Washington: Keeping his Vice Presidential choice tightly under wraps, Republican frontrunner and former US President Donald Trump has ruled out Indian-American rival Nikki Haley as his running mate for 2024.
Addressing a rally on Friday at Concord, in the run-up to the New Hampshire nominating contest, Trump said that the former South Carolina Governor, who finished third in Iowa, “is OK, but she is not presidential timber”.
“And when I say that, that probably means she is not going to be chosen as the vice president,” Trump, fresh out of his landslide caucus victory by claiming 50 per cent of the vote, told his supporters, The Hill reported.
“When you say certain things, it sort of takes them out of play, right?” he added.
“I can’t say, ‘She’s not of the timber to be the vice president’ and then say, ‘Ladies and gentleman, I’m proud to announce that I’ve picked’.”
According to former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Haley would be a good pick to balance out Trump’s weaknesses as a candidate.
But Haley, who remains confident about her election as the next US President, has said she is not keen on playing Trump’s second-in command.
“I don’t play for a second. I’ve never played for a second. I’m not going to start now. I’m not interested in being Vice President. I’m running to be President and I’m running to win and we will,” she said in a CBS News interview.
Polls show she is much closer to Trump in New Hampshire, where she is expected to benefit from a more moderate Republican primary electorate — with undeclared voters participating in the January 23 contest.
A recent CBS/YouGov poll had revealed that it is Haley who right now holds a bigger lead over President Joe Biden than either Trump or Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in potential head-to-head match-ups.
With the New Hampshire primary scheduled for January 23, and South Carolina on February 3, the former UN Ambassador said that the Republican presidential race will be a contest between her and Trump.
In recent weeks, Trump has stepped up attacks against Haley, saying she needs Biden’s supporters to “infiltrate” the party primary to perform well in New Hampshire.
Early this week, he reposted a report from the right-wing website The Gateway Pundit that said Haley was not a US citizen because her immigrant parents were not citizens at the time of her birth.
The former President also used the Concord rally to take potshots at New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, who is endorsing Haley, and fellow presidential rival DeSantis.
Trump said Sununu was backing a candidate who wasn’t “capable” of doing the job, adding that Haley wasn’t “tough enough,” “smart enough” or “respected enough” to win the Republican party nomination.
He dubbed Florida Governor DeSantis one of the greatest “self-destructions I think I’ve ever witnessed” and claimed that Sununu “didn’t have the guts’ to run for President”.
An average of New Hampshire surveys compiled by Decision Desk HQ and The Hill shows Trump ahead 11 points over Haley at roughly 46 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively.