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Haley makes 11th-hour plea to Michigan GOP voters ahead of Tuesday primary

A crowd of people standing in a ballroom at the Detroit Marriott in Troy waiting for GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley. Facing them are an American flag and Nikki Haley sign.
Supporters of Nikki Haley gather on Sunday to hear her speak at the Detroit Marriott in Troy. Haley’s appearance came just days ahead of the state's presidential primary election. (Bridge photo by Jordyn Hermani)
  •  Nikki Haley was in Troy Sunday to explain why voters should back her in Michigan’s Tuesday’s presidential primary
  • While railing against both former President Donald Trump and current President Joe Biden, Haley said a vote for her was a vote for normalcy
  • It’s the first of Haley’s two scheduled stops in Michigan. The other is Monday in Grand Rapids

TROY — A day after suffering a stinging defeat in her home state to former President Donald Trump, a defiant Nikki Haley brought her Republican presidential campaign to Michigan Sunday night.

The former United Nations ambassador addressed a semi-packed hotel conference room in Troy, the first of two planned campaign stops in the state ahead of Tuesday’s presidential primary. Haley used Sunday’s appearance to make a case for decorum in national politics. 

“It's not normal to have Joe Biden calling Trump supporters fascists and for Donald Trump to call Joe Biden's supporters vermin. Think about that,” said Haley, who also plans an appearance Monday at the Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids.

“Republicans, we can want — and I know all of you want to — to change the direction of our country. And we can want that all day. But that is not going to happen if we can’t win.”

While the bulk of her speech touched on typical Republican campaign touchstones – lowering the national debt, tightening up security at the Southern border and advocating for stronger voter ID laws – a portion focused on her overall electability compared to Trump and Biden.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday puts Biden 4 percentage points ahead of Trump in a hypothetical 2024 presidential matchup. That same poll puts Haley ahead of Biden by 3 percentage points in the general election, though it has her losing to Trump in primary elections.

But her visit also came on the heels of something critical: Her loss in South Carolina, where Haley formerly served as governor. The Associated Press called the election in favor of Trump the minute polls closed statewide on Saturday.

Unofficial election results from the news agency put Trump at taking home nearly 60% of the vote, earning him 47 delegates to Haley’s mere three.

Despite this, that same night on social media, Haley again reiterated her vow to stay into the race until at least March 5. Also known as Super Tuesday, that date will see 16 states plus American Samoa hold either a primary or caucus for the 2024 presidential election.

Haley’s resilience is good news to people like Jordan Nelson, 23, of Georgia, who attended the rally as part of a university program. A self-identified Democrat, Nelson said she didn’t see herself voting for Haley but appreciated her staying in the race for people like her mother.

“My mom is just very lost for this election, because after Trump’s presidency she realized how much she wasn’t as on board as she thought she was,” Nelson said. “She’s definitely not going to vote Democratic. I don’t know where she’s at right now.”


Haley hit on that idea when remarking that she wasn’t staying in the race for her own benefit, but because “we can’t be OK” with the current status quo.

“Do we really want to have a country in disarray, the world on fire, and have our two candidates be in their 80s?” Haley said. “We need someone who can put in eight years of hard work, day and night, focused on real solutions for the American people. Not vendettas. Not drama. Just results for the American people.”

Husband and wife Bob and Karen Cowen of Farmington Hills, said that’s part of the reason they’re backing Haley. Though they voted for Trump when he ran in 2016 and 2020, they’ve since found they can’t handle Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric any more.

“He’s full of hot air,” Bob Cowen said.

“My fear is that Trump cannot win. I don’t see how he can stop his ticking off so many good people – especially moderates, who you need to have a victory for the White House,” he said. “Without the moderates, you’re lost. And he is pushing so many moderates away.”

Unlike her husband, who said he would reluctantly vote for Trump again were he the nominee, Karen Cowen said she couldn’t, knowing how much she preferred Haley as a candidate.

“Every time she speaks, I cannot come up with a thing with which I would disagree … she is a brilliant leader,” she said. “You don’t get a lot of garbage coming out. You get honest, thoughtful decision-making — and that’s what we need.”

Only 16 of Michigan’s 55 Republican delegates will be up for grabs on Tuesday. The Michigan Republican Party will allocate the remaining 39 delegates on March 2, based on the results of 13 separate congressional district caucus meetings. 

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