South Carolina

Indian-origin Nikki Haley to take on Trump for 2024 Republican presidential nomination, says report

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will begin her campaign for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination this month, beating her former boss Donald Trump, two sources familiar with her plans said Wednesday.

The move would make her the second declared Republican candidate and could set the stage for a more combative phase of the campaign and potentially put her in the sights of the feisty former US president.

Haley’s campaign sent supporters an email on Wednesday inviting them to an event on February 15 in Charleston. There she will explain her candidacy, the sources said.

South Carolina is expected to host one of the first Republican nominating primary in 2024 and will play an important role in selecting the final candidate.

The daughter of two Indian immigrants who ran a successful clothing business in a rural part of the state, Haley has earned a reputation in the Republican Party as a solid conservative, able to approach gender and race issues with more credibility than many of her peers.

She has also distinguished herself as a staunch defender of American interests abroad, having served as US Ambassador to the United Nations under Trump from 2017-2018. During this time, the United States withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran, which flew the Democratic flag of President Barack Obama and was highly unpopular with Republicans.

A Haley aide said she decided to launch her campaign so early to try to grab voters’ attention and shake up a race hitherto dominated by Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. who has not yet declared whether he will run for office.

Many key Republican donors and elected officials in South Carolina have been looking for alternatives to Trump amid concerns over his eligibility, according to talks over the past few weeks with more than a dozen party officials and strategists.

Several prominent Republicans, including Haley and U.S. Senator Tim Scott, opted to skip a Trump campaign appearance in Columbia Saturday intended to show his support in the state.

Scott, who is often touted as a presidential candidate himself, will start a “Faith in America listening tour” in Charleston the day after Haley’s event, according to a campaign advisor. He will then swing through Iowa, another key state for early voting.

Trump told reporters Saturday that Haley called him to say she was considering a run and that he told her to “go after your heart if you want to run,” according to multiple media reports.

Confederate flag removed

Haley gained national attention in 2015 when, as governor, she signed legislation removing the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina state capital after white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine black churchgoers.

If she won the nomination, Haley would be the first woman to lead the Republican presidential nomination in history, as well as the party’s first nonwhite candidate.

One of their biggest challenges will be capturing a consistent message. Even in an area where most candidates have repeatedly changed their minds on important issues, Haley is particularly chameleon-like.

She has distanced herself from Trump on several occasions, only to later soften her rhetoric and say that he has an important role to play in the Republican Party.

While she has criticized Republicans for unfoundedly questioning the results of the 2020 presidential election, she has championed several candidates who backed Trump’s false claims of voter fraud during the 2022 midterm election.

While she has at times adopted a conciliatory message on racial issues, she often chooses a less moderate tone. In November, she said at a campaign event that Democratic Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock, a Savannah-born black man, should be “deported.”

South Carolina is historically the third state to host the Republican nominating contest and often plays an outsized role in the race. Polls show that Haley, who ruled the state from 2011 to 2017, is popular there.

Trump and DeSantis have both been active in the state.

While Haley is entering the race as an underdog – most national polls show her support in the single digits – she is used to running from behind, having gained a reputation in political circles for coming out on top in hard-to-win races .

A spokesman for Haley declined to comment Wednesday. A spokesman for Scott did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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