Nikki Haley Running for President

Someone has stepped up to challenge former President Trump.

Charleston Post and Courier (“It’s official: Nikki Haley running for president. Formal announcement Feb. 15“):

Cementing what has been in the works for months, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will formally announce she is running for president and will seek the Republican nomination for her party’s 2024 ticket, The Post and Courier has learned.

According to an invitation soon going out to her backers, Haley’s advertised “special announcement” will come Feb. 15 at the The Shed at the Charleston Visitor Center, a downtown gathering spot that could draw hundreds of supporters into the heart of the city’s tourism district.

The confirmation she is entering the race came Jan. 31 from a member of Haley’s inner circle.


Haley famously said earlier she would not seek to challenge Trump if he ran again, but her message has since shifted to say the country needs to look toward a different path.

“It’s time for a new generation,” she telegraphed on Twitter in recent days. “It’s time for new leadership. And it’s time to take our country back. America is worth the fight — and we’re just getting started.”

During an interview on Fox News with Bret Baier last week, Haley signaled her clearest indication yet that she was readying a White House bid.

“When you’re looking at a run for president, you look at two things. You first look at does the current situation push for new leadership? The second question is, ‘Am I that person that could be that new leader?’”

Answering those two questions, Haley said: “Yes, we need to go in a new direction. And can I be that leader? Yes. I think I can be that leader.”

Haley, 51, does not have far to travel for her announcement. She has been a Charleston County resident and registered voter since leaving her United Nations ambassador post in 2018, living with her family on Kiawah Island. 

She has also boasted in recent times that she has never lost a political race, including from her days in the S.C. House of Representatives or from her two runs for governor, an office she held from 2011-17.

WaPo (“Haley plans to announce presidential run, as GOP race starts slowly“) adds:

Haley could release a video signaling her decision as soon as this week, a strategy, as described by multiple people briefed on the plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly, intended to drive attendance and enthusiasm for an in-person announcement event in the coming weeks.


Haley’s decision to lean into the race bucks the more cautious strategy adopted by most other potential candidates, who have decided there is no need to rush their preparations. Advisers to these Republicans, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations, said there is wariness about becoming an early target of former president Trump.


“There’s no benefit to being in early,” said David Urban, a former Trump adviser who is friendly with multiple would-be 2024 candidates. “You don’t want to be in the ring getting banged on by the former president in a one-on-one. There’s no reason anyone has to get in right now. There’s no urgency for anyone. Everyone is sitting and waiting.”

While there’s something to not announcing too early, I like Haley’s strategy here. If the road to the nomination goes through Trump, signaling that you’re not afraid to take him on is crucial.

She’s in the ideal age range at 51 and she would be the party’s first woman candidate. With experience as a state governor and UN Ambassador, she’s well qualified. Heck, she’s a child of immigrants and person of color.

Policy-wise, she’s a pretty mainstream Republican. She was slow to move against the Confederate flag flying on capitol grounds but ultimately did the right thing. And she actually stood up against an anti-trans “bathroom bill” in her state. Alas, she’s also demagoguing critical race theory.

While I don’t know that anybody can beat Trump with Republican primary voters, I’d say she’s well-positioned. She is arguably the senior-most official who served in his administration with their reputation largely unscathed. She’s managed to deftly position herself against some of his more extreme policies without alienating him.

Indeed, Trump seems fine with her running, according to the Post and Courier report:

It also appears she was alerting Trump in the past week of her leanings.

During his weekend campaign swing that included a stop at the S.C. Statehouse, Trump told national reporters he recently received a phone call from Haley. Trump said Haley told him “she’d like to consider” a 2024 run of her own.

“I talked to her for a little while. I said, ‘Look, you know, go by your heart if you want to run,’” Trump told reporters, adding that he would welcome the competition.

“She called me and said she’d like to consider it, and I said you should do it.”

Trump then reportedly told Haley, “Go by your heart if you want to run.”

She would have had a really strong shot in the GOP of 2012; I’ve largely given up predicting what post-Trump Republican primary voters will do.

FILED UNDER: 2024 Election, US Politics, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Kylopod says:

    Heck, she’s an immigrant and person of color.

    She’s a South Carolina native. Her parents are immigrants.

  2. Barry says:

    Kylopod, that doesn’t mean squat to the Base.

    James, I’m filing this under Pompeo and every other third tier grifter pretending that they have a snowballs’s chance in h*ll.

  3. Kylopod says:


    Kylopod, that doesn’t mean squat to the Base.

    I never said it did. I was just correcting a factual mistake in James’ post.

  4. As I recall, she polls in the single digits. Not saying that can’t change, but the hill is a tall one to climb.

  5. James Joyner says:

    @Kylopod: Fixed. Indeed, she wouldn’t be eligible to run if she were. Running on way too little sleep this morning.

  6. EddieInCA says:

    I ask this sincerely.

    Who is her constituency?

    Who is clamoring for a Nikki Haley run for president? What does she offer that isn’t offered by any run of the mill Republican not named Trump?

    The egos of these effing people is amazing. The only question I have is does she even make it to Iowa?

  7. wr says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: “As I recall, she polls in the single digits”

    Yes, but I’m sure she’ll soar once she announces her campaign slogan, the very one that has propelled her through her entire career: “I’m a soulless hack, so I can be exactly what whoever is standing in front of me wants me to be.”

  8. Sleeping Dog says:

    The question is, does she have the guts to go right at trump, with an attack based on his well known weaknesses and then take the return fire. In the past she’s mildly criticized him, but then retracted those statements.

  9. Tony W says:

    Trump is understandably angry about this, now he will have to learn how to pronounce Nimrata, and consult a focus group of 3rd graders for insults that go with that name.

  10. ptfe says:

    @EddieInCA: Yes, well, the ego of anyone running for prez has to be pretty inflated.

    Nikki Haley offers protection against the “Republicans hate brown people” argument. That’s basically it. She’s an pretty standard rich-people-are-better/anti-tax Republican who, afaict, offers no policy beyond that. On the plus side, she’s marginally less abusive toward minorities, since that seems to be (for her) a low-cost “moderate” position. On the down side, she’s shown rampant spinelessness in service to party.

  11. CSK says:

    The consensus over at is that Haley is a traitorous witch who bachstabbed the G.O.A.T. president.

  12. JohnSF says:

    I have a horrid feeling it’s going to be 2015/16 all over again.
    Umpteen Republics stand, most of them no-hopers, along with Trump. The others take turns knocking lumps out of each other but leaving Trump alone.
    Trump makes up various nicknames, teases, taunts, rope-a-dopes the media again, gets the MAGA crowd worked up at rallies.
    Most of the pack drop out and most of those endorse Trump, if they hope for a future in the Republican Party.
    Trump finishes off the couple remaining in May, who also quite likely endorse Trump.

  13. steve says:

    Meh. Probably doing it for two reasons. Mostly as a shot at VP. Secondly, in case Trump drops dead/gets really sick, statistically possible at his age or one of the legal entanglements causes issues. She will be one of several candidates who are running while making it a point to walk gingerly around Trump for fear of aggravating his committed core. A lot like 2016.


  14. Kylopod says:


    Nikki Haley offers protection against the “Republicans hate brown people” argument.

    Did you see Lindsey Graham gushing over Herschel Walker a couple months ago? His entire argument for supporting him seemed to be that he was black and a Republican—and that was amazing and would instantly destroy the libs. I am not remotely exaggerating, that’s what Lindsey was saying; he was practically in tears over it. One thing I didn’t hear was a case for supporting Walker on the content of his character. Instead, look at my African American.

    This is the Republican Party today—they’re stuck in racism defenses that sounded lame over 50 years ago, but they never notice because they’ve got a baby-brained understanding of the subject. If you so much as utter the word “tokenism,” they’d just stare at you blankly. They don’t even know the word, let alone the concept.

  15. ptfe says:

    @Kylopod: “Some of my best friends are black!” is still something said seriously among Republicans. It’s taken as a given that knowing a person with certain characteristics makes you knowledgeable about them. Lack of self-reflection and lack of empathy are the brand.

  16. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    The woman who doesn’t go by her given name swears there is no systematic racism.
    Sure, I would vote for someone with that much character.

  17. Kathy says:

    To quote Roosevelt, We have nothing to fear but a second Cheeto term.

    The key to beating Benito in the primaries is to attack him mercilessly, relentlessly, all day every day. Such an attack would need to come from someone further to the right (wrong) deep end of he loony, authoritarian, deranged religious wing of the deranged party.

    Florida Man qualifies, but he has yet to attack the Orange Florida Man.

  18. Argon says:

    Most likely running for Vice President and trying to rebuild lost credibility as a’very serious person’.

  19. drj says:

    I don’t think Nikki Haley is running for president. She’s probably raising her national profile, which is harder to do if one is running in for statewide office (Senate, governor) or even something more local (House).

    Worst case: people won’t forget her for another couple of years. Best case: VP slot (and who knows what will happen next) – or perhaps even top of the ticket if Trump croaks/ends up in jail.

  20. Kylopod says:

    @ptfe: When Hugo Black was nominated for the Supreme Court in the 1930s and his Klan past came out, he said without irony, “Some of my best friends are Jews.” It was then pointed out to him that that sentence was the title of a book published that very year. Even back then a lot of people understood it was a snort-worthy type of comment used by bigots.

  21. MarkedMan says:


    Nikki Haley offers protection against the “Republicans hate brown people” argument.

    In fairness, there are two ways to invoke that protection, at least in Republican minds (and a fair number of Democrats and Independents). The first is the the Hershel Walker method, where you put forward a minority who fulfills every negative stereotype and therefore doesn’t challenge your prejudices, for a role where they can be told what to do and kept from doing any lasting harm. The second is to put forward someone who agrees with Republican principals and will accept the race and minority baiting of the party as a whole, but who is legitimately intelligent and capable. Haley, whatever her other faults, falls into that second category.

  22. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan: The thing is, Asians aren’t commonly stereotyped as unintelligent. They’re the “model minority,” used as a cudgel against black people. Of course, there’s still plenty of racist stereotyping of Asians by Republicans, and South Asians in particular—remember when she first ran for governor and a rival called her a “r**head”?

  23. gVOR08 says:

    As I’ve observed before, judging by the number of people who do it, there must be good money in hopeless runs for president.

    And what is it with names? Barack Hussein Obama used his real name, but Piyush Jindal, Willard Romney, even Trumpf, and now Nimrata?

  24. CSK says:

    To be fair, Romney’s always gone by his middle name, Mitt. Lots of people do, including me. 🙂

  25. JohnMc says:

    @steve: Well, Margerie T Green has also had some VP boosting so MS Haley could be thought one of those ‘reasonable republican’ alternatives.

  26. MarkedMan says:


    Asians aren’t commonly stereotyped as unintelligent

    While true at a certain level, I can vouch for the fact that to large segment of the population, skin color is skin color, end of story.

  27. Kylopod says:


    While true at a certain level, I can vouch for the fact that to large segment of the population, skin color is skin color, end of story.

    Well, maybe not in a literal sense in Haley’s case, as she’s rather light-skinned, and I’d be willing to bet she’s gotten a significant amount of votes from good ol boys and gals who had no idea of her Indian Sikh background. But that rival who made that racist comment about her all those years ago is a reminder that Sikhs have long been rolled together in bigoted Americans’ minds with Muslims. That I suspect is the racist narrative—explicit or not—that will be used against her by the MAGA crowd.

  28. James Joyner says:


    And what is it with names? Barack Hussein Obama used his real name, but Piyush Jindal, Willard Romney, even Trumpf, and now Nimrata?

    Lots of people go by middle names, nicknames, or whatever. I remember that GHW Bush sneered at Pete DuPont by calling him “Pierre,” his given name. She’s apparently been “Nikki” since she was a kid; I think Jindal was “Bobby” growing up as well. Hell, Obama went by “Barry” into his college years, switching to Barack once he decided to embrace his absentee father’s heritage. (And, despite John Oliver making “Drumpf” a thing, the family name Americanized well before DJT was born. That’s not uncommon, either.)

    @daryl and his brother darryl:

    The woman who doesn’t go by her given name swears there is no systematic racism.

    If true, certainly a better argument.

  29. Kathy says:


    I have a horrid feeling it’s going to be 2015/16 all over again.

    Going to be?

    Somehow, despite having already done it, there’s still the impression Benito cannot be elected village idiot if he ran unopposed and bribed all the village to vote for him. Even in 2020 it seemed inconceivable that Biden might lose to him.

    This is an interesting bias, where the first impression has a lasting effect even after it’s been proven wrong, and even as you’ve experienced it to be wrong.

  30. al Ameda says:

    Yes, Nimrata Nikki Randhawa Haley. And I do wonder what would happen to potential Republican support if she decided to go by her first name – Nimrata?

    She would probably get zero crossover support. Why? (1) She still supports Trump, and (2) she’s a South Carolina Republican. Once she signed on to fealty to Trump the idea that she appeals to ‘independents’ started melting away.

  31. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner: I tend to side that going by “Nikki” is a nothingburger, if ironic. In my generation, most people went by one or more nicknames. Beth for Elizabeth. Jan for Janet. But why is Bob = Robert? Or Peg = Madge = Margaret? And I know plenty of people who went by their middle names since they were toddlers. Is Nikki Haley’s use of a diminutive any different from Jimmy Carter’s?

  32. Lounsbury says:

    @Kathy: yes, I think this is right, certainly tip-toeing will fail. Trump handles direct confrontation rather poorly.

  33. CSK says:


    Well, Trump just called DeSantis “a RINO globalist,” as well as “disloyal,” so we’ll see how that goes.

  34. JohnSF says:

    I just thought of a possible upside-down scenario to my earlier: this time Trump sees a potential challenger for his crucial MAGA base i.e. De Santis, and instead of hanging back from the knife fight, goes all in to destroy.
    That is going to have to mean De Santis has to fold or fight.
    Maybe they can take each other out?

    And that opinion is probably worth a bit less than the money you paid for it. 🙂

  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @al Ameda:

    And I do wonder what would happen to potential Republican support if she decided to go by her first name – Nimrata?

    Undoubtedly, Trump would start referring to her as Nimroda, but that was just too easy to predict.

    And as a call out to the DOJ: Last call gentlemen. We’ll be closing soon, so finish your drinks.

  36. JohnSF says:

    Peg/Peggy devives from a “baby talk” version of Meg/Meggy as a contraction for Margaret.
    Same as Polly came from Molly which came from Mary.

  37. CSK says:

    @JohnSF: I don’t know if they’ll take one another out; one will probably still be standing. That’s likely to be Trump. No one goes as low as he does.

  38. Joe says:

    Is Nikki Haley’s use of a diminutive any different from Jimmy Carter’s?

    As I recall, MarkedMan, Jimmy Carter had the additional baggage of being James Earl Carter. James Earl might have been an associational problem with some of his targeted constituents.

  39. Fog says:

    @JohnSF: Absolutely. The “crucial MAGA base” is made up of the hardcore racists, the type of people who have run the show in the southeast for centuries, and have succeeded in exporting their activities nationwide. In the past, these people have never shown any hesitation to kill as many people as they need to to maintain their privilege. In the bigger picture they represent the “brown shirts” of the anti-democracy Right. But they wouldn’t exist without the support of a substantial number of our richest citizens. But the financiers of the attempt to destroy representative government need someone to ride herd over the brown shirts, to make sure their anger is directed against the proper targets. The man who has the loyalty of the militias is still Trump, but DeSantis is challenging him for that loyalty. He is doing it with utterly ridiculous measures to restrict intellectual freedom in the universities in Florida, and attempting to destroy public education. He also panders to the wackdoodle right who think COVID vaccines are a gubmint plot to murder them. All of this would blow up in a national election, but he’s not worried about that. If he becomes Fuhrer of the Christian Nationalists, he figures he won’t have to worry about elections going forward. Combining the wealth of the uber rich with a violent militia to overthrow a democracy? It’s been done.

  40. Ken_L says:

    Trump cultists loathe Haley with a passion because she betrayed him after 9/11. She has as little chance of winning the primary as Pence, ditto of being Trump’s running mate. That’s even without her handicaps in the reactionary wing of the party of being the wrong gender/color/religious background.