Haley announces presidential campaign, challenging Trump

CHARLESTON, SC (AP) — Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina and United Nations ambassador, announced her candidacy for president on Tuesday, becoming former President Donald Trump’s first major challenger for the Republican nomination. of 2024.

The announcement, delivered in a videomarks an about-face for the ex-Cabinet official Trump, who said two years ago that she would not challenge her former boss for the White House in 2024. But she has changed her mind in recent months, citing, among other things, the country’s economic woes and the need for “generational change,” a nod to Trump’s 76-year-old age.

“You should know that about me. I can’t stand bullies. And when you step back, it hurts them more if you’re wearing heels,” Haley said. “I’m Nikki Haley and I’m running for president.”

Haley, 51, is the first in a long line of Republicans who are expected to kick off the 2024 campaigns in the coming months. Among them are Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina.

President Joe Biden has said he intends to seek re-election in 2024, stalling any scramble for the Democratic nomination.

Haley has regularly bragged about her track record of defying political expectations, saying, “I’ve never lost an election and I’m not going to start now.”

If elected, Haley would be the nation’s first female president and the first American president of Indian descent.

The daughter of Indian immigrants, Haley grew up enduring racist taunts in small-town South Carolina and has long referenced that impact on her personal and political arc.

She was an accountant when she launched her first bid for public office, beating the longest-serving member of the South Carolina House in 2004. Three terms later and with little statewide recognition, Haley has mounted a long-running campaign for governor against a large field of experienced politicians.

She’s racked up a number of high-profile endorsements, including incumbent South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, a tea darling.

With her victory in 2010, Haley became South Carolina’s first female and minority governor – and the youngest in the country at 38. She secured a speaking spot at the 2012 Republican National Convention and gave the GOP response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union in 2016.

The defining moment of Haley’s time as governor came after the 2015 murders of nine black parishioners at a Charleston church by a self-proclaimed white supremacist who had been photographed holding Confederate flags.

For years, Haley had resisted calls to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the Statehouse, even making a rival’s push for its removal a desperate stunt. But after the massacre, and with support from other prominent Republicans, Haley advocated for legislation to remove the flag. He fell less than a month after the murders.

During the 2016 presidential primary, Haley was an early supporter of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and then Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. She finally said she would support the party’s candidate.

Shortly after Trump’s victory, he asked Haley to be his ambassador to the UN, a move that rewarded Henry McMaster, the lieutenant governor who was the nation’s first elected official to support Trump’s campaign. in 2016. Haley’s departure paved the way for McMaster to gain the governorship he had sought, ever since losing a deadly primary to none other than Haley seven years earlier.

With her Senate confirmation, Haley became the first Native American in a presidential cabinet.

During her nearly two-year tenure, Haley occasionally argued with other administration officials while bolstering her own public persona.

One of her most memorable moments as UN ambassador came in 2018 after National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow suggested Haley suffered from a “momentary confusion” when she said Russian sanctions were imminent.

“With all due respect, I’m not confused,” she replied. The first half of the quote became the title of his 2019 memoir.

Her departure from work later that year fueled speculation that she would challenge Trump in 2020 or replace Pence on the ticket. She did neither.

Instead, Haley returned to South Carolina, where she bought a home in the wealthy enclave of Kiawah Island, joined the board of directors of aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co., hit the circuit of the speech and wrote two books, including memoirs.

After the January 6, 2021, uprising, Haley initially expressed doubts about Trump’s political future, but said she would not challenge him in 2024. She later changed course, citing inflation, crime, drugs and a “disarrayed foreign policy” among his reasons. for considering a White House campaign.

During his stop in South Carolina last month, Trump told WIS-TV that Haley called to ask his opinion on running for president. Trump pointed to his earlier promise not to run against him, but said he had made no attempt to stop him.

“She said she would never run against me because I was the greatest president, but people change their minds and they change what’s in their hearts,” Trump said. “So I said, if your heart wants to do it, you have to go do it.”


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


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