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‘She gets it.’ Haley endorses Loeffler at Marietta rally

AJC: ‘She gets it.’ Haley endorses Loeffler at Marietta rally

With a sprawling field of candidates now set, U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler is racing to win over suburban women with the help of a key new backer: former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

The two Republicans stood side-by-side on stage Monday as hundreds of cheering supporters chanted the senator’s name at a Marietta rally that was Loeffler’s first major campaign event since she took office two months ago.

Haley recounted herchoicein 2012 as South Carolina’s governor to pick Tim Scott to fill an open U.S. Senate seat, drawing a line between her decision-making process and the scrutiny of Gov. Brian Kemp’s selection of Loeffler, who was relatively unknown in political circles.

“And right off the bat, she put her marker down on what she wanted to fight for,” Haley said. “But then she went and showed it through her actions. She supported President (Donald) Trump and voted to end the impeachment — and told Congress to get back to work.”

It was perhaps the most significant endorsement yet in the running battle for Republican support between Loeffler and U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, amessy fight that leaves some conservatives concerned it could pave the way for one of three prominent Democratic contenders to take the seat.

“I’m going to have a positive campaign. I’m going to have a positive agenda that betters the lives of all Georgians,” she said. “Now is the time to unite against the radical left. That’s what I’m going to do — I’m going to make sure everyone knows I’m there working for them.”

Part of Loeffler’s appeal to Kemp was a hope that the former financial executive could win over suburban women who have bolted from the party since Trump’s rise, and she’s likely to place a special emphasis on Haley’s endorsement to further that argument.

“She gets it. She lived it. And she’s going to put that in place in Washington,” Haley said of Loeffler. “The president’s style is not Kelly’s style, right? But at the end of the day, they both agree on the same results: how we get wages up, how we get unemployment down, how do we make retirements fatter.”

Attendees of the rally, held in the cramped confines of the Cobb County GOP headquarters, said in interviews they were worried about a damaging fight between the two Republicans, who are among 21 candidates in the November free-for-all. But several also expressed a hope that a surge of support from women could put Loeffler over the top.

“She’ll be able to do that, but I don’t think it’s her primary quality,” said Suzi Voyles of Sandy Springs, who heads an anti-abortion group that supports Loeffler. “Her business acumen is really what puts her over the top, and that’s what’s going to really impress other women.”

Lynne Garwood came to the event a skeptic, more drawn to Collins, a four-term congressman she’s gotten to know over the years through Republican advocacy work. She left the rally a few hours later a Loeffler convert.

“Previously, I thought she was a little soft-spoken. I thought she didn’t have a lot of conviction. But this morning changed that,” Garwood said. “I was really proud of everything she said. Women are tougher on women than men are, so if she won me over, that’s saying something.”