Nikki Haley Releases Delegates, Urges Them to Back Trump at Convention

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg News/TNS) — Nikki Haley is releasing her delegates and encouraging them to support her onetime primary rival Donald Trump at next week’s Republican National Convention.

Haley, in a statement Tuesday, called the convention a “time for Republican unity” and cast her decision as important to denying President Joe Biden another term in the White House.

“Joe Biden is not competent to serve a second term and Kamala Harris would be a disaster for America,” Haley said of the incumbent and his vice presidential running mate. “We need a president who will hold our enemies to account, secure our border, cut our debt, and get our economy back on track. I encourage my delegates to support Donald Trump next week in Milwaukee.”

Haley’s decision was first reported by Politico.

The former South Carolina governor ended her own run for the Republican presidential nomination in March after a poor performance in the Super Tuesday contests, becoming the last major rival to Trump to exit the primary. Haley, who also served as ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, ran a campaign that touted her foreign policy experience and pledged to be a careful steward of the federal budget.

She argued the country needed a younger generation of leaders to take the helm and called for presidential candidates older than 75 to undergo mental competency tests, an attack on Trump, 78, and Biden, who at 81 is the oldest U.S. president in history. Questions about Biden’s mental acuity have intensified following a debate performance that led some Democrats to call for him to allow another candidate to take on Trump.

Haley’s 97 delegates come from a variety of states, including four from swing-state Michigan. The small number of delegates she won would not have prevented Trump, who amassed 2,265 delegates, from receiving the nomination, but highlighted a layer of discontent within the Republican Party that Haley was able to harness during her campaign.

Haley won the contests in Vermont and the District of Columbia but also picked up delegates in other states, where her campaign appealed to women, independents and voters reluctant to coalesce behind Trump as the party’s standard-bearer. Her campaign notably secured the backing of some deep-pocketed Wall Street donors reluctant to endorse Trump.

The race between Haley and her onetime boss grew increasingly acrimonious, with the two hurling personal attacks and the former president threatening to ban her donors and supporters from his wing of the GOP if they did not fall in line.

Haley in May said she would vote for Trump in the general election even though he had “not been perfect” on many issues, including foreign policy.

Haley was not invited to the Republican convention, according to her spokesperson Chaney Denton.

“She’s fine with that. Trump deserves the convention he wants,” Denton said in a statement. “She’s made it clear she’s voting for him and wishes him the best.”

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