NEW YORK – A growing number of US business leaders are rallying behind former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley as the Republican Party’s presidential hopeful, seeing her as more stable than rival Donald Trump, and more favourable to business interests than incumbent Joe Biden.
“Even if you’re a very liberal Democrat, I urge you: help Nikki Haley too. Get a choice on the Republican side that might be better than Trump,” said Mr Jamie Dimon, who as head of JPMorgan Chase bank is often seen as one of the country’s most powerful CEOs.
For the last month or so, a growing list of entrepreneurs and business leaders have been lining up behind Trump’s former UN ambassador, stumping for her, swelling her campaign coffers or considering doing so as her standing in polls strengthens.
Among them are Mr Charles Koch, one of the biggest donors in US politics, and billionaire investor Stanley Druckenmiller.
In early December, during a fundraiser in a luxury apartment on the Upper West Side of New York, Ms Haley raked in more than $500,000 (S$670,000) in pledges from members of the city’s business elite.
“I think a lot of donors, including business people, were initially sitting on the sidelines, waiting to see how it would shake out, who could be left standing” after months of campaigning, said David Primo, a political science professor at Rochester University.
As of late October, Ms Haley was polling at less than 10 per cent for the Iowa caucuses, the first vote on the US political calendar, on Jan 15, 2024. Now she stands at nearly 18 per cent, almost on par with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has around 19 per cent.
Ms Haley was “impressive in the debates,” said Prof Primo, adding that “business leaders are concerned about the potential instability of another Trump presidency”.
“It seems that she will adhere to the guardrails much more than others,” said Daniel Kinderman, a professor at the University of Delaware.
“That is something that business leaders, I think, by and large, do appreciate. They do not like it when things get too crazy,” he said.
Ms Haley advocates tax cuts, a gradual return to balanced budgets, and raising the minimum retirement age.
“She is committed to fiscal discipline, and fiscal consolidation, and she’s concerned about the national debt,” said Professor Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute. “That’s a traditional Republican policy view.”
“She has experience as a governor of a state and was viewed as, generally speaking, friendly to business,” said Prof Primo.
“She knows how to interact with business leaders,” he added.