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Trump warns Haley’s billionaire backers to halt support

Donald Trump has warned donors that they will be “barred” from his “MAGA camp” if they make further contributions to Nikki Haley’s campaign, raising the stakes for her billionaire backers a day after she was defeated in the New Hampshire primary.

After dominating the first two contests in the Republican race, Trump has tried to snuff out his rival’s campaign, labelling her an “imposter” who lacks a real base of support among the party.

But Trump went further on Wednesday night, moving to choke off the funding that Haley hopes will propel her campaign to the next primary contest, in her home state of South Carolina, in late February.

“Anybody that makes a ‘Contribution’ to Birdbrain, from this moment forth, will be permanently barred from the MAGA camp,” Trump wrote in a post on his social media site Truth Social, using a nickname for Haley. “We don’t want them, and will not accept them, because we Put America First, and ALWAYS WILL!”

Haley responded to Trump’s threat by posting on X, “Well in that case . . . donate here. Let’s Go!”, along with a link to her donation page. She added that her campaign had raised $1mn in the 24 hours since the New Hampshire primary.

Trump’s threat could complicate the decisions of some billionaires backing Haley, after her defeats in Iowa and New Hampshire left her bid for the White House hanging by a thread.

Ken Langone, co-founder of US retail chain Home Depot, told the Financial Times last week that he was waiting to see how Haley performed in New Hampshire before he considered making a “major gift” to her campaign, saying he did not want to “throw money down a rat hole”. A representative for Langone said he was unavailable on Wednesday for comment.

Reid Hoffman, the billionaire co-founder of LinkedIn who gave a six-figure sum to Haley’s bid, has closed his wallet, according to a person familiar with the matter.

“To raise more money for Governor Haley, I’d have to see a path for her to win the primary,” said Dmitri Mehlhorn, an anti-Trump strategist and adviser to Hoffman. “That was plausible if she won New Hampshire, but I don’t see it now.” 

Haley is Trump’s last major challenger in the race to become the Republican nominee for president after Florida governor Ron DeSantis dropped out of the race last week.

Several donors have been drawn to Haley because of her hawkish foreign policy views, delicate messaging on abortion and potential to turn the page on Trump. She drew praise from JPMorgan chief Jamie Dimon, a Democrat, and earned the backing of Americans for Prosperity Action, founded by libertarian billionaire Charles Koch.

Deep-pocketed financiers Stanley Druckenmiller, Cliff Asness, Langone and Henry Kravis are scheduled to co-host a Haley fundraiser in New York next week, according to an invitation, though it is not known how many will attend. Druckenmiller, Asness and Kravis declined to comment.

Lawyer Eric Levine, another co-host, said he was “undaunted and unbowed” despite Haley’s struggles in the primary race. He had not heard of any other donors cancelling contributions or fundraisers, he told the FT.

“The Trump folks were saying they’d win by 20 or 30 — they didn’t,” Levine said, referring to the former president’s 11-point margin of victory over Haley in New Hampshire. “It’s always better if you win, but I’m not hearing anything adverse from the folks we’re raising from. People seem to remain enthusiastic.”

Philanthropist Simone Levinson, another co-host of next week’s fundraiser, said Trump’s tirade after his victory on Tuesday had affirmed her decision to back Haley.

The speech “was a sobering reminder of . . . why he has not won a race, or brought our country together, since his election in 2016”, Levinson said.

But an adviser to one Haley donor warned that she could have “a hard time getting donors to double down” and attract others. 

“I think if [Trump’s margin of victory in New Hampshire] was under five points, she’d be bringing in new donors and there’d be a lot of enthusiasm,” the adviser said. “Now it’s status quo or less enthusiasm.

“No one went into this thinking the odds were that likely,” added the adviser. “But the low odds got lower.”

Haley and SFA Fund, the pro-Haley fundraising super-political action committee, have maintained that she will continue campaigning into next month’s South Carolina primary, though opinion polls show her trailing Trump there by a large margin.

South Carolina governor Henry McMaster and the state’s senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott have all endorsed Trump.

“Our donors have been in this for the long haul from the beginning,” said SFA Fund political strategist Mark Harris.

“The Trump campaign and super Pacs will outspend us. That is fine,” Harris added. “We are the ones storming the castle.”

Additional reporting by Lauren Fedor in Manchester, New Hampshire, and Ortenca Aliaj in New York

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