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Biden campaign ramps up outreach to Nikki Haley’s voters as she endorses Trump

Despite dropping out of the presidential race in early March, Haley has continued to garner a sizable proportion of GOP primary votes in key swing states.
Nikki Haley
Posted at 1:05 PM, May 24, 2024

President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign is stepping up efforts to encourage Nikki Haley voters to back the incumbent president in November, despite Haley’s formal endorsement of former President Donald Trump on Wednesday.

A Biden campaign official joined a call Wednesday night with a group of Haley supporters from across the country, two sources confirmed to Scripps News. It's part of the campaign’s ongoing outreach to Haley voters.

Beyond such calls, the Biden campaign intends to soon bring on a full-time staff member dedicated to connecting with and organizing Republican voters on President Biden’s behalf, a source familiar with the campaign’s planning told Scripps News — and campaign officials are actively working behind the scenes to secure endorsements of the president from high-profile Republicans and other officials.

This combination photo shows Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, and Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

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Still, not all Haley supporters are on the Biden train. Krista Moore, chair of the Nikki Haley campaign’s North Carolina leadership team and the state’s "Women for Nikki" group, raised doubts about how successful Biden’s efforts to win Haley voters would be.

“I don’t know any Nikki Haley supporters who are going to vote for Biden. I can't name one,” she told Scripps News. “I’m deeply connected with the community, from 'Women for Nikki' and various social groups, and they're either writing her in, voting for Trump or are still undecided. Biden isn’t even on their radar.”

Wednesday’s call, which came mere hours after Haley announced her intent to vote for Trump, was organized by the Haley Voters Working Group and had been scheduled before her endorsement was rendered.

Robert Schwartz, executive director of the pro-Haley group, said Biden campaign deputy political director Juan Peñalosa participated in the call with Haley supporters, which he described as a “good, kind of interactive discussion.”

Peñalosa “acknowledged policy differences but said that the Biden campaign was committed to working to earn their votes and that he just wanted to listen,” Schwartz told Scripps News.

During remarks at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday afternoon, Haley said Trump “has not been perfect” on conservative policies but nonetheless declared that she “will be voting” for him.

Still, she reiterated that the former president “would be smart to reach out to the millions of people who voted" for her and continue to support her "and not assume that they’re just going to be with him.”

Trump subsequently told Long Island’s News 12 Thursday he “appreciated” what Haley said and said there could be a place for her on his “team.”

“You know, we had a nasty campaign; it was pretty nasty,” Trump said. “But she's a very capable person, and I'm sure she's going to be on our team in some form."

Schwartz said Haley’s endorsement of Trump was “a little disappointing” but nonetheless “expected.”

“She has to make a tough decision, but she's leaving it to her supporters to make their own decision,” Schwartz told Scripps News. He argued that despite Haley’s calls for Trump to work for her supporters' votes, “he hasn’t done that thus far.”

A spokesperson for the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the former president’s outreach to Haley voters.

Despite dropping out of the presidential race in early March, Haley has continued to garner a sizable proportion of GOP primary votes in key swing states, including over 157,000 in Pennsylvania and close to 77,000 in Wisconsin. In 2020, Biden carried both states with incredibly tight margins – about 81,000 votes in Pennsylvania and 21,000 in Wisconsin.

According to Schwartz, the Trump campaign has quite a bit more work to do to bridge that gap.

“The people I'm working with have decided that, based on Trump's record, it's unlikely they'll vote for him,” he said. “I'm in that group. I don't think there's anything Trump could do to win my vote. I think there's a lot of people in the group that are just trying to decide between staying home, writing and Nikki Haley or voting for Joe Biden.”