- As Nikki Haley has risen in polls, so has her viability among top political donors, per The Times.
- Some donors are describing Haley's candidacy as one that's creating enthusiasm among party leaders.
- GOP donor Eric Levine told The Times that Trump's air of inevitability has "peeled away completely."
For months, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley has been stumping across the country in hopes of convincing GOP primary voters — and top donors — that her presidential bid is best positioned to put the party back in the White House.
With less than two months before the Iowa caucuses, wavering donors, including many who've been hesitant to back former President Donald Trump, are increasingly getting behind Haley's campaign and pushing others to follow suit despite the tough odds against the ex-commander-in-chief, according to The New York Times.
Trump continues to dominate in both national and state polling among likely GOP primary voters, and he retains the support of statewide party political apparatuses across the country.
But Haley has impressed an array of business leaders — including JPMorgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon — with her policy knowledge, according to The Times.
Dimon, who this past summer told The Economist he'd exercise some caution with President Joe Biden's "Bidenomics" after reacting coolly to the social policy aspect of the administration's economic agenda, recently encouraged the former South Carolina governor to continue discussing ways to tackle complex issues, per The Times. In that same interview, Dimon also said he'd "worry" about Trump potentially retaking the White House in 2024.
Kenneth G. Langone, the billionaire cofounder of Home Depot, told The Times that he remained undecided in the GOP race but was "very impressed" by Haley.
"I think she's a viable candidate. I would certainly like her over Trump," Langone, who's donated to Haley's campaign, told the newspaper.
Despite the enduring grassroots enthusiasm for Trump, some Republican institutional leaders and financial backers remain wary of the former president, pointing to his conduct on January 6, 2021, his negative effect on many GOP candidates in past election cycles, and the need for a next-generation leader who can move the party past the tumultuous Trump years.
And while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had long been seen as the biggest threat to Trump's renomination given his national following and focus on conservative causes, the governor's polling struggles and inability to pin down the former president politically have made many GOP donors look to candidates like Haley in recent months.
Jonathan Bush, a cofounder of Athenahealth and the chief executive of startup Zus Health, told The Times that it was "invigorating to be truly excited by a candidate again."
Bush, a relative of former President George W. Bush, held an online fundraiser for Haley earlier this month. The healthcare technology executive had previously backed former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson's Libertarian presidential bid in 2016 and Biden's 2020 candidacy.
But he was taken by Haley's command of issues and what he told The Times was "an electric energy" surrounding her candidacy.
Top donors looking at the GOP contest are largely in a camp of either resigning themselves to Trump likely being the party's standard-bearer next year and cutting off funds to rivals — or those who think that an agile candidate has the potential to overtake the former president.
Eric Levine, a GOP donor who previously backed Sen. Tim Scott's onetime presidential campaign, will now cohost a fundraiser for Haley next month and told The Times that many people now believe that Trump's nomination "can be stopped."
"His aura of invincibility is just peeled away completely," Levine said, pointing to Haley's polling surge among GOP voters.