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US: Republican Nikki Haley announces 2024 run for president

February 14, 2023

The former US ambassador to the UN announced her bid for the Republican nomination, entering the race against Donald Trump. In a video statement, she described herself as the proud daughter of Indian immigrants.

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks during an event sponsored by Turning Point USA last November
Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is the second candidate on the Republican side to announce a run for the presidency in 2024 after Donald TrumpImage: Meg Kinnard/AP/picture alliance

Nikki Haley, a former governor of South Carolina turned US ambassador to the UN under former President Donald Trump, announced that she is running to secure the Republican nomination for president in 2024.

"I'm Nikki Haley and I'm running for president," she said in a video statement.

The 51-year-old described her biography as one of a proud daughter of Indian immigrants who became governor in her home state of South Carolina.

The video, shot in the town of Bamberg, South Carolina, where she was born, sought to cast the former governor turned ambassador as a younger alternative to Trump, who is currently 76 years old.

"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," she said in the video announcement.

What did she say in the announcement?

For weeks, Haley had teased a "big announcement" on February 15, but in the end she announced a day earlier on Valentine's Day.

She is hoping to cast herself as an agent of change who is capable of revitalizing the conservative party and the nation. Haley pointed to her immigrant background, suggesting a post-racial future for the US is possible.

In her video statement, Haley said, "I was the proud daughter of Indian immigrants. Not black, not white," before adding, "I was different."

She noted, "My mom would always say, 'Your job is not to focus on the differences, but the similarities.'"

Haley used her personal background to address racial tensions in the US, but set herself in opposition to criticism over systemic racism in the country.

"They say the promise of freedom is just made up. Some think our ideas are not just wrong, but racist, and evil. Nothing could be further from the truth."

She also criticized current US President Joe Biden, calling the Democrat's record "abysmal," and sought to frame his administration as elitist. "The Washington establishment has failed us over and over and over again," she said.

Haley spoke briefly on geopolitics, casting China as a country committing "genocide" against an ethnic minority, declaring Russia was "on the march," and saying that Iran was committing "murder" against its citizens who disagreed with the country's clerical regime.

"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.

What more do we know about Haley?

Haley's rising star came with a reputation as being a plain-spoken conservative. In the Trump administration, she was often cast as the face of diversity as a woman of Indian heritage in a Cabinet that was largely white and male.

Her time in the Trump administration ended in 2018 and since then she has alternatively praised the Trump administration and admonished him for his personal behavior. She was known to push back against him when she served in his Cabinet.

Haley has criticized Trump's efforts to subvert the outcome of the 2020 election but in the 2022 midterm election she did campaign for several candidates who denied the 2020 results.

Who else is seeking the Republican nomination?

So far only Trump and Haley have formally announced their bids. Some analysts expect her announcement will trigger others, as more potential candidates are expected to announce in the coming weeks and months.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is widely believed to be planning to compete. Former Vice President Mike Pence is also expected to make a run for the presidency.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday showed Trump leading by a double-digit margin over his closest rival, DeSantis. Trump had the support of 43% of registered Republicans, whereas DeSantis trailed with 31%, Pence with 7% and Haley only picked up 4%.

The poll was conducted from February 6-13 with a sample of 1,465 registered Republicans nationwide, and a 3% margin of error.

Other Republicans who are expected to make an announcement include US Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu and the former governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson.

ar/rs (AFP, Reuters)