• Tuesday, May 28, 2024

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Nikki Haley takes on Donald Trump for 2024 US Republican nomination

Haley is the daughter of two Indian immigrants who ran a successful clothing store in a rural part of South Carolina.

Nikki Haley visits “Hannity” at Fox News Channel Studios on January 20, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

Former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley on Tuesday (14) kicked off her campaign for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, a tough challenge as her former boss Donald Trump holds a strong lead in a new Reuters/Ipsos poll.

“I’m Nikki Haley and I’m running for president,” Haley said in a video that her team sent out by email as she joined Trump as the only announced 2024 candidates.

Haley, a former South Carolina governor who served as the UN ambassador under Trump from 2017 to 2018, is set to lay out her campaign plans in a speech on Wednesday (15) in Charleston, South Carolina.

The daughter of two Indian immigrants who ran a successful clothing store in a rural part of South Carolina, Haley, 51, has gained a reputation in the Republican Party as a solid conservative who has the ability to address issues of gender and race in a more credible fashion than many of her peers.

Launching her candidacy more than 20 months ahead of the November 2024 election gives Haley more of a chance to draw attention and raise funds before the Republican field grows in the coming weeks and months. But it also makes her an early target of the combative Trump.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday that found that 4 per cent of registered Republicans supported Haley. Trump received support from 43 per cent of registered Republicans in the poll conducted from Feb. 6-13, while 31 per cent said they supported Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is expected to launch a campaign but has not yet done so.

Other high-profile Republicans looking at a 2024 run include former Vice President Mike Pence, US Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, among others.

“It’s time for a new generation of leadership – to rediscover fiscal responsibility, secure our border and strengthen our country, our pride and our purpose,” Haley said in her video.

She also harked back to her foreign policy experience with a folksy flair.

“China and Russia are on the march. They all think we can be bullied, kicked. You should know this about me: I don’t put up with bullies. And when you kick back, it hurts them more if you’re wearing heels,” she said.

Trump, 76, has seen his campaign – launched in November – get off to a slow start. On Feb. 2 he mocked Haley on his Truth Social platform, noting she had earlier said she would support Trump if he ran in 2024.

“Nikki has to follow her heart, not her honor. She should definitely run!” he wrote.

Trump was defeated in his 2020 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden. Biden is expected to seek re-election in 2024.

Taylor Budowich, head of the pro-Trump Make America Great Again group, dismissed Haley’s announcement.

“Nikki Haley is just another career politician,” he said.

South Carolina is expected to host one of the first Republican nominating primaries in 2024 and will play an important role in picking the eventual candidate.

A day after Haley’s event, Scott will kick off a “listening tour focused on Faith in America” in Charleston, according to a campaign advisory. He will then swing through Iowa, another key early voting state.

AMERICAN INTERESTS

Haley has pitched herself as a stalwart defender of American interests abroad. During her stint as an ambassador to the United Nations, the United States pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, which was signed under Democratic President Barack Obama and was highly unpopular among Republicans.

One Haley associate said she chose to launch her campaign this early to try to grab voters’ attention and shake up the race.

Many key Republican donors and elected officials in South Carolina have been looking for alternatives to Trump amid concerns about his electability, according to conversations in recent weeks with more than a dozen party officials and strategists.

Several prominent Republicans, including Haley and Scott, opted to skip a Trump campaign appearance last month in Columbia that was intended to showcase his support in the state.

Among Haley’s major challenges will be nailing down a consistent message. Even in a field in which most candidates have changed their mind about key issues multiple times, Haley is particularly chameleonic. She has distanced herself from Trump several times, only to later soften her rhetoric, saying he has an important role to play in the Republican Party.

While she has criticized Republicans for baselessly casting doubt on the results of the 2020 election, she campaigned ahead of the 2022 midterm elections on behalf of multiple candidates who supported Trump’s false election fraud claims.

(Reuters)

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