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Former Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley says she will vote for Donald Trump

This combo photo shows Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, left, in Greenwood, S.C., and Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump in Conway, S.C., on Feb. 10, 2024. (AP Photo, File) This combo photo shows Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, left, in Greenwood, S.C., and Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump in Conway, S.C., on Feb. 10, 2024. (AP Photo, File)
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COLUMBIA, S.C. -

Nikki Haley said Wednesday that she will be voting for Donald Trump in the general election, a notable show of support given their intense and often personal rivalry during the Republican primary calendar.

But Haley also made it clear that she feels Trump has work to do to win over voters who supported her during the course of the primary campaign and continue to cast votes for her in ongoing primary contests.

“I will be voting for Trump,” Haley, Trump’s former UN ambassador, said during an event at the Hudson Institute in Washington.

“Having said that, I stand by what I said in my suspension speech,” Haley added. "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 that.”

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks during a news conference on March 6, 2024. (Chris Carlson/AP Photo)

The comments in her first public speech since leaving the race are another signal of the GOP’s virtually complete consolidation of support behind Trump, even from those who have labeled him a threat in the past.

Haley shuttered her own bid for the GOP nomination two months ago but did not immediately endorse Trump, having accused him of causing chaos and disregarding the importance of U.S. alliances abroad as well as questioning whether Trump, 77, was too old to be president again.

Trump, in turn, repeatedly mocked her with the nickname “Birdbrain," though he curtailed those attacks after securing enough delegates in March to become the presumptive Republican nominee.

Trump's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Haley's announcement.

U.S. President Joe Biden's campaign, meanwhile, has been working to win over her supporters, whom they view as true swing voters. Biden’s team is quietly organizing a Republicans for Biden group, which will eventually include dedicated staff and focus on the hundreds of thousands of Haley voters in each battleground state, according to people familiar with the plans but not authorized to discuss them publicly.

Despite Haley’s announcement Wednesday, the Biden campaign made it clear they would continue to court voters who backed her in Republican primaries this year.

“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,” Michael Tyler, the campaign’s communications director, said in a statement. “Only one candidate shares those values, and only one campaign is working hard every day to earn their support — and that’s President Biden’s.”

Meanwhile, Haley made several criticisms of Biden's foreign policy and handling of the U.S.-Mexico border in her speech Wednesday at the Hudson Institute, a conservative Washington think tank she recently joined as she reemerges in the political realm.

Earlier this month, Haley huddled in South Carolina with some of her donors, an event characterized as a “thank you” to her top supporters and not a discussion about Haley’s future political plans or intended to push her backers toward any other candidate.

If she runs for president again, Haley will likely need to win over former Trump supporters in a Republican primary. But her support for him now risks offending moderates and anti-Trump conservatives.

Jill Colvin in New York and Seung Min Kim in Washington contributed reporting 

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