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Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has secured a significant endorsement from the political wing of the conservative network led by billionaire Charles Koch, Americans for Prosperity Action (AFP). This move marks the first time AFP has supported a candidate in a Republican presidential primary, potentially opening vast resources for Haley’s campaign against former President Trump.

AFP’s endorsement, announced in a memo on Tuesday, positions Haley as a strong contender not only against Trump in the GOP primaries but also against President Biden in the general election. Emily Seidel, a senior adviser for AFP, expressed the group’s enthusiasm in backing Haley: “AFP Action is proud to throw our full support behind Nikki Haley, who offers America the opportunity to turn the page on the current political era, to win the Republican primary and defeat Joe Biden next November.” The memo highlighted Haley’s capability to lead a policy agenda addressing the nation’s significant challenges and the unique support AFP can provide with its grassroots and data capabilities.

Haley welcomed AFP’s endorsement, framing the 2024 election as a critical choice between contrasting ideologies and policies. Her campaign has been gaining traction, indicated by improved poll numbers and strong debate performances.

This endorsement comes as a shift for AFP, which earlier indicated it would not back Trump, aiming to promote a candidate signifying a new chapter for the Republican Party. The group’s decision to engage in a presidential primary for the first time highlights its desire for a candidate who can “turn the page on the past.”

AFP’s memo explicitly states that both Trump and Biden would exacerbate the country’s political decline. The memo also suggests Haley could attract key independent and moderate voters, a demographic Trump is seen as unlikely to win over.

In response, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s campaign criticized the endorsement, labeling Haley as a moderate without a viable path to defeat Trump. AFP acknowledged DeSantis’s strengths in their memo, having previously endorsed his gubernatorial reelection. The group’s memo addresses potential disappointment among DeSantis supporters but emphasizes avoiding a divided primary field like in 2016.


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