January 26 - 2024 campaign updates

By Aditi Sangal, Shania Shelton and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 2314 GMT (0714 HKT) January 26, 2024
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6:00 p.m. ET, January 26, 2024

Biden campaign manager meets with some Arab American leaders in Michigan — but others decline invitation

From CNN's Arlette Saenz, Betsy Klein and Dianne Gallagher

President Joe Biden's campaign manager, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, is in Michigan for meetings with local Arab American leaders as the campaign confronts growing discontent with President Joe Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Chavez Rodriguez attended two meetings with local Arab and Palestinian American leaders Friday morning, a source familiar told CNN, but multiple other local leaders declined invitations to meet with Biden's team.

That underscores a persistent reality as the president shifts into general election mode, and one that will be especially critical in battleground Michigan: Democrats are deeply divided on Biden’s support for Israel as it wages war with Hamas, which could threaten his 2024 coalition.

Assad Turfe, a deputy Wayne County executive, said he had been working toward assembling a meeting of Arab American and Muslim community members to meet with the campaign, but they ultimately decided not to move forward.

"There’s 30,000 dead people. 50% of the population is living in hunger. There’s no functioning hospitals and ultimately there’s been 111 days to able to call for a ceasefire," he said of the situation in Gaza. “At the end of the day, people look at us as leaders, and we’ve got to make a leadership decision." According to the Hamas-run health ministry, more than 26,000 people have been killed in Gaza since October 7.

Osama Siblani, a Dearborn community leader and publisher of the Arab American News, was among those who met with Chavez Rodriguez, casting the 90-minute conversation as “direct and frank.”

“I looked her in the eyes and told her how I and my community feel about Biden,” said Siblani, who is Lebanese American.

5:56 p.m. ET, January 26, 2024

Haley super PAC begins booking airtime in South Carolina

From CNN's David Wright

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks a campaign rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday.
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks a campaign rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday. Allison Joyce/Getty Images

SFA Fund, the main super PAC supporting Nikki Haley's presidential campaign, has begun booking airtime in South Carolina — another signal that the fight for the GOP presidential nomination could continue.

SFA Fund began booking TV airtime Friday for over the next week in the Greenville, Myrtle Beach and Charlotte media markets, according to AdImpact data.

So far, the group has spent just about $6,700, but in an earlier memo the group said it planned to spend $1 million on its initial South Carolina ad buy. Expect more spending to come.

Haley's campaign, meanwhile, says it will spend up to $4 million on its first major ad buy in the state. Another outside group backing her, Americans For Prosperity Action, has already spent more than $3 million advertising there in support of Haley.

The scope of the initial pro-Haley advertising wave is small compared to the more than $200 million spent by Republican campaigns and outside groups combined in Iowa and New Hampshire.

But the fact Haley and her allies are committing millions in precious campaign resources to new advertising campaigns in South Carolina stretching into next month signals she plans to press on in the primary race against Trump. 

3:34 p.m. ET, January 26, 2024

Trump will meet with Teamsters union leaders and members next week as he pushes for their support

From CNN's Kristen Holmes

Former President Donald Trump will meet with Teamsters labor union members and leadership next Wednesday for a “Rank and File Presidential Round Table” in Washington, DC.

President Joe Biden was also invited to speak the same day, according to a news release on the Teamsters website.

Trump also met with the head of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union earlier this month at his Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago.

Why it matters: Trump has made appealing to union voters — a traditionally Democratic voting bloc — a key part of his political strategy, targeting disaffected voters in parts of the Midwest who believe the Democrats have left them behind.

A key endorsement already went to Biden: The United Auto Workers union endorsed Biden this week. While Biden won the endorsement of the UAW in the 2020 campaign, many rank-and-file members supported Trump.

Trump had traveled to Michigan during the autoworkers strike as he made a play for their support.

2:10 p.m. ET, January 26, 2024

Analysis: We could be headed for the longest general election ever

Analysis by CNN’s Harry Enten

Despite Nikki Haley staying in the GOP primary race, a lot of people want to move on to the general election. Those include President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, as well as Republican National Committeeman David Bossie, who wrote up and then withdrew a resolution to declare Trump the presumptive Republican nominee.

The idea that we’d already be entering the general election campaign at this point struck me as ridiculously early. That’s why I decided to look it up and see if there was anything comparable to this year in the history books. 

It turns out, there isn’t.

The earliest a competitive primary has ended in the modern era was March 4 for the Republicans in 2008. That year, the primary calendar was moved up significantly, with Super Tuesday occurring in early February. John McCain accumulated the necessary delegates to win the GOP nomination by March 4, and his main rival at the time, Mike Huckabee, dropped out. 

The earliest both the Democratic and Republican sides had presumptive nominees was March 9 in 2000.

Both 2008 and 2000 were anomalies: On average, it is late April by the time all but one candidate on each side has dropped out, or that it’s mathematically clear who the Democratic and Republican nominees will be.

We’re currently three months from that point in this cycle — and we’d still be historically early if Haley drops out after the South Carolina primary on February 24.

12:54 p.m. ET, January 26, 2024

Colorado voters tell the Supreme Court January 6 violence should keep Trump off the ballot

From CNN's Joan Biskupic, Devan Cole and Marshall Cohen

Police clear the US Capitol with tear gas as Donald Trump supporters gather outside on January 6, 2021.
Police clear the US Capitol with tear gas as Donald Trump supporters gather outside on January 6, 2021. Stephanie Keith/Reuters

The Colorado voters trying to disqualify Donald Trump from the state ballot told the Supreme Court on Friday that the violence the former president provoked on January 6, 2021, qualifies as an insurrection under the terms of the Constitution and bars him from holding future office.

Lawyers for the group of voters filed their brief several days before their deadline of next week, seeking to forcefully respond to Trump’s legal arguments that the President is excluded from the disputed section of the 14th Amendment.

“The most violent attack on our nation’s Capitol since the War of 1812 — an attack which obstructed the peaceful transfer of presidential power for the first time in American history — meets any plausible definition of ‘insurrection against the Constitution,’” the challengers wrote.

Specifically responding to Trump’s leading argument in his brief filed last week, that the president is not an “officer” under the terms of the Constitution, the voters’ lawyers wrote, “Section 3 does not give a free pass to insurrectionist Presidents; they are ‘officers’ because they hold an ‘office.’ And states’ broad authority to regulate presidential elections allows them to exclude constitutionally ineligible candidates from the ballot.”

Section 3 bars certain elected officials, including an “officer of the United States,” from holding “any office” in the future if they have “engaged in insurrection” or aided a rebellion.

Read more about the case here.

12:21 p.m. ET, January 26, 2024

Haley will make a big fundraising push next week

From CNN's Kylie Atwood and Fredreka Schouten 

Nikki Haley buttons sit on a table at a campaign event in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday.
Nikki Haley buttons sit on a table at a campaign event in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday. Sean Rayford/AP

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley is looking ahead to a big week of fundraising as she remains determined to continue competing with former President Donald Trump for the GOP nomination.

Beginning Monday, the former South Carolina governor has multiple fundraisers scheduled in New York, and then she will head to Florida for fundraisers in Palm Beach and Miami on Wednesday. 

Over the course of the next three and a half weeks, Haley’s campaign has planned at least 13 fundraisers in five states: New York, Florida, California, South Carolina and Texas.

Her campaign has touted bringing in $2.6 million in donations since the polls closed in New Hampshire, but there are also real questions about her ability to keep donors on her side with questions about her campaign’s path ahead. 

Some big donors have said they no longer plan to back Haley’s campaign, others are privately worried about her endgame, and some groups are beginning to turn their focus to the Senate races as Trump’s nomination appears inevitable in their eyes. 

11:45 a.m. ET, January 26, 2024

Haley says she let RNC chair know she was "disappointed" about calls for her to drop out of race

From CNN's Ebony Davis

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks at a campaign event in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday.
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks at a campaign event in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday. Sean Rayford/AP

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley on Friday said she let Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel know that she was “disappointed” after her calls for Haley to drop out of the race and coalesce around former President Donald Trump.

“I let her know how disappointed I was. Let's look at the last 48 hours. First of all, you had election night, Trump gets on stage. He throws an absolute temper tantrum," Haley said.
"He goes and says that he is going to ban anyone from MAGA that donates to me. Think about that. That's a president who is supposed to serve every person in America and you’re deciding you're going to have a club and actually ban people from being in and out of your club?” she said.

“Then he goes and encourages the members of the RNC and tries to push them into saying that he is the nominee in the race. They got so much pushback that he had to backtrack from it. He’s totally unhinged,” she continued.

Haley was pushed further by Fox News Host Dana Perino on if she’s certain that it was Trump who asked for the draft resolution that would have formally declared him the Republican Party’s 2024 presumptive nominee. Though Trump initially approved going forward with the resolution, it was withdrawn Thursday amid pushback from the former president. 

“It was his people that pushed it forward. I know how much he has pushed on Ronna. Ronna has made that very clear that he was pushing her to stop debates all this time. He pushes them to do things. I think they got some major blowback and that’s why he had to walk it back. Look, you can't bully your way through this process,” Haley said.

11:36 a.m. ET, January 26, 2024

GOP donors opposed to Trump candidacy move to focus their efforts on Congress

From CNN's Fredreka Schouten and Alayna Treene

Former President Donald Trump gestures during his election night watch party in Nashua, New Hampshire, on Tuesday.
Former President Donald Trump gestures during his election night watch party in Nashua, New Hampshire, on Tuesday. Mike Segar/Reuters

As former President Donald Trump marches closer to the Republican presidential nomination, some conservative outside groups and donors opposed to his candidacy say they now must redouble their efforts to win the Senate in November.

And some fret that with Trump at the top of the ticket – a scenario growing more likely with his decisive back-to-back victories in Iowa and New Hampshire – the task of holding the House and flipping the Senate will grow harder, even in a year when the Senate electoral map strongly favors the GOP.

“If Trump ultimately is the nominee, the threat of a repeat of the last three elections and a Democrat sweep increases dramatically – making the Senate and the House that much more important,” said Bill Riggs, a spokesman for Americans for Prosperity Action.

The group, aligned with billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, has spent millions promoting former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as the best GOP candidate to defeat Trump in the primary, since endorsing her in late November. AFP Action leaders, who will discuss their political plans with the network’s donors at a Southern California gathering this weekend, say they continue to support Haley – despite her bruising loss Tuesday in New Hampshire and the “steeper road” she faces in her home state. Polls show Trump with a big lead in the Palmetto State’s February 24 primary.

But the Koch officials say the group’s biggest 2024 investment will come in Senate contests, with a prime focus on flipping Democratic-held seats in six states: Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It’s already endorsed in three of those primaries with more announcements to come.

Read more on their efforts here.

9:48 a.m. ET, January 26, 2024

Haley raises $2.6 million in 48 hours after Trump's threat to donors, campaign says

From CNN's Ebony Davis and Kylie Atwood

Nikki Haley holds a rally on January 24, in North Charleston, South Carolina.
Nikki Haley holds a rally on January 24, in North Charleston, South Carolina. Allison Joyce/Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley’s campaign raised $2.6 million since New Hampshire polls closed on Tuesday, her campaign said Thursday night.

That includes $1.2 million raised from small-dollar and digital donations after Donald Trump’s pledge to “permanently bar” any individual who contributed to her campaign. 

Haley and her campaign have routinely touted fundraising totals to show momentum despite the growing opposition to Haley’s campaign among elected GOP officials.  

On Wednesday night, Trump said in a Truth Social post that he would not accept donations from anyone who contributed to Haley’s campaign.