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US primaries: Trump briefly tests light tour

US primaries: Trump briefly tests light tour

As of: January 21, 2024 4:15 am

After his clear victory in Iowa, Trump briefly adopted a conciliatory tone that made people sit up and take notice. But now he is back on the attack. Is Trump afraid of his inner-party rivalry more than he'll admit?

Even for Trump's detractors, the choice of words was refreshing: “I believe it's time for all of us to come together,” Trump said on the evening of his surprisingly clear election victory. Iowa. “We Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives want to come together!”

Some couldn't believe their ears even as Trump reached out to his more dangerous rivals: “I want to congratulate Ron and Nikki on having a great time together. They both did great.”

Same old man

It soon became clear that this was winning rhetoric, the compromise of someone who no longer had anything to fear. Trump, well aware that an Iowa victory did not seal his candidacy, quickly reverted to his old ways this week. Especially since the third-place finish from Iowa, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley doesn't want to go easy on him: She's announced she no longer wants to participate in any televised debates that don't feature Trump. The ABC and CNN networks canceled previously scheduled TV duels.

Like Obama

“A vote for Haley next Tuesday is a vote for Biden,” Trump said during a campaign rally in New Hampshire. Not only that: on social networks, Trump did what he had already tried with Barack Obama: he raised doubts about whether Haley would be allowed to run for president because of her immigrant background. Haley's parents, who immigrated from India, did not yet have US citizenship when their daughter was born on American soil in 1972. “I'm proud to be born in Bamberg, South Carolina,” Haley felt compelled to clarify.

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Trump also used Haley's Indian name Nimrata (misspelled Nimrata) in his disparaging post. Haley responded: “What I want to say about the insults: I know President Trump very well. He does it when he feels threatened and insecure.”

Anyway, sweet sound from election evening: it quickly faded.

“Sign of weakness”?

Other Trump critics in the Republican Party, such as the former governor of Maryland, found the change in tone less reassuring. “A sign of weakness,” said Larry Hogan on CNN. Trump knows how talented and passionate Haley is about the campaign.

Did Ron DeSantis do better in Iowa than the former governor of South Carolina? He demonstratively distanced himself from it: “Only Trump is responsible for his words and his behavior,” Florida's governor said. If two fight during the election campaign, DeSantis seems to believe, the third will be happy.

What makes Trump's challengers nervous, however, are the election nominations for Trump that are increasingly coming from his now-defunct rivals. After Vivek Ramasamy, Senator Tim Scott — like Haley of South Carolina — is now calling for Trump's election. The calculation that a united front against Trump could emerge as the field of candidates narrows does not seem to be paying off.

Sebastian Hesse, ARD Washington, tagesschau, January 20, 2024 7:48 pm