🔴 Chris Christie hosts a town hall at Saint Anselm College's New Hampshire Institute of Politics

🔴 Nikki Haley is in Dover for her own town hall at the Restoration Church

🔴 Gov. Chris Sununu has yet to made a decision about a 2024 presidential run


One Republican 2024 presidential candidate and another considering it will be in New Hampshire on Monday, with a third scheduled for an April visit.

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will host a town hall at Saint Anselm College's New Hampshire Institute of Politics. Nikki Haley is making a return trip to the Seacoast with a town hall of her own at Restoration Church in Dover. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is scheduled to make his first trip to New Hampshire and attend the Amos Tuck Dinner on April 14.

Haley visited Exeter on February 17 as part of her campaign kickoff, while Christie has not made any decision about a 2024 run. Christie ended his campaign after a sixth place finish in the 2016 New Hampshire primary, and threw his support behind Donald Trump.

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley was quick to tie Haley to Donald Trump. Haley served as UN Ambassador during the first two years of the Trump Administration. She also has support from former U.S. Senate candidate Don Bolduc.

“Since her last visit to New Hampshire, Trump loyalist Nikki Haley has only tripled down on her extreme MAGA agenda to cut Social Security and Medicare, ban abortion, and prop up notorious election deniers. With a platform like that, it’s no wonder Haley can’t name a single difference between herself and her former boss and friend, Donald Trump," Buckley said in a statement.

Buckley also took issue with Christie's political separation from Trump. Once a close advisor to Trump, Christie has spoken out against Trump and his insistence that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Trump in turn has mocked Christie and his weight on his Truth social media platform.

“Chris Christie goes wherever the political winds blow him, so it’s no surprise that he’s joining 2024 GOP hopefuls flocking to New Hampshire to test the waters in his quest for power. No matter how hard Christie might try to rewrite history, nothing can change his track record of championing Donald Trump’s MAGA agenda and repeatedly using his political career for his personal gain.”

Campaign sings for Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in 2016
Campaign sings for Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in 2016 (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Two-Way Race So Far

SNHU Civic Scholar and founder of NH Political Capital Dean Spiliotes says it's still early in the primary process, and things are just beginning to shake out between the leading candidates. So far, it's a two-way race between Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, with a wide gap between the rest of the announced and potential field.

"One of the interesting things that I'm watching is that the national polling over the last few weeks has showed Trump getting stronger and DeSantis dropping back a little bit over the last couple of months. But the state polling in Iowa and New Hampshire both show very competitive races between the two of them," Spiliotes said.

A Public Opinion Strategies poll taken March 23-25 reported by Axios Monday shows Trump and DeSantis tied in New Hampshire at 39%-39% in a head-to-head matchup. Trump takes a 12-point lead over DeSantis when Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy are added to the poll.

A national Monmouth University poll taken March 16-20 gives Trump a 41%-27% lead over DeSantis, with Haley at 3%.

Spiliotes says the process has become shorter in the past few cycles, and that things are only shaking out at this point.

"But that's just kind of how the process has developed in recent years. The process itself, I think, is a lot faster. But it seems to be taking a little bit longer to get going these days," Spiliotes said.

Nikki Haley with Don Bolduc during a campaign event in Salem
Nikki Haley with Don Bolduc during a campaign event in Salem (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Trump and Sununu Factors

One wild card in the primary is how potential indictments against Trump could affect the race.

"It may motivate and solidify his core base of support. In a general election, it's probably going to continue to push more independence away from him. And that's problematic. The other thing is that Republican political elites and elected officials have kind of suggested that the party is moving away from him," Spiliotes said. "The question is what are rank and file voters who vote in primaries going to do, and we just we don't really have a handle on that yet."

A decision by Governor Chris Sununu about a 2024 presidential campaign will also be a big factor. In a recent appearance on CNN's State of the Union, he hinted that could come by summer. A decision will likely help his polling numbers, which so far have been in the single digits.

The issue of abortion would put Sununu in the same pro-choice political lane as Christie and Scott. Sununu says his support of the 24-week limit he signed in 2020 is in line with the majority of Americans, according to Spiliotes.

"But that's not where a majority of Republican primary voters are, particularly in places like Iowa, where you have a very strong Evangelical community that participates, or even in a place like South Carolina, same thing," Spiliotes said.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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