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Indian-origin former US presidential aspirant Nikki Haley says she will vote for Trump

Haley had levelled harsh criticisms of her Republican rival Trump during the campaign trail, speaking on his age and accusing him of creating chaos. She dropped her presidential bid in March, but still routinely wins over 10 per cent in state-run primaries where she is no longer campaigning.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee North Charleston (South Carolina) Published on: May 23, 2024 7:59 IST
Nikki Haley, Donald Trump
Image Source : REUTERS (FILE) Nikki Haley served as the US ambassador to the UN for two years while Trump was in office.

South Carolina: Indian-origin former US presidential contender Nikki Haley said on Wednesday that she will vote for former President and her erstwhile Republican rival Donald Trump in the November election, despite lobbing harsh criticisms at him for months during the campaign trail. There had been immense speculation on who will receive the votes of Haley's supporters in the November election, a rematch between Trump and Democratic President Joe Biden.

While Haley dropped her bid for the Republican presidential nomination in March, her name has remained on the ballot and she still routinely wins well over 10 per cent of the vote in state-run primary contests despite no longer campaigning. Many of those votes are cast by Republicans and independents dissatisfied with Trump, and some Democrats have begun courting their support.

"Trump has not been perfect on these policies. I've made that clear many, many times. But Biden has been a catastrophe. So I will be voting for Trump," Haley told an audience during a question-and-answer session on Wednesday at the Washington-based Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank. This event marked Haley's first public appearance since dropping out of the campaign race.

Haley's attacks on Trump

Haley, who served as the US ambassador to the United Nations for two years when Trump was in office, never seriously challenged the former president for the nomination, winning only one state and the District of Columbia before ending her campaign. However, her fierce attacks on his character and competence in the final months of her campaign made Haley the standard bearer for the dwindling anti-Trump wing of the Republican Party.

When Haley ended her campaign, she did not endorse Trump, and she still has not formally done so. She repeated her comments that the former President should reach out to her supporters and earn their votes. "Trump would be smart to reach out to the millions of people who voted for me and continue to support me and not assume that they're just going to be with him," Haley said.

Haley's remarks are another signal of the Republican Party's virtually complete consolidation of support behind Trump, even from those who have labelled him a threat in the past. During the campaign, Haley accused Trump of causing chaos and disregarding the importance of US alliances abroad as well as questioning whether he was too old to be president again.

Trump, in turn, repeatedly mocked her with the nickname “Birdbrain," though he curtailed those attacks after securing enough delegates in March to become the presumptive Republican nominee. Trump's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Haley's Wednesday announcement.

Biden trying to woo Haley's supporters

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden's campaign has been working to win over her supporters, whom they view as true swing voters. Biden's team is quietly organising a Republicans for Biden group, which will eventually include dedicated staff and focus on the hundreds of thousands of Haley voters in each battleground state, according to people familiar with the plans but not authorized to discuss them publicly.

Haley has sharply criticised Biden's foreign policy and handling of the US-Mexico border crisis in her speech on Wednesday. Biden’s campaign was quick to diminish Haley’s comments, saying there is still a segment of Republican voters who are “rejecting the chaos, division and violence that Donald Trump embodies", according to Politico.

“Nothing has changed for the millions of Republican voters who continue to cast their ballots against Donald Trump in the primaries and care deeply about the future of our democracy, standing strong with our allies against foreign adversaries, and working across the aisle to get things done for the American people,” said Biden spokesperson Michael Tyler.

Earlier this month, Haley huddled in South Carolina with some of her donors, an event characterised as a “thank you” to her top supporters and not a discussion about Haley's future political plans or intended to push her backers toward any other candidate. If she runs for president again, Haley will likely need to win over former Trump supporters in a Republican primary, but her support for him now risks offending moderates and anti-Trump conservatives.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ |?Donald Trump's lawyers rest case in hush money trial without calling him to testify

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