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Republican presidential candidates are mostly bypassing New Hampshire in an effort to stop Trump in Iowa

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Once upon a time, the moderates, mavericks and underdogs of presidential politics had a chance to break into New Hampshire.

Form Sen. John McCainan independent-minded Republican, he resurrected his anemic campaign with a victory in the state’s first presidential primary in the nation in 2008. bill clintona centrist Democrat from Arkansas, became the “comeback kid” by beating expectations here in 1992. And little-known Georgia peanut farmer, Jimmy Carterhe would go on to claim the presidency after winning the 1976 state Democratic primary.

But this year, New Hampshire’s premier tradition may be little more than a fairy tale, as the presidential field overlooks much of the Granite State.

Democratic officials, who have rallied behind the president Joe Biden, have already decided to overlook New Hampshire in favor of South Carolina. And the tight Republican field is focusing its money, time and attention on Iowa, betting big that the Midwestern state’s religious conservatives will likely help them stop the former president. Donald Trump’s march toward the GOP nomination.

This weekend alone, no fewer than eight Republican White House hopefuls are descending on Iowa for the state’s annual Faith and Freedom Coalition meeting. It is the third multi-candidate meeting in the state in two months, while New Hampshire has not hosted one.

The switch to Iowa, which hosts the opening of the nation presidential caucuses on January 15 Just before the first primary in the nation in New Hampshire, it began in recent years as the national GOP moved to the right. But as New Hampshire’s prominence fades further in 2024, it’s unclear whether there will be enough oxygen or opportunity for anyone to emerge as a serious challenger to Trump in the state best known for political upheaval.

The former governor of New Jersey. Chris Christie, the most aggressively anti-Trump Republican in the race, is the only GOP White House candidate to have campaigned in New Hampshire since Monday. He is spending the vast majority of his time in the Granite State, and to a lesser degree in South Carolina.

“There are a lot of people who compete in Iowa, hard, and not as many people who compete hard in New Hampshire,” Christie said in an interview. “I think it’s a mistake and I think I’ll benefit from it.”

He acknowledged Trump’s strength among the Republican base, but suggested the former president ultimately cannot build the broad coalition needed to defeat Biden next November.

“If the nominee is Donald Trump, we’re going to lose the general election. And I think that’s tragic for the country and for our party, but I think it’s completely avoidable,” Christie said. “But if it’s going to start, it’s going to start here.”

In fact, New Hampshire Republican officials have been more willing than most to speak out against Trump.

Republican governor. Chris Sununu has come out strongly against Trump and is working to boost his rivals. Former state GOP chair Jennifer Horn is a fierce critic of Trump. And former New Hampshire Republican National Committeeman Steve Duprey endorsed Biden over Trump in 2020.

In an interview, Sununu conceded that Trump dominates the race, but insisted that most Republican primary voters remain open to someone else.

“People are clearly looking for an alternative,” Sununu said. “There’s a lot of opportunity for that alternative, I’m not saying it’s more moderate, I think it’s just seeing a new generation of conservative leadership.”

The evolving dynamic between Iowa and New Hampshire underscores a growing tension within a Republican Party that ultimately must appeal to both its hardline conservative base and moderates and independents who play an outsized role in the general elections. Iowa’s presidential caucuses tend to feature the most conservative Republican voters, especially evangelical Christians. New Hampshire, however, hosts an “open” primary election that allows voters to participate regardless of party affiliation.

Marc Colcombe, a 63-year-old Republican voter from Hillsborough, New Hampshire, said he’s looking for a presidential candidate who “understands that everybody has something good to bring to the table and fosters those relationships and brings everybody together.”

Colcombe, a former Trump supporter, says he is now deeply concerned that no one appears to be emerging as a viable alternative to the divisive former president. He shared his fears during a Christie appearance at a local brewery this week that could have attracted as many members of the press as voters.

“You have to put your ego aside and do what’s right,” Colcombe said. “Trump can’t do that because his ego rules everything he does.”

And while there is real resistance to Trump in New Hampshire, his rivals are devoting most of their time and money to Iowa for the foreseeable future.

Republican presidential candidates and their allies have booked nearly $30 million in television, radio and online advertising in Iowa, compared with $19 million in New Hampshire during the period beginning Sunday through the primary primary campaign, according to an AP analysis of AdImpact data. The spending disparity has been consistent since Trump launched his campaign last fall. As of Friday, Republican candidates and their allies had already spent $38 million on advertising in Iowa, compared with less than $23 million in New Hampshire.

Meanwhile, Christie had New Hampshire to himself this week. During the same seven-day period, eight GOP candidates made at least 32 separate appearances in Iowa.

former vice president mike pence appeared at more than a dozen public events this week in Iowa. Conservative businessman Vivek Ramaswamy made three stops in Iowa on Thursday alone. Both of us Nikki Haleythe former ambassador to the United Nations, and the senator from South Carolina. Tim Scott they were set to make at least three stops in Iowa over the weekend. Governor of Florida. Ron DeSantis he was scheduled to appear there at least twice.

There are exceptions to the trend.

Haley, who may be more popular with the establishment wing of her party than her base, has split her time evenly between New Hampshire and Iowa.

He is in the midst of his 10th trip to Iowa covering 44 campaign events, according to spokeswoman Nachama Soloveichik. Haley has hosted 49 other events in New Hampshire during nine separate trips, though a 10th is scheduled for next week.

“Our team is committed to both Iowa and New Hampshire because Nikki is campaigning for every vote,” Soloveichik said. “No One Will Top Nikki Haley.”

DeSantis, who is being touted as Trump’s primary challenger, has increasingly focused on Iowa as he battles for momentum. After this weekend, the Florida governor will have made 23 appearances in New Hampshire, compared to 70 in Iowa, according to spokesman Andrew Romeo. He said DeSantis is not ignoring New Hampshire, having attended a Fourth of July celebration and touted his economic policy there.

For Ramaswamy, battling DeSantis for second place in the primary polls, Wednesday night’s rally in Davenport marked his 100th event in Iowa, spokeswoman Tricia McLaughlin said. He has organized 65 events in New Hampshire, including two last Sunday.

Despite the Iowa bias, McLaughlin noted that Ramaswamy has multiple county chairs for each county and nearly 50 township chairs throughout New Hampshire.

Veteran New Hampshire Republican strategist Mike Dennehy noted that the shift toward Iowa, which began in the last election, coincides with the GOP’s shift to the right.

“For better or for worse, the presidential candidates are more conservative than in years past. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure George W. Bush fits into that field,” said Dennehy, highlighting the party’s political challenge in next year’s general election. “Republicans need to win over moderate to center-right Republicans who are not evangelicals or far-right conservative voters. … New Hampshire has a critical role to play toward that end.”

And despite New Hampshire’s historic role as a launching pad for underdogs, Dennehy is skeptical that there will be a happy ending for Trump’s challengers in 2024.

“I wouldn’t bet on anything at this point, other than Trump winning,” he said.


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