with this — may the best woman win.”

Another woman, former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, was seen at Trump’s rally ahead of the proceedings, inspiring chants of “VP! VP! VP!” as she waved to the crowd and did an impromptu interview with the Washington Examiner.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks on stage during a campaign event in Rochester, N.H., Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

But despite Trump’s boasts and polling edge, Haley said there’s a long way to go in the race.

“So far, only one state has voted,” her campaign said. “Half of its votes went to Donald Trump, and half did not. We’re not a country of coronations. Voters deserve a say in whether we go down the road of Trump and Biden again, or we go down a new conservative road.”

A packed crowd of Trump supporters began cheering, “Trump! Trump! Trump!” well over an hour before he was set to take the stage, as a series of warm-up acts sang the front-runner’s praises. Trump extended the anticipation by showing up nearly 20 minutes late, though the crowd did not mind, giving him a standing ovation as he took the stage to Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to Be an American.”

During a 90-minute speech, Trump hit on well-worn themes of his campaigns, including securing the border and promising to end foreign wars rather than start them, with immigration arguably drawing the biggest response from attendees.

Supporters reacting during a campaign event for Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump in Rochester, N.H., Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

“People are coming in from all parts of the world, speaking languages that people have never even heard of, and that are being dumped into our country,” he said. “They’re coming in from mental institutions. They’re coming in from jails and prisons. They’re terrorists, and they’re coming in at levels that nobody’s ever seen before.”

He promised to end “every open border policy” on his first day in office and said that Haley “fought me on the border wall” while condemning his border policies.

President Joe Biden was the subject of plenty of criticism as well.

“We have a man who can’t put two sentences together negotiating with President Xi of China; he’s negotiating with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin,” Trump said. “We have never, ever had a situation like this, and the only reason the stock market is holding out is because they think we’re going to win the election.”

As he has at other recent rallies, Trump riffed on the need for immunity from prosecution for presidents, saying other commanders-in-chief have made controversial decisions, including military decisions that left people dead but were not prosecuted after leaving office.

“You have to allow a president to do his job,” he said. “If you have a president who doesn’t have immunity, he’s never going to be free to do anything because the opposing party will always indict him as soon as he leaves the White House.”

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump during a campaign stop in Rochester, N.H., Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The crowd booed as Trump mentioned that he’d be spending more time in court, saying it was all done by political operatives who wouldn’t let him move a court date even to attend his mother-in-law’s funeral.

“This is election interference,” Trump said, promising the “Biden court” cases will open a pandora’s box. “And if we allow this to continue, it’s a two-way street — because whoever the next president is, I won’t say who, they will be allowed to do that. And it would be a three-ring circus.”


Trump predicted he would beat Haley on Tuesday and that doing so would effectively end the primary.

“Hopefully, that should wrap it up,” he said. “Because we are so far ahead.”