An anonymous caller tried to get Nikki Haley’s campaign rally in Keene shut down Saturday, telling the city’s fire department her crowd at the Keene Country Club was over capacity.
Fire Chief Donald Farquhar told NHJournal the caller complained too many people showed up Saturday morning to see Haley as she hopes to win an upset victory over former President Donald Trump in the state’s First in the Nation GOP presidential primary.
The ballroom area at the Keene Country Club lists a maximum capacity of 350 people. Farquhar said the space was well over capacity. He worked with Haley’s staff to keep exits clear, and he and other fire department staffers conducted a patrol during the event. Farquhar praised Haley’s team for its response to make sure the event could continue safely.
“Her staff was on point,” Farquhar said.
With Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) polling in the single digits, Haley has emerged as Trump’s only viable competitor in the Granite State primary. In recent days, Trump has directed his ire, and that of his legion of MAGA fans, at her. About a dozen Trump supporters demonstrated on the road outside country club property.
There’s no evidence the call to the fire department came from Trump’s campaign or its supporters.
Even before the call came in, Haley’s campaign appeared on alert for possible mischief at the event. Her staff scrutinized press credentials and directed attendees to an overflow area.
As for the candidate, Haley played it safe during her appearance. After an introduction from Keene Mayor George Hansel, she stuck to her stump speech and did not take questions from the audience.
The crowd was friendly and positive toward Haley, if not showing the same tent-revival enthusiasm seen at Trump events.
Haley didn’t shy away from criticizing Trump. While she voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020, Haley said he is too old now for the job, as is current President Joe Biden.
“Do we really want to go into this election with two fellas who are gonna be in their 80s?” Haley asked.
She also referenced a moment from Trump’s rally in Concord Friday when, while discussing the lack of security on Capitol Hill the day of the January 6, 2021 riots, he confused Haley with former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
“You know, Nikki Haley, Nikki Haley, Nikki Haley, you know they– do you know they destroyed all of the information and all of the evidence?” Trump said. “Everything. Deleted and destroyed all of it. All of it because of, lots of things. Like, Nikki Haley is in charge of security. We offered her 10,000 people.”
Haley said Trump’s flub is another sign Trump is not fit for the job.
“They’re saying he got confused,” Haley said. “I’m not saying anything derogatory, but when you’re dealing with the pressures of the presidency, we can’t have someone else where we’re [questioning] whether they are mentally fit.”
Trump’s expressions of admiration for despots like Chinese President Xi Jinping, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, and Russian President Vladimir Putin show he’s not the leader America needs, she said.
“Donald Trump has got to stop praising these dictators,” Haley said. “I had to sit down and have a conversation with him because he was having too much of a ‘bromance’ with Putin.”
Trump consistently leads all comers in primary polls, but Haley has been gaining ground. Part of her pitch in the Granite State is her electability in a race against Biden. Polls consistently show her beating Biden by as much as 17 points, while Trump runs neck and neck with the current president.
Even with Biden clearly in decline, Trump is not a sure bet to beat him in November, she said.
“Here’s something that should send a chill up your spine: President Kamala Harris,” Haley said.
Keene Mayor George Hansel told the crowd they would regret not voting for Haley on Tuesday, thereby handing the nomination to Trump. It’s time for the country to move past Trump and his chaos, Hansel said.
“For the first time in a long time, you and I have the opportunity to vote for someone we believe in,” Hansel said.