Ahead of New Hampshire primary, Gov. Phil Scott endorses Nikki Haley for president

Phil Scott (left) and Nikki Haley. (Photos by Mike Dougherty/VTDigger and the Department of State via Wikimedia Commons)

Phil Scott (left) and Nikki Haley. (Photos by Mike Dougherty/VTDigger and the Department of State via Wikimedia Commons)

By SARAH MEARHOFF

VtDigger

Published: 01-22-2024 9:39 AM

In a rare step into presidential politics, Gov. Phil Scott on Friday endorsed fellow Republican Nikki Haley for the GOP nomination. 

The Vermont governor’s endorsement of the former South Carolina governor was, as much as anything, a rebuke of yet another Republican in the race: former President Donald Trump. 

Ahead of New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary on Tuesday, Scott urged Vermont’s neighbors to the east to oppose Trump. 

“America has a decision to make, and our friends and neighbors in New Hampshire have an opportunity to showcase their deep-rooted independent streak,” Scott said in a press release issued by his campaign Friday afternoon. “After years of controversy, violent rhetoric and growing polarization, the very last thing we need is four more years of Donald Trump.”

Scott has been a vocal critic of Trump over the years, drawing national attention for casting a ballot for Democratic President Joe Biden in 2020. In 2016, Scott said he wrote in former Vermont governor Jim Douglas for president, rather than vote for Trump. But until Friday, he had abstained from offering any hard-and-fast endorsements in the 2024 Republican presidential primary.

Scott’s endorsement of Haley, who served as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, came soon after she came in third in the Iowa caucuses this week — behind Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Nevertheless, Scott said in his statement, the Republican primary “is now a two-person race.”

“Governor Haley is our only chance to ensure America has the choice it deserves in November,” Scott wrote.

“It is my sincere hope that the good people of New Hampshire will send a clear message,” Scott continued. “This is not the time for Republicans or independents to sit it out. It’s time to move our country forward.”

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Vermont Democratic Party executive director Jim Dandeneau was quick to criticize Scott’s decision Friday afternoon. 

“To swoop in and endorse Donald Trump’s former UN Ambassador in some vain attempt at salvaging something useful from the GOP is crass opportunism and no one should fall for it,” Dandeneau said in a statement.