Biden campaign hires Republican to pursue ‘never Trump’ voters

By Thomson Reuters Jun 6, 2024 | 11:34 AM

By Doina Chiacu and Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden is making a pitch for his re-election to Republicans who do not support their party’s standard-bearer, Donald Trump, in November’s election, a Biden campaign official said on Thursday.

The Democratic president’s campaign has hired a national Republican engagement director: Austin Weatherford, who was chief of staff to former Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger, an outspoken critic of Trump, the official said.

Weatherford has been hired “to head up outreach efforts to independents and moderate Republicans who know what a danger Donald Trump is to the country if reelected for a second term,” the official said.

Biden and Trump are in a tighter rematch for the White House than in 2020, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling. Biden’s support among voters without a four-year degree is down 10 percentage points from the same period in 2020, the analysis found.

Most national opinion polls are showing a tied race.

Trump has often dismissed members of his party who do not fall in line behind him as “RINOs,” for Republicans in Name Only, for party members he sees as disloyal. The Trump campaign did not return a request for comment.

Both Biden and Trump campaigns scrambled to woo supporters of former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who dropped out of the Republican primary race in March. Haley did not endorse Trump at the time but has since said she would vote for him.

The Biden campaign has held meetings with Haley voters and is placing a “seven-figure ad buy” targeting such voters, the Biden campaign official said. There’s little precedent for large numbers of Republicans to back a Democrat in a presidential election.

Trump, meanwhile, is fundraising in liberal San Francisco, hoping to attract venture capital money from those turned off by Biden’s liberal policies.

The Republican Party has coalesced around Trump this election season, after his repeated lies about having won the 2020 election against Biden, and the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol led by his followers.

Kinzinger and fellow U.S. Representative Liz Cheney were the only two Republicans who joined the the House of Representatives Jan. 6 select committee that investigated the Jan. 6 attack. Both were later censured by the party.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Nandita Bose; Editing by Heather Timmons)