Haley's NH Supporters Surprised at Romney Backing
"It makes me wonder about her," one donor said.
SC Gov. Nikki Haley may be all-in for GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, but her supporters in New Hampshire are scratching their heads at her endorsement.
"I'm mystified," described Charles Gallagher, an attorney in Gilford, N.H.
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor who has a home in New Hampshire, doesn't need a lot of help in the Granite State — but he's bringing Haley with him over the weekend, in the final days before the Jan. 10 primary.
The move may be meant to cement some conservative support, but it appears Haley is raising eyebrows more than influencing voters.
Gallagher's $10 donation for Haley's primary race was one of many from out-of-state supporters who saw Haley at fundraisers, on television talk shows and the cover of Newsweek.
And she's still raising money outside of South Carolina. In the third quarter of 2011, Haley reportedly raised $223,000. More than half, $140,000, came from outside of the state.
"I have viewed her as a conservative and an anti-progressive," Gallagher said. "I know who Mitt Romney is. I know what Mitt Romney is. He is not a conservative — his track record shows that."
Gallagher said Thursday that he didn't know who he would support with just five days left, but Haley is not going to be able to change his mind about Romney.
"It makes me wonder why she thinks she needs to do this," he said. "Maybe she thinks that's the pragmatic choice."
Jane Lane, a Romney supporter from Keene, N.H., who sent Haley $45 in the run-up to the 2010 general election, didn't see Haley's endorsement coming, either.
"I was surprised," said Lane, a member of the National Federation of Republican Women. "In my association with Republican women in South Carolina, I always got a lukewarm response regarding Mitt Romney."
Unlike Gallagher, Lane welcomed the news and agrees with Haley that Romney's experience is key.
"He's got the business background," she said. "Particularly, his experience turning the Winter Olympics around."
But the endorsement has raised questions among Tea Party members and other GOP conservatives who have serious problems with Romney's record, like Massachusetts healthcare reform that was a model for national healthcare reform.
"Romneycare is a deal-breaker," said Jennifer Cyr, a Rochester Republican who will be voting absentee for Rick Perry.
Cyr sent a $17.76 check to Haley in her 2010 campaign. "I like her, I liked her conservative views," Cyr said of Haley. "But I can't stand Mitt Romney. He is not a conservative."
Haley's visit may also lay the groundwork for her own shot at national office, possibly in 2016 or 2020. Lane noted that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is also campaigning for Romney in these final days.
"Every time you see out-of-state politicians, you think, 'What do they have on their mind?'" said Lane.
But Haley may have hurt her image among the conservative voters she'll want in her corner for a presidential run and she may regret working so hard for Romney.
"He's in the mud and will always be in the mud," Cyr said. "It makes me wonder about her."