The GOP Establishment in action.
Nikki Haley made her decision over dinner. Three dinners, to be exact. They were casual, held at the South Carolina governor’s mansion, in the family quarters rather than in the formal dining room. Having long decided that she would wait until after the New Hampshire primary to make her decision, the South Carolina governor was genuinely undecided.
Chris Christie, who had dropped out, is a friend, as is Jeb Bush. She was also seriously considering Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. So she invited Cruz, Bush, and Rubio to dinner. Ted and Heidi Cruz dined with Haley and her husband, Mike, as well as a few close aides on Wednesday, February 10; with Jeb Bush on Thursday, February 11; and with Marco and Jeanette Rubio on Monday, February 15.
Haley decided on Tuesday, just five days before the primary here in the Palmetto State, that Rubio would get her vote, and they appeared together on stage for the first time at a rally in Chapin, S.C. the following evening. Rubio had limped out of the New Hampshire primary with a fifth-place finish having promised his supporters that he would never disappoint them again; Haley’s endorsement was the sort of boost he needed.[…]
That Haley would get behind Rubio was by no means a foregone conclusion. Before his arrival in South Carolina last week, the two knew each other, but not well. They’d “run into each other and spent a little bit of time together,” Pearson says, and they “respected each other then, and are great friends now.”
But it was Jeb Bush to whom Haley had the closest relationship. In October of 2010, when Haley first began to think she could clinch a close gubernatorial race over state senator Vincent Sheheen, she called Jeb Bush to ask: “What do I do if I win?”