‘Join us’: Biden campaign urges Haley supporters to turn against Trump

<span>Nikki Haley, who dropped out of the Republican race earlier this month.</span><span>Photograph: Chris Carlson/AP</span>
Nikki Haley, who dropped out of the Republican race earlier this month.Photograph: Chris Carlson/AP

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign released an ad targeting Republicans who supported Nikki Haley in her losing primary against Donald Trump.

“If you voted for Nikki Haley, Donald Trump doesn’t want your vote,” the president’s campaign ad says. “Save America. Join us.”

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The ad shows clips of Trump disparaging Haley, the former South Carolina governor who was ambassador to the United Nations when Trump was president but fought on the longest of his opponents for the Republican nomination this year.

Insults quoted include “birdbrain”, “Rino” (Republican in name only), “she’s gone crazy”, “a very angry person”, “not presidential timber” and “she’s gone haywire”.

“I don’t need votes” from Haley’s supporters, Trump is shown to say, adding: “I have all the votes we need.”

Michael Tyler, communications director for Biden’s campaign, said: “Donald Trump has made it crystal clear he doesn’t want support from voters who cast their ballot for Nikki Haley so let us be equally clear: there is a home for everyone on this campaign who knows Donald Trump cannot be back in the White House.

“Joe Biden is building a broad and diverse coalition of voters who want more freedoms not less, who want to protect our democracy, and who want to live in a country that is safe from the chaos, division, and violence that another Donald Trump presidency would bring.”

The Biden campaign said it planned to spend more than $1m to air the ad on digital platforms in battleground states, “targeting Nikki Haley voters in predominantly suburban zip codes where she performed well against Trump”.

The Biden campaign this week saw encouraging results in many states likely to decide the election, gains that led Simon Rosenberg, an influential Democratic operative, to say the “Biden bump is real”.

Biden has also vastly out-raised Trump, including through a high-profile fundraiser in New York City on Thursday, at which the president appeared with Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, his most recent Democratic predecessors in the Oval Office.

Unnamed Biden officials told the Washington Post senior figures including Jeffrey Katzenberg, the Hollywood mogul and campaign co-chair, had spoken to “people in Haley’s orbit”.

The question of outreach to anti-Trump Republicans is a perennial one. The new Biden ad landed on the same day as a Politico column in which the influential Washington reporter Jonathan Martin chastised as “political malpractice” a failure to reach out to influential anti-Trump Republicans.

Figures cited as ripe for wooing included Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor who has ended his flirtation with a third-party run; the former president George W Bush; the former House speaker and vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan; and Mike Pence, Trump’s vice-president whose run for the nomination failed but who sensationally said he would not endorse Trump this year.

Another anti-Trump Republican, the Utah senator and 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney, told Martin: “Biden has not asked for my support. I’m pretty critical of his mess at the border – that should have cooled his jets!”

Haley dropped out of the Republican primary after Super Tuesday, 5 March, having won only the minor prizes of Washington DC and Vermont.

In her concession speech, she said: “It is now up to Donald Trump to earn the votes of those in our party and beyond who did not support him and I hope he does that.”

Haley’s brother, Mitti Randhawa, recently said Trump had not answered his sister’s “plea”, adding: “Shame on you. You will need them.”

Haley has not endorsed Trump and has said she no longer feels bound by a pledge to support the Republican nominee. Her supporters remain a prized commodity. Polling shows them roughly equally split when it comes to choosing Trump or Biden.

Haley has won a little more than 21% of votes in the Republican primary so far, with a high point in losing contests of more than 43% in New Hampshire. She fared less well where Democrats and independents could not vote but still highlighted Trump’s vulnerability in his own party.

Legally, the former president faces unprecedented jeopardy, including 88 criminal charges and multimillion-dollar penalties in civil suits. Political donations have been funneled into paying legal bills now topping $100m.

Politically, Trump must repel Democratic efforts to attract independents and moderates, particularly women opposed to Republican attacks on reproductive rights.

Related: ‘Biden bump is real’: president gains on Trump in six battleground states

After Haley dropped out, Biden said: “Nikki Haley was willing to speak the truth about Trump: about the chaos that always follows him, about his inability to see right from wrong, about his cowering before Vladimir Putin. Donald Trump made it clear he doesn’t want Nikki Haley’s supporters. I want to be clear: There is a place for them in my campaign.”

That campaign now hopes enough of Haley’s supporters will follow Michael Burgess, a South Carolina teacher who recently told the Associated Press: “I will reluctantly vote Biden.

“We can survive bad policy, but we cannot survive the destruction of the constitution at the hands of a morally bankrupt dictator lover in Trump who, supported by his congressional Maga minions, would do just that.”