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WASHINGTON: More than three million Americans voted in the Republican primary for Nikki Haley to be their candidate to fight the 2024 presidential election — before she conceded this week to Donald Trump.

That leaves a significant portion of the party with no champion to back, and the choice of staying at home or switching loyalties to Trump or even Democratic President Joe Biden.
AFP spoke to four Haley supporters about their plans for November.

Adam Caldwell was so impressed with Haley’s candidacy that he drove hours on his birthday to attend the 52-year-old former UN ambassador’s campaign launch in February 2023.
“To me she represents where the future of the party should be headed,” says the tall, dark-haired North Carolina businessman.
But after watching his candidate lose virtually every Republican nominating contest to Trump, 77, he knew she would need a “miracle” to maintain a credible challenge through “Super Tuesday” — this week’s 15-state voting night.
Caldwell says he was turned off by Trump due to the events of January 6, 2021, when supporters of the former president ransacked the US Congress to halt the peaceful transfer of power to 81-year-old Biden.
But voting for Biden in November is out of the question, he says.
“I’ve been a Republican all my life,” he shrugs, acknowledging that this means he will have to hold his nose and vote for Trump.
“I just hope Donald Trump knows how to welcome Nikki Haley’s supporters,” he huffs to AFP.

Mallory Macon is also a Republican, but this South Carolina nurse “will probably vote for Biden” in the presidential election.
“I’m strongly against Trump being president again,” says the 28-year-old, although she voted for the tycoon in 2020.
Explaining her enmity, the young mom points to the Supreme Court gutting federal protections for abortion access after Trump appointed three justices to the bench.
She said she appreciates that Biden, despite being a practicing Catholic, continues to support free access to abortion.

As an independent, 59-year-old Lisa’s vote is coveted above most others.
Independents could tip the balance for either Biden or Trump in an election that looks set to be decided by a few hundred thousand votes across a handful of swing states.
For Lisa, Trump’s criminal exposure — he faces 91 felony counts across four jurisdictions — makes him unfit for office and she supported Haley in New Hampshire’s primary in January.
She says she will now shift her support to Biden — “the lesser of two evils.
“I cannot vote for Donald Trump,” the lawyer told AFP. “He’s a threat to democracy, he’s horrible. He’s a criminal.”

Of the four voters who spoke to AFP, Mary Rickert was the least certain about which way she would turn.
The septuagenarian, who works on a ranch in northern California, says she’s “not sure yet” who to support on November 5.
“I’m not really excited about either option,” she confides, a little dejectedly.
Her main concern? The age of both candidates.
“I’m in my 70s also and there’s a certain amount of stamina and clarity of thinking that’s needed, so that’s a concern of mine,” she says.
She says she has resolved to “wait and see what happens.”

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