Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley declares bid for 2024 US presidential election

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Haley campaigning for Glenn Youngkin, then a candidate for Virginia governor, on July 14, 2021.
Image: Glenn Youngkin.

Last Tuesday, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley announced her intention to seek the Republican nomination for the 2024 United States presidential election.

Haley, a former ambassador to the United Nations, is to challenge her then-boss, Donald Trump, the previous president. However, Florida governor Ron DeSantis; US Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina; Mike Pence, Trump's vice president; and Mike Pompeo, Trump's secretary of state, are expected to announce runs, according to Politico. Haley has lagged behind Trump and DeSantis in hypothetical opinion polls for the presidential election.

In her Twitter announcement video, "Strong & Proud", Haley says: "Republicans have lost the popular vote in seven out of the last eight presidential elections. That has to change."

She added, "[US President] Joe Biden's record is abysmal, but that shouldn't come as a surprise. The Washington, [D.C.] establishment has failed us over and over and over again. [...] It's time for a new generation of leadership [...] I'm Nikki Haley, and I'm running for president."

On Wednesday, Haley held her opening rally in Charleston, South Carolina. According to Politico, the event was subdued, in contrast to Trump's populist, energetic speeches.

Haley's campaign logo.
Image: Nikki Haley for President.

Taylor Budowich, spokesperson for Trump's super PAC, Make America Great Again Inc., declared Haley "just another career politician", stating that she "started out as a Never Trumper before resigning to serve in the Trump admin[istration]".

"Now, she's telling us she represents a 'new generation'. Sure just looks like more of the same, a career politician whose only fulfilled commitment is to herself," said Budowich.

The 51-year-old Haley contrasted her age with Biden, 80, and Trump, 76, calling for "mandatory mental competency tests for politicians over 75 years" and the rejection of "the stale ideas and faded names of the past." She continued: "America is not past our prime [...] It’s just that our politicians are past theirs."

Nikki Haley was born Nimrata Nikki Randhawa in Bamberg, South Carolina, to Sikh immigrants from India. In her announcement video, images of Haley's family appear while she says, "I was the proud daughter of Indian immigrants: not Black, not white. I was different."

If nominated, Haley would be the first female and first non-white Republican presidential nominee and, if elected, the first female president and first of Indian descent in the US.

Haley, who has never lost a race, first ran for office in 2004, defeating the most senior South Carolina state representative. In 2010, a 38-year-old Haley became the first non-white female governor of a US state.

Haley addressed the 2012 Republican National Convention, and won reelection as governor in 2014. She delivered the Republican rebuttal to then-President Barack Obama's 2016 State of the Union address.

In 2015, after a self-proclaimed white supremacist shot and killed black churchgoers in Charleston, Haley went to the victims' funerals and successfully lobbied the state legislature to remove a Confederate States of America flag from above the state capitol. Haley denounced Trump's refusal to condemn the Ku Klux Klan during his 2016 presidential campaign. In 2017, however, she expressed support for Trump, by then the president.

Trump appointed Haley to be the US ambassador to the United Nations in 2017. During her tenure, the US withdrew from UNESCO and the UN Human Rights Council, claiming the organizations were advocating anti-Israel policies. In late 2018, Haley resigned; neither she nor the administration provided a reason. Trump said her departure was planned six months before, coinciding with a public disagreement over sanctions on Russia.