Nikki Haley Says She Will Vote for Trump in 2024 Election

Melina Mara/The Washington Post
Nikki Haley suspended her presidential campaign in early March.

Former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, who suspended her run for the Republican nomination for president in early March, announced she will vote for Donald Trump but reiterated that he should not assume that her supporters will back him.

“I will be voting for Trump. Having said that, I stand by what I said in my suspension speech,” Haley said Wednesday. “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. And I genuinely hope he does.”

Her announcement came in her first public appearance since suspending her campaign for president during a conversation at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank where she was recently named the organization’s Walter P. Stern chair. In a speech, Haley repeatedly attacked President Biden’s position on foreign policy and criticized his handling of the wars in Gaza and Ukraine. She did not mention Trump in her remarks but responded to a moderator’s question after the speech about which candidate she preferred on foreign policy – Trump or President Biden.

Haley rattled off a list of issues that are important to her and said that Trump has not been perfect on them but that Biden “has been a catastrophe.”

Haley, a lifelong Republican, heavily criticized Trump during the GOP primary and did not endorse him when she suspended her campaign. Her suspension cleared the way for him to become the presumptive Republican nominee against Biden.

Still, she has continued to earn sizable shares of the vote in primaries since she dropped out, including over 20 percent against Trump in the Indiana primary earlier this month.

Haley, who served in the Trump administration, was the first major rival to challenge Trump for the nomination. She criticized Trump when he first ran in 2016, before joining his administration the next year. During her campaign she aggressively hit Trump, including questioning his mental fitness for office.

In addition to policy criticisms, Trump attacked Haley with both sexist and racially charged attacks, including sharing a false “birther” claim about Haley that incorrectly suggested she was ineligible to be president or vice president because her parents were not U.S. citizens when she was born. Ahead of the South Carolina primary, he mocked Haley’s husband, a service member who was deployed overseas, enraging Haley and her allies.

The Biden campaign has recently made moves to persuade her supporters to vote for Biden instead, including a digital ad featuring Trump denigrating Haley during the campaign. Some of Biden’s fundraisers have held meetings with people in Haley’s orbit to recruit them.

Biden’s campaign reacted quickly to Haley’s announcement Wednesday that she would vote for Trump. Within minutes, the campaign shared on X old clips of Trump criticizing Haley supporters and downplaying the need to court them.

“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 – while also rejecting the chaos, division and violence that Donald Trump embodies,” Biden campaign communications director Michael Tyler said in a statement.

Haley’s speech made clear her criticism of Biden, who she said “will go down in history as the commander in chief who refused to stop our enemies.”

Explaining her decision to back Trump, Haley said: “As a voter, I put my priorities on a president who’s going to have the backs of our allies and hold our enemies to account. Who would secure the border, no more excuses. A president who would support capitalism and freedom. A president who understands we need less debt, not more debt.”

She added: “Trump has not been perfect on these policies. I have made that clear many, many times. But Biden has been a catastrophe.”

Among her criticisms of Biden, Haley said Wednesday that his decision to withhold weapons from Israel “validates the totally false and destructive narrative that Israel is acting unjustly by defending herself,” adding that she thinks Israel “is conducting its war of self-defense more humanely than any army in history.”

Biden, she said, is “dragging out a war, emboldening terrorists and making other wars more likely.”

After the speech, Haley announced she would travel to Israel to show support and see the situation on the ground.

Many of Haley’s top advisers and campaign staff members were present for her address. She thanked them and her supporters and told attendees that life has been “really good” since ending her campaign. She said she slept 10 to 12 hours a day for weeks after suspending her presidential bid. Hayley added that she has been able to spend more time with family, including her husband, Michael, who was deployed abroad for much of her campaign but has since returned from Djibouti.

Haley has not spoken to Trump or Biden since suspending her campaign, including ahead of her announcement on Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss Haley’s private schedule.