(Bloomberg) -- Republican presidential contender Nikki Haley stepped up attacks on Donald Trump’s foreign policy as she seeks openings to boost her support among rural Iowans, who have traditionally backed the former president.
“While I agree with a lot of his policies, there are a lot of things I don’t agree with,” Haley said in response to a question at a crowded town hall in Waukee, about 20 miles (30 km) west of Des Moines.
Trump “rewards dictators and thugs,” praised Hamas after its Oct. 7 attack on Israel and criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu because of “a past vendetta” with him, Haley said.
With little more than a month remaining until the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 15, Haley and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis descended on the state over the weekend in the latest round of campaigning. Polls suggest Trump remains the front-runner for the Republican nomination by a wide margin.
Haley, a former South Carolina governor who served as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, reprised the tack she took last week in the latest Republican candidates’ debate, where she critiqued Trump for his China policy while others including DeSantis shied away.
Earlier: Wall Street Darling Haley Draws Rivals’ Fire as Bid Gains Steam
Trump maintains a 28.6 percentage-point lead over DeSantis in Iowa, with Haley 3 points behind DeSantis, according to a RealClearPolitics average of polls. DeSantis is betting on his so-called ground game in the early nominating state, having recently completed a tour of all 99 counties.
DeSantis has booked key Iowa endorsements, including from Governor Kim Reynolds and prominent evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats. His campaign has made headlines for leadership shakeups at a super political action committee boosting his bid, Never Back Down, while a second PAC, Fight Right, has emerged and begun buying air time in Iowa.
Haley, who has garnered the attention of Wall Street icons and wealthy donors, has risen in the polls following her performances at the Republican debates. She also won an endorsement from the Americans for Prosperity Action, a super PAC with ties to billionaire donor Charles Koch, which has begun a door-knocking operation and advertising blitz in Iowa on her behalf.
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