Nikki Haley, once deploring Trump's "chaos," says she plans to vote for him

The Republican runner-up, whose husband's military service was mocked by Trump, is toeing the party line

Published May 22, 2024 9:08PM (EDT)

Nikki Haley and Donald Trump (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Nikki Haley and Donald Trump (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Nikki Haley, once a challenger in a vicious Republican primary, said on Wednesday that she would vote for former President Donald Trump — who mocked her husband for his military service overseas — once it comes time to push that button in November. 

“Where’s her husband? Oh, he’s away. What happened to her husband? Where is he? He’s gone,” Trump said in a February rally, prompting Haley to remind her former boss of her husband’s service.

“Someone who continually disrespects the sacrifices of military families has no business being commander in chief,” Haley wrote on X, months before announcing her support.

Upon dropping out, Haley remarked that Trump would have to “earn the support” of her and her voters, choosing not to endorse him after his brutal attacks, including giving her the nickname “birdbrain.” But she's changing her tune, citing a second Biden term as her motivation.

“I will be voting for Trump,” Haley said at an event for the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank. “Having said that, I stand by what I said in my suspension speech. 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.”

Haley, who netted sizeable chunks of the vote in GOP primary contests even after dropping out, said in 2023 that American voters “are not going to vote for a convicted criminal,” referring to a group of charges against the former president, some of which could see a verdict as early as next week.

She follows in the footsteps of former Trump primary opponents in endorsing him despite constant jabs, like Ted Cruz, who, in 2016, announced his support for Trump after he made disparaging comments against his wife.

Having called Trump "chaos” earlier in this race, and blaming his rhetoric for the 2015 Charleston Church shooting, Haley’s vote could come as a surprise to many of her moderate primary supporters, who clung to her as an alternative to the increasingly violent voices in the Republican party.

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