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What Haley donors, voters think about her saying shell vote for Trump in November

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(WASHINGTON) — Former Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley’s supporters are still split after she said she will be voting for former President Donald Trump, some seeing it as a “greenlight” for them to vote for Trump as well, while others are still not convinced.

After Haley suspended her campaign in March, Trump immediately became the presumptive GOP nominee but was faced with the task of bringing back Haley’s supporters and reuniting the Republican Party without her endorsement, especially after months of bitter rivalry.

Haley’s announcement on Wednesday that she will be voting for Trump appeared to soften the lingering animosity between the two, with Trump himself saying during media interviews on Thursday that he appreciated Haley’s comment – even saying he thinks she’s “going to be on our team,” while not specifying what he meant by “our team.”

The latest comments from the two is a move that could unite their support base, especially for Haley’s donors after earlier this year Trump “permanently barred” them from his MAGA movement, saying, “We don’t want them, and will not accept them,” as the rivalry between the two escalated in the primaries.

“Anybody that makes a ‘Contribution’ to Birdbrain, from this moment forth, will be permanently barred from the MAGA camp,” Trump wrote on his social media platform in January. “We don’t want them, and will not accept them …”

Eric Levine, a New York-based Haley fundraiser who had vowed not to vote for Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol but had recently announced he would be voting for Trump, said: “What was her alternative?”

He told ABC News voting for Biden instead of Trump is not an option right now when the United States needs to “support Israel, confront our enemies and support our allies.” Levine also said that Haley’s public comment — even if it’s not a full endorsement — could persuade a lot of her supporters who felt “lost” inch toward Trump.

“I think this gives a lot of people permission to not just not vote for Joe Biden, but to vote for Donald Trump,” Levine said. “I think this is a very important statement that she made.”

Longtime Haley ally David Wilkins, a former U.S. ambassador to Canada under the Bush administration, also praised Haley’s announcement as “a good move,” saying, “Republicans need to be united as best we can.”

Ozzie Palomo, a lobbyist and prominent GOP bundler who raised money for Haley, echoed that sentiment, saying, “I think it’s the right call.”

“All the statements she made about Trump was during the primary; primaries are over and I think the world has dramatically changed, probably faster and more significantly than anyone anticipated over the last five, six months,” Palomo said, criticizing the Biden administration.

“Her saying she plans to vote for him probably gives cover to a significant portion of those that remain on the fence to feel comfortable enough to do the same,” Palomo said while acknowledging there are still likely people who will not support Trump.

Palomo said her comment that she will vote for Trump is “about as close to a full-out endorsement as you’re gonna get from her at least in the near term.”

“She could have easily said I’m not voting for Biden and left that open ended,” Palomo said. “However, she took the opportunity in a very public format to stress the fact that based on geopolitical matters and other policies like immigration, the economic mess, she’s comfortable to pick one over the other in a clear binary choice.”

Palomo stressed it’s still “incumbent on the former presidential reach out to her supporters and try to lure them back,” but noted the Trump campaign and the Republican Party’s recent fundraising success is a sign that many are already moving toward Trump’s direction — adding he himself has begun supporting Team Trump’s high-dollar joint fundraising operation with the Republican National Committee.

However, another major Haley donor, who spoke under the condition of anonymity to talk freely, told ABC News that Haley’s decision to vote for Trump did not change her mind about writing in her name in November instead of voting for the former president.

“I’m not voting for him — I’ll just tell you that,” the donor said. “I know it’s a binary choice, and I bravo and brava to those who take the binary choice seriously. I’ll be writing in Nikki Haley.”

The donor said the only way she’s voting for Trump is if Haley is picked as his running mate, but the donor said she doesn’t see that happening.

Earlier this month, Trump quickly shut down rumors about his team considering Haley as his running mate, writing on his social media platform, “Nikki Haley is not under consideration for the V.P. slot, but I wish her well!”

“I’m surprised how many of the bigger donors are coming to the same conclusion that Nikki has,” the donor said, later adding, “Clearly, I’m a minority in the GOP.”

Criticizing Biden’s policies, the donor said she feels Biden’s team’s effort to court Haley’s support base has not been enough, adding at the end of the day, Haley is “more at odds with Joe Biden than she is with Donald Trump.”

Following Haley’s withdrawal from the presidential race, the Biden campaign said there is room in their coalition for Haley supporters and has continued to reach out to the Haley Coalition.

Most recently, Biden’s reelection campaign held a call with a group of supporters of former presidential candidate Nikki Haley on Wednesday night—after Haley said she would vote for former President Donald Trump in November. On the call, voters shared policy issues that were important to them heading into November, with much of the focus on the border and immigration.

“Does this help her? Does it hurt her? Maybe both,” the donor said of how Haley’s comment that she plans to vote for Trump could affect her future political aspirations.

“Some people that thought she was going to be the avatar of beating up Trump until he’s in the grave are probably not coming back for more spoonfuls, so I think that is a potential loss,” the donor said. “But there are a lot of Republicans that are ‘real Republican’ … That is support whoever the nominee is — then you’re not a team player.”

Those who voted for Haley in the GOP primary also reacted to her saying she’ll vote for the former president, many of whom said that they didn’t see her intent to vote for him as a complete endorsement.

Eli Raykinstein, a student at Michigan State University, told ABC News he thought it was inevitable that Haley would say she would be voting for Trump, but he also added that he doesn’t see it as a complete endorsement of the former president.

“I’ve already begun leaning more towards Trump, and I agree with Nikki when she says that Biden has been a complete catastrophe,” Raykinstein said. “I’m also looking to see who Trump chooses as his running-mate for 2024 cause I’m sure that will skew my thinking on the race, too.”

Alissa Baker, a voter in Virginia who supported Haley, told ABC News that she felt relief when Haley said she would vote for Trump because now we can move on from anticipating who she would vote for in November.

Baker also shared Raykinstein’s thoughts — that Haley is not endorsing Trump and added that this won’t impact her decision on who she’ll vote for in November.

“This was a personal decision of a private citizen, not an endorsement. Nikki has told her voters to vote their conscience and in November, that’s exactly what I will do,” Baker said.

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