Nikki Haley says she will vote for Trump for president

image source, Good pictures

image caption, Nikki Haley, the last major Republican to be defeated by Donald Trump in the party’s presidential race, dropped out in early March.

  • author, Sam Cabral
  • stock, BBC News
  • Report from Washington

Former Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley has said that she plans to vote for her former nemesis and boss Donald Trump in the 2024 US presidential election.

Ms Haley, who once served as Mr Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, was the last of his main rivals to drop out of the party’s primary race in early March.

At that time, he did not support him, but urged him to get the votes of the millions who supported him.

On Wednesday, in his first public comments since leaving the race, he said Mr Trump was “not perfect” but called President Joe Biden “a disaster”.

Anti-Trump Republican voters rallied behind Ms Haley’s presidential bid earlier this year, and her dormant candidate is still gaining support more than two months after she left the race.

In at least two state primaries in the last fortnight, he polled more than 20% of the vote.

The Biden campaign is trying to woo these Haley Republicans, a mix of moderate and college-educated independent voters who could help swing the election Democratic. Mr Biden argues that Mr Trump has repeatedly “made it clear he doesn’t want” the voters who supported him.

Speaking Wednesday at the conservative Hudson Institute think tank in Washington, D.C., Ms. Haley continued to draw bipartisan criticism from her campaign.

But he reserved his strongest words for the incumbent.

Mr Biden, he said, had overseen a “debacle” in Afghanistan, “done nothing to stop the invasion” of Ukraine and, most recently, “thrown Israel to the wolves”.

“As a voter, I’m going to put my priorities on the backs of our allies and hold our adversaries accountable, who will protect the border, who will support capitalism and freedom, who understands that we need less debt, we need more debt,” she said.

“Trump hasn’t been right on these policies, but Biden has been a disaster. So I’ll vote for Trump.”

But the former South Carolina governor didn’t invite his supporters to do so.

“I stand by what I said in my suspension speech,” he told the audience.

“Trump would be smart to reach out to the millions of people who voted for me and continue to support me, and don’t think they’re going to stay with him, and I really hope he does.”

He mentioned that the former president did not meet any qualifications.

Speculation is now likely to grow over whether Ms Haley will formally mend her relationship with Mr Trump and endorse him.

Wednesday’s comments will also raise fears of a Trump-Haley Republican ticket in November, which could face fierce opposition among some Trump supporters.

Republican campaign strategist John Connors told the BBC that Ms Haley was “clearly sending a signal” to Mr Trump.

“It’s worth a look because it will open up more fundraising avenues from big donors who are currently sitting on the sidelines, and draw college-educated female voters and never-Trump voters back into the fold.”

Mr Connors added: “Trump-Haley – it’s going to be a tough ticket.”

Additional reporting by Brandon Drennan

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