Biden courts Haley supporters after her exit: ‘We need everyone on board’

Written by on March 7, 2024

Republican presidential candidate, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks at a campaign rally on March 4, 2024 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Emil Lippe/Getty Images)

(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday quickly maneuvered to court Nikki Haley’s supporters moments after she ended her presidential campaign against Donald Trump, with his team projecting confidence they will be able to sway some of the former governor’s supporters as the race pivots toward the general election.

“Donald Trump made it clear he doesn’t want Nikki Haley’s supporters,” Biden said in a statement Wednesday. “I want to be clear: There is a place for them in my campaign.”

“I know there is a lot we won’t agree on,” the president continued, adding, “I hope and believe we can find common ground” on the “fundamental issues” of preserving democracy and NATO, standing up to foreign adversaries and treating others with respect.

Trump, for his part, swiped at Haley in a social media statement after she exited the race but also asked her voters “to join the greatest movement in the history of our Nation.”

Biden’s campaign is publicly confident they will be able to convince Haley backers to vote for him later this year in a matchup with the former president.

While history suggests otherwise — as a party’s voters often rally back to their nominee after a messy primary — Biden’s team insists that Trump is seriously vulnerable with the relative moderates and independents drawn to Haley and potentially crucial in the fall.

They point to exit polling and results from Super Tuesday in what they say is a “major warning sign” to Republicans for November.

“Donald Trump’s path is limited and his coalition is hemorrhaging,” Jen O’Malley Dillon and Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Biden’s campaign chair and campaign manager, respectively, argued in a memo on Wednesday.

“[Trump’s] extreme agenda has lost him critical votes in suburban and exurban areas in key battlegrounds, which his primary contest with Nikki Haley has only reinforced,” they added.

Biden faces his own string of poor or mediocre polling, widespread public concerns about his age and fitness for another term and disapproval on a range of issues like the economy and the border.

But his campaign contends Trump’s fractured party is its own problem.

Exit polls show many of Haley’s voters likely don’t align with Trump’s core supporters: Across California, North Carolina, and Virginia, they gave Biden a 41% job approval rating on average, compared with 95% of Trump supporters disapproving; and 79% of them said Trump wouldn’t be fit for office if convicted of one of his 91 criminal charges. (He denies wrongdoing.)

Further, 80% of Haley voters in North Carolina, 69% in California and 69% in Virginia were unwilling to say they’ll support the GOP’s nominee whoever it is.

In her speech ending her campaign on Wednesday, Haley reminded Trump of those people.

“It is now up to Donald Trump to earn the votes of those who did not support him and I hope he does that,” she said.

She did not endorse Trump in her remarks.

In a statement following Haley’s announcement, Biden praised Haley for forcefully going after Trump in recent months.

“It takes a lot of courage to run for President – that’s especially true in today’s Republican Party, where so few dare to speak the truth about Donald Trump,” he said.

Biden was also quick to highlight Trump’s past insults of Haley as he wooed her supporters.

“You don’t have to agree with me on everything to know MAGA extremism is a threat to this country. We need everyone on board,” he wrote in a fundraising appeal to Haley voters.

That message included a screenshot of a January social media post by Trump that went after Haley’s backers, in which he said, “Anybody that makes a ‘Contribution’ to [her] … will be permanently barred from the MAGA camp. We don’t want them, and will not accept them.”

Pivot to the general election

Following Trump’s near sweep on Super Tuesday — he lost only Vermont — Biden said the American people now have “a clear choice,” echoing what is expected to be his main campaign message to voters.

“Are we going to keep moving forward or will we allow Donald Trump to drag us backwards into the chaos, division, and darkness that defined his term in office?” Biden contended in a statement.

Primary Pivot, a super PAC that was supporting Haley in the primary by encouraging Democrats and independents to cast votes for her for the GOP nomination, made its choice.

The group announced on Wednesday it would rebrand to Haley Voters for Biden.

In a statement, the group said they will target Georgia, Michigan and North Carolina, three battleground states seen as critical in the coming election.

Vice President Kamala Harris said in her own statement that their Super Tuesday victories — only losing the caucuses in the territory of American Samoa — and Biden’s State of the Union address on Thursday will “serve as a springboard for the next, critical phase of the campaign.”

In the days following his speech to Congress, Biden plans to travel to Georgia and Pennsylvania, while Harris plans to be in Arizona and Nevada.

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