January 19 - 2024 campaign updates

By Shania Shelton and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 2227 GMT (0627 HKT) January 22, 2024
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9:23 p.m. ET, January 19, 2024

Tim Scott endorses Trump for president at New Hampshire campaign event

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott speaks at a campaign rally for former President Donald Trump in Concord, New Hampshire, on Friday.
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott speaks at a campaign rally for former President Donald Trump in Concord, New Hampshire, on Friday. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former GOP presidential candidate and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott endorsed former President Donald Trump on Friday in New Hampshire.

“We need a president who will close our southern border today. We need Donald Trump,” Scott said during an appearance on stage with the former president at a campaign event in Concord.
“We need a president who will unite our country. We need Donald Trump. We need a president who will protect your Social Security and my mama’s Social Security. We need Donald Trump," he said.

The endorsement is a blow of sorts to his fellow South Carolinian Nikki Haley, who as governor appointed him to his Senate seat in 2012, and another sign of Trump’s commanding presence on top of the party.

While introducing Scott to the stage, Trump said the senator gave him his endorsement two days ago.

The decision to wait to roll out his endorsement publicly emphasizes how significant the Trump campaign views his support, and the desire to play up the endorsement with as much fanfare as possible in the final days before the New Hampshire primary.

8:43 p.m. ET, January 19, 2024

Haley called Scott in recent days about his endorsement, source says

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley called Sen. Tim Scott in recent days to seek his endorsement in the 2024 race, a source familiar with the call confirms to CNN.  

People who know them both weren't surprised by his decision to ultimately endorse former President Donald Trump, but the timing of his endorsement — four days before the New Hampshire primary — was noted in both of their circles, given Trump has been concerned about Haley's standing in the state.

CNN previously reported that Trump had been in talks with Scott behind the scenes about winning his endorsement. 

8:34 p.m. ET, January 19, 2024

Haley highlights new poll showing Trump lagging Biden in hypothetical matchup in New Hampshire

From CNN's Ebony Davis

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign event in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Friday.
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign event in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Friday. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley on Friday took the opportunity to highlight a new Marist College poll of New Hampshire that shows President Joe Biden leading former President Donald Trump among the state's registered voters in a hypothetical November matchup, 52% to 45%, with 3% undecided.

“We can’t lose again in November,” the former South Carolina govenor said during a campaign. 

Notably, the poll finds no clear leader in a hypothetical contest between Biden and Haley, with Haley taking 47% and Biden 44%, and another 9% undecided.

Haley continued by pitching her electability argument to attendees, again pointing to a Wall Street Journal poll from December that showed her leading by 17 points in a head-to-head matchup with Biden.

“Don’t you want a leader that goes forward and holds everyone accountable regardless of party? Don’t you want a leader that goes forward where it’s not about deciding who’s good and who’s bad and who’s right and who’s wrong? That’s what we’re focused on,” she said.

Haley ended her day on the trail with a rally in Manchester, again disputing claims from Trump’s recent attacks.

“What I've seen is through these temper tantrums, Donald Trump is telling a whole lot of lies. But if he's going to lie about me, I'm going to tell the truth about him,” she said.

7:15 p.m. ET, January 19, 2024

New Hampshire governor responds to Scott's reported Trump endorsement: "Nobody cares"

From CNN's Ebony Davis

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu on Friday responded to reports that Sen. Tim Scott is expected to endorse former President Donald Trump, telling reporters “Nobody cares.”

"If anyone cared about Tim Scott, he’d still be running for president,” the Republican governor said with a smile in response to questions from reporters during a Nikki Haley campaign stop in Millford, New Hampshire.

Scott is expected to endorse Trump tonight at a rally in the state, a source familiar told CNN.

Sununu, who has become one of Haley’s most prominent surrogates leading up to the primary on Tuesday, also noted Haley’s pivotal role in Scott’s rise to the Senate.

“Tim Scott only has a job because of Nikki Haley, so let's start there,” Sununu told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in an interview on Friday.
“US senators don't like to be held accountable. They know Trump will completely fall and cater to them. Nikki Haley wants to hold this US Senate accountable. She has said they’re a bunch of overpaid, overprivileged, underperforming career politicians,” Sununu added. 

CNN's Aaron Pellish contributed reporting. This post was updated with Sununu's remarks to Wolf Blitzer.

6:17 p.m. ET, January 19, 2024

DeSantis denies his campaign is conceding New Hampshire and predicts Haley won't be competitive there

From CNN's David Wright

Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis speaks to supporters at LaBelle Winery on Wednesday in Rockingham County, New Hampshire.
Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis speaks to supporters at LaBelle Winery on Wednesday in Rockingham County, New Hampshire. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis denied Friday that his campaign is conceding New Hampshire, after limited advertising there and his decision to hold several campaign events in South Carolina, which holds its primary weeks after the Granite State.

“We were here the day after the primary, or the caucus in Iowa, and people were actually reporting that I was skipping it when I’m literally here, doing events, just because I did a stopover in South Carolina,” DeSantis said during an interview with Fox News on Friday. 

DeSantis said he thinks former President Donald Trump will win New Hampshire and argued that former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will not be competitive in next week’s contest. He went on to defend his campaign’s performance in Iowa as a rationale to continue his bid, despite Trump’s dominance. 

DeSantis also dismissed concerns that he should have waited to run for president in 2028, saying that he would have regretted not challenging the former president. 

“If I had been sitting on the sidelines, and Republicans end up losing in 2024, people then would have said: Oh well, you had the opportunity to do something, and you didn’t," he said.

Asked about his relationship with Trump, and whether he still intended to support the former president if he wins the GOP nomination, DeSantis said that he would, though he also criticized “some in the party that have made their entire political persona around just kissing Trump’s ring.” 

5:37 p.m. ET, January 19, 2024

Trump is expected back in court for Carroll defamation case in New York on Monday

From CNN's Kristen Holmes

Former President Donald Trump and E. Jean Carroll attend jury selection at Manhattan Federal Court in New York on Tuesday in this courtroom sketch. 
Former President Donald Trump and E. Jean Carroll attend jury selection at Manhattan Federal Court in New York on Tuesday in this courtroom sketch.  Jane Rosenberg/Reuters

Former President Donald Trump is expected back in court in New York on Monday for the E. Jean Carroll defamation case, according to two sources familiar with his plans.

It was not immediately clear whether or not he will testify. 

Trump attended two days of the civil trial this week. After attending court on Monday, he will have a rally in New Hampshire ahead of the Tuesday primary.

The trial will determine how much, if any, damages the former president must pay to Carroll for his 2019 defamatory statements about Carroll’s sexual assault allegations. In a separate trial last year, a civil jury found Trump sexually assaulted Carroll and defamed her – and Judge Lewis Kaplan said that the verdict would carry over to this defamation trial.

5:36 p.m. ET, January 19, 2024

Pence's former chief of staff pens op-ed endorsing Trump

From CNN's Daniel Strauss

Nick Ayers stands outside a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, in 2017.
Nick Ayers stands outside a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, in 2017. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A former chief of staff to former Vice President Mike Pence urged Republicans to rally behind former President Donald Trump in the 2024 Republican primary for president. 

Nick Ayers, who served as Pence’s chief of staff from 2017 to 2019, wrote an op-ed for the Daily Caller, arguing that both Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Gov. Nikki Haley should drop out of the primary and endorse the former president, as was done by entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy

Ayers, in the op-ed, portrays Trump as a successful president who was the victim of sham investigations and an onslaught of attacks from liberals, major government institutions and the mainstream media.

Ayers starts begins saying Trump “will be remembered as the man who saved democracy, not subverted it.”

Ayers also alludes to the false conspiracy theory that the January 6 mob attack on the Capitol was actually “a case of massive federal entrapment once again designed to frame President Trump.” There is no evidence of that. 

The op-ed ends with Ayers arguing that for Republicans to “stand a chance – and I believe we have a good one – we must invest our limited resources into the general election and get behind the former president.”

5:20 p.m. ET, January 19, 2024

DeSantis maintains he sees a path to the GOP nomination

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis maintains that he sees a path to the GOP 2024 presidential nomination after coming in a distant second in the Iowa caucuses and abruptly shifting his presidential campaign to South Carolina, effectively retreating from New Hampshire ahead of next week’s primary in the Granite State. 

“As long as I’m in the hunt that tells me that I have, that I’m seeing a pathway. The minute I don’t then I’m not just going to do this for, you know, just for my health,” DeSantis told reporters in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Friday.

When asked what states he believed he could win, DeSantis said, “Look I’m not a political prognosticator.”

DeSantis noted he was the only GOP presidential candidate who committed to participating in two New Hampshire debates after former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Tuesday that she would not participate in any future debates unless former President Donald Trump also attended.

ABC News said it had canceled its debate after Haley and Trump failed to confirm they would attend. 

“We were supposed to be here last night, we were supposed to have a debate on WMUR. This has always been a tradition that you debate in New Hampshire prior to the first in the nation primary, and that didn't happen because I'm the only one that's willing to do it,” DeSantis said. 

3:42 p.m. ET, January 19, 2024

Haley says Trump's ramped-up attacks show he’s "clearly insecure"

From CNN's Ebony Davis

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks to reporters during a campaign event in Amherst, New Hampshire, on Friday.
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks to reporters during a campaign event in Amherst, New Hampshire, on Friday. Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley on Friday continued to intensify her criticism of former President Donald Trump ahead of the New Hampshire primary, telling reporters his recent digs at her signal he is “clearly insecure.”

“I’ll let people decide what he means by his attacks. What we know is — look — he's clearly insecure. If he goes and does these temper tantrums, if he's going and spending millions of dollars on TV, he's insecure. He knows that something's wrong. I don't sit there and worry about whether it's personal or what he means by it,” Haley said during a stop in Amherst.

Haley, who has repeatedly called for Trump to participate in GOP debates, explained why she thinks he won’t confront her head-to-head.

“I think the reason that he gets behind a screen and hits me is because he doesn't want to get on a debate stage. He knows I know him very well. He knows I know what his lies are. He knows that. I know that when he says something, I know why he's saying it,” she said.

“I know when he's insecure. I know when he mouths off because he has nothing else to say he's been doing all of that. So why would he want to get on a debate stage with me?” she asked.