The powerful Koch donor network has officially endorsed its GOP candidate for president. It wasn’t Donald Trump, and it wasn’t Ron DeSantis. It was Nikki Haley. An odd pick for Koch World, she’s not anyone’s idea of a libertarian. She’s the most hawkish candidate in the field, for instance, although Koch World is, supposedly, non-interventionist. Yet it endorsed her for one main reason: More than anything, it wants to stop Trump and boost immigration. All other concerns pale next to these objectives, and Haley is Koch World’s best bet in the primary field. GOP donors still don’t get it, and so once more will receive a harsh lesson from the voters with whom they claim to share a party.
Americans For Prosperity Action, the main campaign subsidiary of what Murray Rothbard used to call the Kochtopus, promised to intervene in the Republican primary back in February, pledging it would support the most viable Republican not named Donald Trump. In its endorsement memo, AFP claimed it was weighing in on a presidential race for the very first time because the country desperately needs “to turn the page on the past. Donald Trump and Joe Biden will only further perpetuate the country’s downward spiral in politics.” The group claimed that Republicans and Democrats both field bad candidates who promote “extreme” policies that go against America’s core principles.
AFP’s memo says Haley—real name Nimrata Randhawa—is the best positioned to win based on polling, her “experience,” and her policy preferences. The Koch group claims that polls show the Punjabi Indian is the strongest candidate the GOP can run against Joe Biden, while also moving into second in key primary states in the Republican primary. AFP insists that a President Haley will champion Koch World’s core interests as president:
Nikki Haley has a long track record of empowering people with more freedom and opportunity and supporting policies that favor competition over control. As Governor, Haley’s work to expand education opportunities, improve access and lower costs in our health care system, and protect freedom and flexibility in our workforce shows she shares our belief that the solutions to our most pressing challenges lie in free people—not heavy-handed government. While we don’t agree with anyone on every issue, Nikki Haley, by far, offers the best opportunity to improve the lives of all Americans.
The group’s endorsement comes with a pledge of tens of millions of dollars and the support of AFP’s large volunteer network. It’s a major boost to Haley as she positions herself as the most viable alternative to Trump. Charles Koch sees her as the best bet [Koch Network Endorses Nikki Haley in Bid to Push G.O.P. Past Trump, by Maggie Haberman, Shane Goldmacher, and Jonathan Swan, The New York Times, November 28, 2023].
The endorsement struck hard against Ron DeSantis’ campaign. While DeSantis has positioned himself as a candidate opposed to the Koch brothers’ ideology, he depended on their support in past campaigns. DeSantis needed that money and volunteer base to have any chance of overcoming Trump’s huge lead in the polls.
Congratulations to Donald Trump on securing the Koch endorsement. Like clockwork, the pro-open borders, pro-jail break bill establishment is lining up behind a moderate who has no mathematical pathway of defeating the former president. Every dollar spent on Nikki Haley’s candidacy should be reported as an in-kind to the Trump campaign. No one has a stronger record of beating the establishment than Ron DeSantis, and this time will be no different.
Koch-Backed AFP Backs Nikki Haley for President in Massive Setback for Ron DeSantis, by Nick Gilbertson, Breitbart, November 28, 2023
Trump responded similarly Truth Social:
The Globalist Koch Fake “Network,” Americans for China Prosperity, who constantly admit that they did better in Business under President Trump than EVER BEFORE, have decided to back Nikki “Birdbrain” Haley over Ron DeSanctimonious, a minor hit for Ron. I was never in the running because I’m all about Making America, not the outside World, Great Again! These losers have fought me from 2016 to the present. They are bad for our Country, and so is a very weak and ineffective Birdbrain, who still says that “President Trump was a GREAT President, I will never run against him.” She’s down 50 Points, she better start running FAST!
( @realDonaldTrump - Truth Social )— Donald J. Trump 🇺🇸 TRUTH POSTS (@TruthTrumpPosts) November 29, 2023
( Donald J. Trump - Truth Post - Nov 29, 2023, 10:33 AM ET )
The Globalist Koch Fake “Network,” Americans for China Prosperity, who constantly admit that they did better in Business under President Trump than EVER BEFORE, have decided to back… pic.twitter.com/zjm863kp1c
This endorsement isn’t much of a problem for Trump. The latest RealClearPolitics average has him nearly 50 points ahead of his nearest primary opponent. RCP also shows him almost two points ahead of Biden. If anything, the endorsement helps the former president by dividing the anti-Trump field between Haley and DeSantis.
Trump is right that Charles and the late David Koch have never liked him. In 2016, they emphatically told the world that endorsing him “would compromise their values and they would never be able to hold any politician accountable” [Charles Koch Explains To Donors Why He Won't Support Trump, by Leigh Ann Caldwell, NBC, August 1, 2016]. Koch World continued to undermine Trump while he was president, telling donors it would no longer exclusively support Republicans [The Kochs Kneecap Trump in an Attempt to Make the G.O.P. Theirs Again, by Tina Nguyen, Vanity Fair, July 30, 2018].
Trump’s immigration policies were the primary cause of that hostility, of course. Charles Koch said Trump’s “Muslim ban” was Nazi-like [Billionaire Republican donor Charles Koch likens Donald Trump's Muslim ban to Adolf Hitler's policies in Nazi Germany, by Steve Peoples, Independent, January 30, 2017]. The Koch network attacked the then-president over his immigration enforcement policies [Trump should end policy on family separation, says Koch-backed group and business leaders, by Brian Schwartz, CNBC, June 19, 2018]. It also aggressively pushed for Amnesty while he was president [Koch groups urge Trump to accept Democrats’ immigration deal, by Burgess Everett, Politico, March 19, 2018].
Koch World has lost none of its enthusiasm for Open Borders since Trump’s departure from the White House. In 2021, the network joined the George W. Bush Presidential Center to craft a pro-Amnesty immigration exhibit [Koch Network, Bush Center team up on immigration, by Russell Contreras, Axios, April 19, 2021]. In 2022, the network spent millions on ads to pressure lawmakers to support Amnesty. The effort fortunately failed [Koch groups launch ad campaign to promote immigration reform, by Rafael Bernal, The Hill, March 3, 2023]. That same year, AFP endorsed Florida Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar’s Amnesty. The “conservative” group dubiously claimed this would help secure the border when, in fact, it would legalize millions of illegals [How The Dignity Act Can Restore Order to The U.S. Border, by Sam Peak, Americans for Prosperity, March 1, 2022].
All that means immigration patriots Trump and DeSantis could never have received the Koch endorsement. Haley is much more in line with Koch World’s immigration priorities. Haley has a long, terrible record on the issue. She routinely bashed Trump on immigration in 2016. She said the proposed Muslim ban “defies everything that this country was based on and it’s just wrong.” She also argued that “the fabric of America is based on legal immigrants” and urged Republicans to welcome more foreigners to the homeland.
Despite the GOP/GAP’s being less welcoming to these views now, Haley persists. She’s repeatedly advocated for a “merit-based” immigration approach that would import more Indians like herself. Haley has actually said that immigration levels should be determined by corporate CEOs, most notably in the tech and agriculture industries, who obviously want as much cheap foreign labor as possible [Nikki Haley: Let CEOs Import Workers and Graduates They ‘Need,’ by Neil Munro, Breitbart, November 11, 2023]. That approach would balloon legal immigration exponentially.
But she makes sure to stand firm against illegal immigration. She emphasizes that her solution to illegal immigration is deportation, not Amnesty [Haley, Pledging to ‘Close’ the Border, Is Asked: What About Migrants Who Are Already Here?, by Jazmine Ulloa, New York Times, November 4, 2023]. She also says she opposes Birthright Citizenship [Nikki Haley Says Children of Undocumented Immigrants Should be Denied Birthright Citizenship, by Lindsey McPherson, The Messenger, July 2, 2023].
Those seemingly good immigration views reflect just how much the party is improving on this critical issue. Yet Haley’s stance on legal immigration makes her the Treason Lobby favorite. Koch World must think it’s more important to increase legal immigration, or they just figure Haley sounds tough enough on illegal immigration to dupe primary voters. The powerful donors probably think she will change her views if she becomes president. She is certainly more likely to push Amnesty than either Trump or DeSantis.
Koch World’s support of Haley shows how out of touch it is with Republican voters. It would take a miracle for Haley to defeat Trump. The voters want Trump and immigration patriotism. They don’t want John McCain in a skirt.
Yet, the Donor Class still think their money can displace the interests of voters. The GOP primary will prove them wrong. Koch World’s embrace of Haley demonstrates how a Trump victory will further advance the GOP in an America First direction, diminish the power of Business First donors, and send a clear message to the party Establishment that their millions can’t swindle the base anymore.
The base wants immigration patriotism… no matter what.
Washington Watcher II [Email him] is an anonymous DC insider.