President Biden’s Campaign Making Pitch To PA Nikki Haley Voters

President Biden’s campaign is working to win over Nikki Haley supporters.

By Kim Lyons | Pennsylvania Capital-Star

Then-Vice President Joe Biden speaking to a 2016 crowd in Bristol Township.
Credit: Tom Sofield/NewtownPANow.com

President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign is wasting no time trying to court some of the more than 150,000 Republicans who voted for former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley in Tuesday’s primary. Pennsylvania has closed primaries, meaning only registered Republicans and Democrats can vote in their party’s primary. 

The Haley votes are widely viewed as a protest against former President Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee. She dropped out of the race in March after Super Tuesday, but had presented her campaign as a conservative alternative to Trump and his brand of politics.

Trump won the GOP primary in Pennsylvania, unofficial tallies show, with 789,000 votes to Haley’s 157,000. But political prognosticators honed in on that number, because in 2020, Biden beat Trump in Pennsylvania by just 80,000 votes, slightly less than half of the votes Haley siphoned away from Trump on Tuesday.

“It’s clear many Republicans across the Commonwealth are rejecting Donald Trump for his extremism, his attacks on Social Security and Medicare, and his relentless assault on the freedoms that Pennsylvanians hold dear,” Nikki Lu, Biden’s Pennsylvania campaign manager, said in an email to the Capital-Star.

“And while Donald Trump has done nothing to win these voters back, our team is dedicated to reaching voters in every corner of the Commonwealth.”

After she exited the race, Biden praised Haley for her “courage” and made an appeal to Haley voters, saying “there is a place for them in my campaign.” The Biden campaign released an ad last month aimed at Haley voters, featuring clips of Trump repeatedly mocking her.

That’s a markedly different approach than Trump took, who did not reach out to Haley following her departure from the presidential race. 

The Trump campaign did not reply to an email Wednesday asking if the former president had since reached out to Haley, or whether the campaign plans to try to court the GOP voters who cast ballots for Haley in Pennsylvania’s primary. He had regularly mocked Haley on his Truth Social platform, referring to her as “irrelevant,” posting in January “We don’t want [Haley supporters] and we will not accept them.” 

The Haley primary votes came in large numbers in the so-called “collar counties” around Philadelphia, including Bucks (where Trump took 81% of the vote to Haley’s 19%), Chester (Trump 75%, Haley 25%), Delaware (Trump 76%, Haley 24%) and Montgomery (Trump 75%; Haley 25%) counties, according to unofficial tallies from the Pennsylvania Department of State. The unofficial results show Haley took 20% of the vote in Lancaster County, where Trump beat Biden in 2020 57% to 41%.

And despite some in Pennsylvania’s GOP entreating voters to embrace mail-in ballots, Trump has repeatedly attacked mail-in voting on the campaign trail.

Biden’s reelection campaign and the Pennsylvania Democratic Party on Tuesday opened 10 new coordinated offices statewide, following Biden’s three-city sweep through the commonwealth last week. The campaign said it now has a  total of 24 coordinated campaign offices, which are focused on grassroots organizing, get-out-the-vote efforts and volunteer recruitment.

Trump’s campaign does not appear to have a significant presence in Pennsylvania so far. 

 “At the end of the day, we are all Pennsylvanians, and there will always be a place in President Biden’s coalition for voters who believe in preserving our democracy and building an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top,” Lu said Wednesday.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

About the author

Pennsylvania Capital-Star

The Pennsylvania Capital-Star is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news site dedicated to honest and aggressive coverage of state government, politics and policy.