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Nikki Haley touts New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu’s ‘huge’ endorsement

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(WASHINGTON) — Former U.N. ambassador and Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley sat down alongside New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu to tout his endorsement of her in a joint interview with ABC “This Week” co-anchor Jonathan Karl.

“It’s huge, you know, first to have the endorsement of the largest conservative, freedom-loving grassroots organization in the country with Americans for Prosperity and then go get the endorsement of the ‘Live Free or Die’ governor,” Haley told Karl in an interview that aired on Sunday, referring to the backing of Americans for Prosperity Action. “I mean, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Sununu, who appeared with Haley this week at several campaign stops, sang her praises as a candidate who he said will fight to earn the support of Granite State voters, though she still seriously trails front-runner Donald Trump in both state and national polling.

“No one in New Hampshire is gonna vote for Nikki Haley just because the governor says so right? You earn it,” Sununu said. “I think we’ve been pretty successful in knowing how to earn it, how to engage with constituencies.”

“For the next 40 days, we’re partners because we honestly believe we have a country to save and we’re determined to do it,” Haley added, touting Sununu’s new help on the campaign trail.

On Trump: ‘Y’all want me to either love him or hate him all the time’

Despite the endorsement and a recent increase in several nationwide and statewide polls, Haley has a lot of ground to try and make up with Republican voters before the primary begins in just a few weeks. Trump, despite his controversies and legal troubles — he denies wrongdoing — remains very popular with the base.

While she has stepped up her criticism of the former president, Haley still insists that Trump was “the right president at the right time” and that he is “fit” for office.

“Looking at the situation now, our country’s in disarray. The world is on fire and chaos follows him,” Haley said. “And we can’t have a country in chaos for four more years or we won’t survive it.”

“But is it chaos follows him or does he create the chaos?” Karl pushed back on Haley. “I mean, that sounds so passive — ‘chaos follows him."”

“Rightly or wrongly, you call it whatever you want to call it. But when you feel it, it’s chaos,” Haley responded.

Last week, the special counsel leading the federal election subversion case against Trump asked the Supreme Court to step in and decide the issue of Trump’s presidential immunity. The former president’s legal team has sought to dismiss the case citing what they claim is Trump’s “absolute immunity” from prosecution for actions taken while serving in the nation’s highest office. Trump has pleaded not guilty to his charges.

“Do you believe a president has absolute immunity for anything that happens while they’re president?” Karl asked.

“I’m gonna let the courts figure that out. I mean, the last thing you’re gonna see me do is weigh in or learn the details about any of his court cases because I can’t follow 91 charges. I’m not going to,” Haley said.

Karl pushed back, asking Haley whether she agreed with the issue on principle – that a president has absolute immunity for anything done while in office. Haley again deferred to the courts.

“I think the court issues are: Do you have immunity when you’re president, when you’re not president? At what point does that line fall? I’m gonna let judges decide that,” she said. “President Trump’s gonna have to defend himself no matter what. If he’s found guilty, he’s found guilty. If he’s found innocent, he’s found innocent. It would be wasted energy for me to sit there and focus on court cases and not focus on how to win that room [of voters] that we just left.”

At a town hall on Wednesday in Newport, New Hampshire, a voter challenged Haley to “turn it up on Donald Trump” and “go after him hard.” Karl asked what Haley says to those voters who say she needs to draw a firmer line on where she stands on Trump.

“Anti-Trumpers want me to hate him, pro-Trumpers want me to love him, but this is where I stand. There are things I agree with the president on. … There are things I don’t agree [with],” Haley said, highlighting differences with Trump on his handling of China, fentanyl and the national debt when he was president.

When Karl continued to press Haley on the former president, Haley attempted to redirect those questions, saying he should answer them, not her.

“You want to talk about Trump, if you really want to talk about Trump, why don’t you go ask him if he’s gonna get on a debate stage in Iowa, where Iowa’s voting? Why don’t you go ask him if he’s gonna get on a debate stage in New Hampshire, where Granite Staters are voting?” Haley said.

“That’s what you should be asking as the media, not asking about what he happened to say today,” she said.

Abortion: ‘It’s not as cut and dry as everybody wants’

Karl also sought to clarify Haley’s position on the controversial Texas Supreme Court ruling on abortion last week. The court ruled that 31-year-old Kate Cox could not receive an abortion, even though her fetus had been diagnosed with a nearly always fatal condition and doctors had said her health and future fertility were potentially in jeopardy.

“Did you agree with that decision by the Texas Supreme Court?” Karl asked.

“I think that it is the right thing that unelected justices no longer decide this and it’s in the hands of the people,” Haley said, referring to the overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022 that removed nationwide abortion access protections. “I appreciate that Texas went more on the pro-life side. But as we go through this, listen, my heart broke for her because I had trouble having my children.”

“The states are now going to have to look at these because what we don’t want to see is a woman with a rare condition having to carry a baby until term,” Haley said.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is also seeking the Republican presidential nomination, has criticized Haley for her response on the court case, saying it’s a “word salad” without directly answering if the court decision was right or wrong.

Karl noted Christie’s criticism, asking Haley, “Can you give a direct answer now?”

Haley said that the Texas Supreme Court responded by interpreting state law, and that lawmakers now have an opportunity to change it.

“The court had to follow the law,” she said. “Now it’s up to the Legislature in Texas to say, ‘How do we make sure there are no more Kates that go through that?’ … It’s not as cut and dry as everybody wants, but states will self-correct to this. That’s what they do.”

Sununu on N.H.: ‘It’s an absolute win.’

Questioned if she needs to win a state like New Hampshire in order to put her in the position for ultimately winning the GOP nomination over Trump, Haley said her goal is to be “strong” in the early voting states beginning next month.

“My goal is to be strong in Iowa, strong in New Hampshire, strong in South Carolina,” she said.

“But, you you need to win somewhere? Right? I mean–” Karl challenged the former governor.

“You’re saying that. What I’m saying is, why don’t we try and do the best we can in every state and let the people decide which way this goes?” she responded.

“I think I’m going to be strong in Iowa. I think I’m going to be strong in New Hampshire. I think we’re going to be strong in South Carolina [in February] and I think we’re gonna take it and we’re not settling for anything else,” she said.

The governor of the Granite State stepped in to predict that Haley, despite the polling, will win the state in a “landslide.”

“It’s an absolute win. No, it’s a win and a reset button. If everyone that could vote in the primary comes out and votes … she’s gonna win in a landslide, and that’s not an exaggeration,” Sununu insisted.

“No, it’s not an expectation, it’s people getting excited.”

“We can feel it on the ground,” Haley said, echoing Sununu. “We’re going to do this.”

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