Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley took the stage at the American Legion in Rochester, N.H., to cheers from supporters just hours after a newly-released  Saint Anselm College poll found she’s picked up seven points within roughly a week.

However, that same poll showed GOP frontrunner Donald Trump also picked up seven points, making it a 52-38 percent race and leaving Trump’s steady 14-percent lead intact. It was the second poll released Wednesday in which Trump had the support of more than half of likely GOP primary voters, and it comes on the heels of her third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, behind Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

A new Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll gave Trump 50 percent of the GOP primary vote to Haley’s 34 percent. DeSantis was in single digits in both polls.

Team Trump touted the new numbers.

“New Hampshire voters will reject Nikki Haley on Tuesday because she is a high tax, open borders, globalist who is funded by Democrat donors and will put America last,” said Trump campaign spokesperson Karoline Leavitt.

Gov. Chris Sununu, who predicted earlier this month Haley would capture second place in Iowa and ride that momentum to a significant bump in the Granite State, was on hand in Rochester with Haley.

Sununu dismissed the latest polls as meaningless and also tried to put a positive spin on Haley’s performance in the Iowa caucuses.

“Iowa has three million people,” Sununu said. “You know how many votes Donald Trump got in Iowa? 56,000.”

Rather than look backward, Sununu told the crowd to focus on the future and get busy.


The crowd at a Nikki Haley town hall in Rochester, N.H. on January 17, 2024.

“Get out the vote. Talk to that weird uncle you only deal with on Christmas. Give him a call. I don’t pick the winner, and the media sure as hell doesn’t pick the winner.”

The night before, a triumphant Trump rolled into a packed Atkinson Country Club ballroom and declared the primary “over.” Haley, meanwhile, refused to participate in either of the two scheduled New Hampshire debates unless Trump was on stage with her.

Trump has declined every invitation to debate his GOP opponents.

At the Rochester event, where the Haley campaign said some 350 people turned out, Haley largely stuck to her standard stump speech. She didn’t take questions from on stage, but she did stay and take selfies (and some questions) from people in the crowd.

In her remarks, she only briefly touched on Trump, saying “I know [he] threw a temper tantrum about me last night.”

“I’m not going to talk about him personally,” she added. “I think politics has become too personal.”

That’s exactly what Steven Lesniak, a retired Dover firefighter, told NHJournal. Lesniak said he was the first person in line ahead of Haley’s rally and said he voted for Biden in 2020.

“I don’t think he (Trump) represents us well,” Lesniak said.

As for Biden, Lesniak said the current president “isn’t horrible” but “doesn’t exude leadership” and added he wants someone who “has their act together and can bring people together.”

For him, Haley is that person.

“She doesn’t do much name-calling; she stays composed, and that’s what I like about her because what I see on TV attracts me to her. When I see Trump, I cringe, especially every time he speaks.”

Carol Lutcza of Rockaway, N.J., was in New Hampshire visiting friends. They decided to see Haley in person. Lutcza said she “believes” in Haley.

“She seems like a real person, not some crazy person,” Lutcza added.

Asked about former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who bowed out of the running for the GOP nod last week, Lutcza said she’s glad he’s out and added that it was “past time to move on.”

“I think he was really taking away from everything,” she said. “I would love to see her (Haley) get the nomination.”