((JEWISH REVIEW)) — Ron DeSantis’ decision to end his presidential campaign leaves Nikki Haley as the only serious Republican challenger to Donald Trump, potentially consolidating her support among Jewish voters and donors in the party who seek an alternative to the former president.
Trump responded to DeSantis’ exit by ramping up his attacks on Haley, the former South Carolina governor and ambassador to the United Nations who has close ties to the pro-Israel establishment and has been a favorite among Jewish and pro-Israel donors who want to avoid a second Trump-Biden matchup in November.
“Nikki Haley is the candidate of the globalists and Democrats who will do everything to stop the America First movement,” Trump’s campaign said in a statement, using a term that has been used as an antisemitic dog whistle and echoes anti-Jewish conspiracy theories.
DeSantis announced his exit on Sunday after he came in a distant second last week in Iowa, the first nominating contest in the Republican primaries. The announcement capped a campaign in which the Florida governor was initially seen as the most serious threat to Trump but saw his support steadily decline as the primaries neared.
He has long staked out positions popular among pro-Israel conservatives and repeatedly traveled to Israel to demonstrate his support. He has also declared a “war on woke” and has aggressively taken on culture-war positions — including about abortion, LGBTQ rights and book bans — that have traditionally not resonated as much with Jewish voters. At one point, his campaign fired an aide who made a video promoting him that featured a Nazi symbol.
DeSantis has thrown his support behind Trump.
For those who want to see a more traditional politician return the White House to the Republicans, Haley has been an attractive option. She has garnered more support than any other candidate from the leadership of the Republican Jewish Coalition, according to a Haaretz report last summer, and multiple prominent Jewish Republicans have organized fundraisers on her behalf.
Whether those fundraisers take place will likely depend on the outcome in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday. Trump currently has a double-digit lead in polls. After his decisive win in Iowa, he said during his victory speech that he would end the current conflict in Israel “very fast” if he becomes president, without elaborating on how he would do so.