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Nikki Haley may draw wealthy donors off sidelines

Republican U.S. presidential candidate and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley registers for the South Carolina 2024 presidential primary ballot at the South Carolina State House in Columbia, South Carolina, U.S. October 30, 2023. 

Sam Wolfe | Reuters

Former United States ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has a rare chance at Wednesday’s debate to reel in undecided wealthy donors who have so far sat on the sidelines of the 2024 presidential election.

Haley is surging in the polls, and has pulled even with fellow primary contender Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in a new Iowa poll. The survey showed former President Donald Trump leading them both among likely Republican Iowa caucus participants.

Still, for Haley there are a number of wealthy financiers, including Citadel CEO Ken Griffin, hedge fund titan Paul Singer and Thomas Peterffy, the founder of stock brokerage firm Interactive Brokers, who have yet to decide the candidate they want to support.

Griffin, who recently said he was currently sitting on the sidelines of the 2024 presidential election, reportedly called Haley “a rockstar” during a closed door meeting with other business leaders.

Peterffy, who was planning to help DeSantis but later soured on him due to the governor’s stance on abortion, is now searching for another candidate he can help run for president. Peterffy’s other preferred potential nominee, Virginia GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin, opted not to run this cycle.

“Anyone I will support will have to undertake, whatever their personal belief, to protect individual rights to self determination and that should include abortion,” Peterffy said in an email to CNBC when asked who he’s watching at the debate in Miami.

Haley recently told a crowd in New Hampshire “I am unapologetically pro-life, not because the Republican Party tells me, but because my husband was adopted, and I live with that blessing every day.

Haley has stopped short in April of calling for a national abortion ban, a position that puts her at odds with some members of her party. Then in May she pledged to sign a federal ban on abortion, while not committing to how many weeks a federal ban should encompass

When asked if he’d consider supporting Haley in the primary, Peterffy said to CNBC, “I will take some time to decide.”

The debate will air on NBC at 8:00PM ET, and CNBC is live blogging it.

Billionaire Ken Griffin say he's on sidelines for GOP presidential primary

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