Politics

Nikki Haley releases her delegates so they can back Donald Trump at the RNC next week

CHAPIN, S.C. — (AP) — Nikki Haley is releasing the delegates she won during this year's Republican primary so that they're free to support Donald Trump at next week's convention, a move that goes toward solidifying GOP support around the party's presumptive nominee.

Haley on Tuesday opted to release her 97 delegates won across a dozen primaries and caucuses earlier this year, according to her former campaign.

In a statement, the former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador called for party unity at the upcoming Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, also calling Democratic President Joe Biden “not competent to serve a second term” and saying that Vice President Kamala Harris — whom Haley repeatedly intimated would end up as president in Biden's stead — “would be a disaster for America.”

“We need a president who will hold our enemies to account, secure our border, cut our debt, and get our economy back on track," Haley said. "I encourage my delegates to support Donald Trump next week in Milwaukee.”

Haley won’t be in attendance in Milwaukee next week, according to spokesperson Chaney Denton.

“She was not invited, and she’s fine with that,” Denton said. “Trump deserves the convention he wants. She’s made it clear she’s voting for him and wishes him the best.”

Haley was the last major GOP rival standing against Trump when she shuttered her own campaign following Trump's Super Tuesday romp, having accused him of causing chaos and disregarding the importance of U.S. alliances abroad.

Trump, in turn, repeatedly mocked her with the nickname “Birdbrain,” though he curtailed those attacks after securing enough delegates in March to become the presumptive Republican nominee.

Trump's campaign did not immediately return a message seeking comment on Haley's move, which was first reported by Politico.

The Republican National Committee defers to individual state rules governing delegates pledged to candidates who withdraw from the contest, so it'll be a patchwork of state-by-state regulations that determine precisely how Haley's delegates are handled.

Biden's campaign has been working to win over her supporters, whom they view as true swing voters. But Haley said in May that she'd be casting her vote for Trump and left it up to the former president to work toward winning over support from her backers.

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Leah Askarinam in Washington contributed.

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Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP

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