Nikki Haley looks for a strong showing, not necessarily a win, in Iowa caucuses

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For Nikki Haley, a win in Iowa doesn’t necessarily mean a win in the state’s Republican presidential caucuses. “The way I look at it, we just need to have a good showing in Iowa,” the former South Carolina governor said Friday in response to a question during a town hall event in Sioux City. “I don’t think that means we have to win necessarily, but I think that means we have to have a good showing.” The comments stand in stark contrast to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who declared decisively that “we’re going to win Iowa” on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last Sunday. DeSantis wouldn’t say whether he would end his campaign if he didn’t finish first or second.

DeSantis and Haley are likely battling for a second-place finish since former President Donald Trump continues to sit comfortably atop the field in polls of Republicans in Iowa and nationwide. The DeSantis campaign has largely focused on Iowa, hoping to deny Trump a big win in the caucuses. A super PAC supporting DeSantis has invested more than $16 million in advertising and more in building a campaign organisation. But DeSantis has faced growing pressure from Haley, who is piquing the interest of donors and voters looking for an alternative to Trump. She recently won the support of the Koch Network, the largest conservative grassroots organisation in the nation.

Dan Dykstra asked Haley the question Friday, wondering what percentage she’d need to get in Iowa to be satisfied. Dykstra acknowledged that Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is supporting DeSantis, but “that doesn’t mean I have to,” the 68-year-old attorney said. The Sioux City Republican will likely choose Haley or DeSantis on Jan 15, but he hasn’t committed just yet. What he really wanted to know: How would Haley, or any candidate, deny Trump the nomination? Haley said a strong showing in Iowa would tee up a favourable match-up between her and the former president in her home state of South Carolina.

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“If she can beat DeSantis and keep the momentum going,” Dykstra said, “then I think that’s a big deal.”