Washington: Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina Governor and Donald Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, plans to announce that she’s running for president.
She’d become the first Republican to officially challenge her former boss for the 2024 GOP nomination.
Haley is preparing to declare her candidacy in Charleston, South Carolina, on Feb. 15, according to a person familiar with the plans. That sets her on a collision course with Trump, who announced a comeback campaign in November and who just visited South Carolina this past weekend.
The daughter of Indian immigrant parents has long indicated that she harbours presidential aspirations but her candidacy also presents another glaring indication of Trump’s waning grip on the party.
In April 2021, Haley said that she wouldn’t run if Trump did.
An Emerson College poll conducted between Jan. 19 through Jan. 21 showed Trump as the presumptive frontrunner in a potential 2024 field, at 55%.
His next closest challenger, at 29%, was Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, widely considered to be Trump’s strongest challenger should he follow through on a widely expected White House run.
Some polls show DeSantis ahead of Trump. The Florida governor has carved out a lane within the GOP as a possible alternative to the former president, espousing some of his policies that are popular among conservatives, sans the baggage.
Former Vice-President Mike Pence polled at 6% followed by Haley at 3% in the survey. Other candidates thought to be possible Republican contenders include former Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem.
Pompeo recently released a memoir, typically a telltale sign of an impending presidential run.
The Post and Courier of Charleston earlier reported Haley’s plan to announce her candidacy.
In an interview with South Carolina’s WIS-TV on Saturday, Trump pointed out Haley’s assertion that she wouldn’t run if he became a candidate and said that he had recently spoken with her because she wanted his “opinion.”
He added that he told her “if your heart wants to do it you have to go do it.”
Haley was Trump’s ambassador to the UN for two years after being elected to two terms as South Carolina’s governor.
In a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, in the fall of 2021, she urged Republicans to return to the standards of Reagan and his presidency.
While the late president was considered irrelevant in some circles, she said, “dismissing the lessons of Reagan makes no more sense than dismissing the lessons of Lincoln or Washington.”
She said America was afflicted by a “plague of self-doubt” that was “more damaging than any virus.” She condemned critical race theory but also acknowledged that the nation’s “founders weren’t saints.”
Haley highlighted her own narrative, of a child of immigrants who plunged into politics, as an example of what the US has to offer.
Asked about her political future in an interview with Fox News in January, she said: “First, look at does the current situation push for new leadership? The second question is am I that person who could be that new leader?”
She then ticked off a litany of issues from domestic and foreign policy to inflation. “All of these things warrant the fact that yes we need to go in a new direction. And can I be that leader? Yes. I think I can be that leader,” Haley said.