Trump Takes Aim at New Hampshire’s GOP Open Primary System

Trump Takes Aim at New Hampshire’s GOP Open Primary System


The former president says opponent Nikki Haley is ‘counting on Democrats and liberals to infiltrate’ the state’s Republican primaries.

Former president Donald Trump criticized New Hampshire’s open Republican primary during a Jan. 17 campaign speech in the state.

After President Trump won a record-shattering victory by a nearly 30-point margin in the Iowa Caucus, candidates are turning their attention to the next contest in the Granite State.

Recent polling in the state has been inconsistent, with some polls showing a significant lead for President Trump while others have shown him neck and neck with former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley.

Ms. Haley finished third in Iowa but is coming into much more friendly territory in New Hampshire, where voters are generally less conservative and less religious than in Iowa.

The state’s Republican primary is also open to voters who have no party affiliation—a fact that could play to Ms. Haley’s advantage, as Democrats and independents boosted Ms. Haley’s performance in Iowa.

Speaking in Portsmouth, New Hampshire—his second campaign stop in the state since Iowa—President Trump condemned the state’s open primary system and accused Ms. Haley of trying to win by courting non-Republicans.

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“Nikki Haley is counting on Democrats and liberals to infiltrate your Republican primaries,” President Trump said and was met by a responding chorus of boos from the crowd.

President Trump also continued his offensive posturing against Ms. Haley, his biggest critic still in the race.

He accused Ms. Haley’s backers of being “pro-amnesty, pro-China, pro-open borders, [and] pro-war.”

President Trump linked his attack on Ms. Haley back to the state’s open primary system, saying that Democrats “want to run against her.”

“The radical left Democrats are supporting Nikki Haley because they know she’s much easier to beat than Trump,” he said later. “If she wins, Biden wins.”

“Biden people are coming in, they have Biden stuff, and they’re coming in to register and to vote in your primary,” President Trump said. “It is crazy. You got to get that changed.”

“How do you win where everybody’s allowed, basically, to come and vote?” he added.

President Trump called on New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu—a Republican who’s backing Ms. Haley—to change the primary system.

“We don’t want Democrats voting in the Republican primary, Sununu,” he said.

President Trump has largely been silent on his other leading rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, on the campaign trail in New Hampshire.

Mr. DeSantis finished second in Iowa with roughly 21 percent of the vote. But in New Hampshire, by contrast, Mr. DeSantis is polling at 5.8 percent according to RealClearPolitics averages.

The same polling averages place President Trump as the frontrunner with 46.3 percent support. Ms. Haley, by contrast, has 33 percent support.

More recent polling in the state has been inconsistent.

A Jan. 17 poll by St. Anselm College found that President Trump is leading in New Hampshire by 14 percent.
But another recent poll by American Research Group Inc. found that President Trump and Ms. Haley are in a dead heat at 40 percent each.

New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary will be held on Jan. 23 and represents a significant test for Ms. Haley.

The political terrain in the New England state is more centrist and less conservative than in other parts of the United States—a fact that former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie relied on in his failed bid for the White House.

Now, Ms. Haley’s team is reportedly seeking to capture Mr. Christie’s supporters, which puts her in firing distance of President Trump’s 14-point lead in the state.

A win in New Hampshire could keep her in the race, potentially giving her the momentum to become the leading rival to President Trump.

Failure to win the state, where anti-Trump sentiments are more pronounced than elsewhere, could indicate trouble for Ms. Haley.

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