POLITICO: Nikki Haley, welcome to the Thunderdome

I spoke to POLITICO‘s Alex Isenstadt for his story on the fallout from Nikki Haley’s recent misstep on the New Hampshire campaign trail.

“The answer itself doesn’t have to be a huge problem,” said Liam Donovan, a former National Republican Senatorial Committee official. “But the media response tells you the free ride is over, and she’s in for her first taste of adversity.”

The controversy has given particular oxygen to Christie, who in recent weeks has faced questions about whether he will remain in the race. The former New Jersey governor is polling third in some recent New Hampshire surveys, and many top Republicans in the Granite State say he is potentially siphoning off support that could otherwise go to Haley. Christie has insisted he won’t drop out of the race — he released a direct-to-camera ad this week in which he said as much — but the firestorm could give him added incentive to stay in.

“The problem for Haley is that her path to the nomination already amounts to an early state Triple Lindy, and anything that stands to stunt her rise — or, perhaps worse, breathe new life into somebody like Chris Christie — is something she can ill afford,” said Donovan.

The lasting effect of the controversy, and the extent to which it registers with voters, is unclear. Her remarks came during a slow week between Christmas and New Year’s Day when, Donovan said, “most normal people have better things to do than follow political news.”

But the dearth of other news this week also focused the media more intently on Haley’s remarks and her attempt to clean them up.

Read the full piece here.

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