OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
CNN anchor Chris Wallace criticized Republican presidential candidates Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley on Wednesday for competing to be the second-place finishers behind former President Donald Trump in the 2024 Republican primary.
On CNN NewsNight, host Abby Phillip noted, “We are in this final countdown now to Iowa, and Trump is, as you said, the clear frontrunner. Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis are battling it out for second place, but they are now turning from attacking each other to saying that they are the ones who are gonna take on the former president.”
Wallace responded, “It’s awfully late in the game. I mean, how many months has this campaign been going on? You know, you hear a little thing from DeSantis about, ‘Well he can’t win’ or ‘Trump didn’t keep all his promises as president,’ and from Nikki Haley about chaos. I mean, let’s put this in perspective. No Republican has ever won a contested race in the Iowa caucuses by more than 12 points.”
“Right now, Donald Trump leads both Haley and DeSantis by more than 30 points. So it seems awfully late for them to come to this recognition. But you know, I know one of them wants to be second, the other third. If you finish second but 30 or 32 points behind the frontrunner, you’re a loser. You’re not the second-place finisher, you’re the first loser,” Wallace added.
“Yeah, there’s no participation trophy here for these guys,” replied Phillip.
Wallace concluded, “I just think it’s so late now. I mean, we’re less than two weeks before the caucuses.”
RealClearPolitics’ poll average shows that Trump is the dominant frontrunner in the Republican primary, with a commanding lead of 62.7%. Haley follows at 11%, while DeSantis trails closely behind at 10.9%.
In Iowa, Trump continues to hold a significant lead of over 30 percentage points, with a support of 51.3%, compared to DeSantis at 18.6% and Haley at 16.1%.
‘You’re a Loser’: Chris Wallace Dumps on DeSantis and Haley for Fighting Over Second Place in GOP Primary https://t.co/P4Sz1gJ0OP
— #TuckFrump (@realTuckFrumper) January 4, 2024
Less than two weeks before the caucuses, former President Donald Trump is getting ahead in Iowa, the first state where people will vote for president.
According to an average poll by Hill/Decision Desk HQ, Trump has 51.6 percent of the vote in Iowa. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is in second place with 18 percent, and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is in third place with 17.1 percent.
Trump’s status as the party’s de facto incumbent and Iowa’s deeply conservative GOP base make the state a good place for the former president to run. No matter what, his campaign isn’t taking any chances and is going to events all over the state, with and without him.
He lost Iowa in the 2016 presidential caucuses, which makes this year’s event even more important for him as he tries to get the nomination as quickly as possible.
“Trump wants it to be the knockout blow,” said Republican strategist Jimmy Centers from Iowa. “Your campaign will do better if you can move on to the general instead of the vice presidential race as soon as possible.”
DeSantis has made Iowa a top priority, and Haley’s presence in the state was helped by the fact that the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity backed her. But Trump’s team has been quietly building its operation in Iowa for years and has seen signs of growing support.
Right down to the precinct captains, his campaign has made sure that everyone is ready for caucus night by planning a way to recruit people. For Trump’s precinct captains, their jobs include giving a three-minute speech praising the former president and reporting the results from their precincts.
Alex Latcham, who used to be the political director for the Iowa GOP, was hired by the campaign last year to be the early-voting state director.
“Their (2016) strategy was effectively to park a charter bus that was branded ‘Trump’ on high-visibility corridors and see who just walked up to the bus,” Centers said. “That is not at all what their strategy is (now). It is a traditional caucus strategy.”
“It’s truly second-to-none here relative to the other candidates and campaigns. It’s not close,” he said.