Team Trump turned its political fire on Nikki Haley in response to the news of Gov. Chris Sununu’s endorsement, and it chose a topic that’s top of mind for Granite State Republicans.
“RINO Gov. Sununu had one redeeming quality: He adamantly opposed high taxes. That has now been tarnished by his endorsement of Nikki Haley, who time and time again raised taxes on working-class South Carolinians,” said Karoline Leavitt, spokeswoman for Make America Great Again Inc. “Haley’s long record of supporting tax hikes, including gas and sales taxes, punished the working class — and her tax and spend agenda — would be disastrous for Granite Staters.”
It is true Haley supported raising gasoline or sales taxes at different times during her career as a South Carolina state legislator and governor. However, each proposal was coupled with a tax cut, making it (as Haley called them at the time) a “tax swap.”
For example, in 2006, Haley voted for a one-cent sales tax hike in exchange for a property tax cut. According to The Greenville News, the result was “a measure that slashed property taxes for the state’s homeowners by roughly half.”
And in 2o15, then-Gov. Haley proposed raising the state’s gas tax by 10 cents in exchange for reducing the state’s income tax from 7 percent to 5 percent.
South Carolina lawmakers approved a measure in 2006 that slashed property taxes for the state’s homeowners by roughly half.
Given the relative lack of focus on tax issues in the GOP presidential primary, it was an interesting tack for Team MAGA. While voters frequently name the overall economy a top priority, the border, crime, and concerns about cultural issues are named more frequently than tax policy.
For his part, Trump rarely mentions Haley on the stump; when he does, he refers to her as “Birdbrain.”
During an edition of NHJournal’s Diner Table Economics last month, Haley said she supported a “middle-class tax cut.”
“We’re going to cut taxes on the middle class and simplify those [tax] brackets that’ll flush cash to be more in the pockets of middle-class Americans,” Haley said. “It’ll stimulate the economy. And then we’re going to make the small business tax cuts permanent. [Washington] made the corporate tax cuts permanent, but they made the small business tax cuts temporary.”
While New Hampshire Republicans are known for green-eyeshade conservatism and fiscal restraint, those issues have yet to interfere with the party’s support for Trump, who wasn’t shy about borrowing money and has declared any entitlement reforms off limits. Trump handily won the 2016 First in the Nation primary and has consistently led in the Granite State polls this year.
Trump currently holds a 27-point lead over Haley in New Hampshire in the RealClearPolitics average. More significantly, his support has been trending higher over the past four months, from an average of 41 percent to 46 percent, even as the campaign conflict has heated up.
“Sununu’s endorsement means nothing and does nothing for any candidate in this race,” Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung told Fox News. “The only endorsement in politics that matters is President Trump’s endorsement.”
Trump’s Granite State supporters say they also aren’t worried about Sununu’s endorsement, but they aren’t happy about it, either.
“Gov. Sununu has pissed off New Hampshire Republicans more times than we can count,” said Tom Murray of Windham. “He acts more like a Democrat than a Republican, so it makes sense he would endorse a liberal politician like Nikki Haley.”