Biden campaign meets with Haley voters amid postdebate skepticism

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Biden campaign meets with Haley voters amid postdebate skepticism

President Biden reelection campaign aides held a call Wednesday night with Republicans who supported former Gov. Nikki Haley (R-S.C.) and expressed their concerns about Biden after his debate performance, multiple sources familiar with the meeting told The Hill.

The call with was with the Haley Voters Working Group, which is made up of Haley supporters, and the aides on the call were Biden’s senior spokesperson Kevin Munoz and national Republican engagement director Austin Weatherford.

The campaign has worked to court Haley voters, some of whom have continued to cast primary protest votes for her after she suspended her bid.

“There isn’t necessarily enthusiasm for somebody else, but certainly it’s going to be harder for Biden himself to win over some of these voters at this point. But that’s common among Haley voters at this point,” one source familiar said about the nature of the call.

It was the second call the campaign has held with the group; it followed Haley’s decision to release her delegates to Trump at the convention next week. The campaign also had a May conversation with the group, after Haley’s statement that she would vote for former President Trump over Biden. The Haley group asked for the first call, a source said. Since, there has been what was described as an ongoing conversation.

“While participants raised concerns about Biden’s debate performance, our working group continues to be issues and policy-focused, and last night gave participants the chance to touch on some of the real issues that will determine how they vote this fall,” said Emily Matthews, co-chair of the Haley Voters Working Group. “While the news cycle is still, understandably, caught up with post-debate coverage, our group found it respectable that the Biden campaign made time to come to the table and listen.”

She added that a majority of the group is against Trump, but most members are unsure about how they want to go about blocking him, whether it’s a vote for Biden, a write-in vote, or they want someone else to step up to the Democratic ticket.

“There was serious skepticism on the call about if Biden is running again,” said one source familiar with the conversation. “The Biden campaign is saying one thing, but what we saw doesn’t seem like he will be the guy that beats Trump.”

A member of Haley’s state leadership team on the call said, “I saw January 6 and that’s why I can’t vote for Trump. But now I’ve also seen June 27, and I honestly can’t see myself voting for Joe Biden after that,” according to the source familiar.

The campaign aides responded by acknowledging that the debate was a “bad night” and that they recognize Biden has to get out on the campaign trail more.

The campaign aides also told Haley supporters that Vice President Harris plans to engage with Republican women on reproductive rights issues ahead of November.

But, a female Haley supporter brought up during the call that the perception among voters is that all Harris is talking about is abortion, and voters need to hear more from her about what her other priorities are, multiple sources who were on the call said.

One source on the call said that the campaign aides acknowledged the importance of talking about a diverse group of issues to GOP voters and cited immigration, democracy, and foreign policy as other examples.

Additionally, a two-time Trump voter, who is a construction worker from Alabama, argued that everyone he talks to hates electric vehicles and suggested Biden stop talking about them, multiple sources on the call said.

The campaign aides responded that a huge point they are making is that there is no electric vehicle mandate, and they want to talk about it as a way to bolster manufacturing in America versus abroad.

“There is a place in our coalition for Americans who care 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 – who also reject the chaos, division and violence that Donald Trump embodies,” Biden campaign spokesperson Mia Ehrenberg said in a statement after the news of Haley’s delegate release.