Sens. Lisa Murkowski And Susan Collins Back Nikki Haley In GOP Presidential Race

WASHINGTON ― Nikki Haley got her first Senate endorsement on Friday from Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski, a vocal critic of former President Donald Trump.

“America needs someone with the right values, vigor, and judgment to serve as our next President — and in this race, there is no one better than her,” Murkowski said in a statement ahead of the Alaska GOP primary on Tuesday.

“Nikki will be a strong leader and uphold the ideals of the Republican Party while serving as a President for all Americans,” the senator added.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) swiftly followed, telling the Bangor Daily News that she considered Haley to be “extremely well-qualified.”

“She has the energy, intellect, and temperament that we need to lead our country in these very tumultuous times,” Collins told the outlet.

Both Murkowski and Collins voted to convict Trump in his Jan. 6 impeachment trial.

Collins has offered only mild criticism of the former president in recent months, and spoke out against Maine’s decision to leave him off the GOP primary ballot.

Murkowski, meanwhile, has been sharply critical of the former president’s tone and conduct, saying recently that his rhetoric is “poisoning our country.

She and Collins are only Haley’s second and third congressional endorsements so far. Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) is the lone House member backing her 2024 campaign.

Republicans who oppose Trump are on an island in their party right now. Trump swept all four early GOP presidential nominating states and he has the backing of more than 130 Republicans in the House and over 30 Republicans in the Senate, despite facing 91 criminal charges across several jurisdictions.

Haley acknowledged earlier this week it’s “very possible” the GOP has fully become the party of Trump.

“What we’re doing is if 70% of Americans say they don’t want Donald Trump or Joe Biden, we are giving them an option,” the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said on CNN.

This week’s announcement by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that he will step down as his party’s leader in the Senate after nearly two decades in the post also underscored the GOP’s stunning transformation from the traditional conservatism of Ronald Reagan to Trump’s brand of populist isolationism.

His replacement is likely to be far more closely aligned with Trump even if he loses the 2024 presidential election.