Nikki Haley has declared her campaign for president, making her the first significant contender to former president Donald Trump for the Republican nomination in 2024.
The ex-Trump Cabinet official’s decision, made in a video, represents an about-face after she declared two years ago that she would not run against her former boss for the White House. But she changed her mind, citing reasons such as the nation’s economic problems and the need for "generational change" - a reference to Trump’s age of 76 - among other things.
Haley, 51, is the first in a long line of Republicans who are expected to launch 2024 campaigns in the coming months. Among them are Florida governor Ron DeSantis, former vice president Mike Pence, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, and senator Tim Scott of South Carolina.
Here is everything you need to know about her.
Who is Nikki Haley?
Haley is a former South Carolina governor, and was appointed as the 29th United States Ambassador to the United Nations by President Donald Trump, serving from January 2017 until December 2018.
The daughter of Indian immigrants, Haley grew up enduring racist taunts in a small South Carolina town and has long referenced that impact on her personal and political arc.
She was an accountant when she launched her first bid for public office, defeating the longest-serving member of the South Carolina House in 2004. Three terms later and with little statewide recognition, Haley mounted a long-shot campaign for governor against a large field of experienced politicians.
She racked up a number of high-profile endorsements, including from the sitting South Carolina governor, Mark Sanford, and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, a tea party darling. With her 2010 victory, Haley became South Carolina’s first female and minority governor — and the nation’s youngest at 38.
Haley describes herself as pro-life and has supported legislation to restrict abortion in the past, saying “I’m not pro-life because the Republican Party tells me, I’m pro-life because all of us have had experiences of what it means to have one of these special little ones in our life.”
She has also stated that, as a daughter of immigrants, she believes immigration laws should be enforced, and previously voted in favour of a law that requires immigrants to carry documentation at all times proving they are legally in the United States.
What is her relationship with Donald Trump?
During the 2016 Republican presidential primaries Haley was highly dismissive of Donald Trump, instead choosing to endorse political rival, Marco Rubio. She condemned Trump’s failing to denounce Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, and warned that Trump’s rhetoric could one day lead to violent tragedy.
However, when Rubio dropped out of the race, she endorsed the man who would go on to become president, saying he was the “best person” for the job. Her loyalty was rewarded when she was later appointed as the 29th United States Ambassador to the United Nations by Trump, serving from January 2017 until December 2018.
Since her resignation from the post in 2018, Haley has remained supportive of Trump and his administration describing him as a "friend", and declared two years ago that she would never run against her former boss for the White House.
As recently as April 2021, Haley said she would support Trump for President in 2024, but has since changed her mind, citing reasons such as the nation’s economic problems and the need for “generational change” - a reference to Trump’s age of 76 - among other things.
The move has drawn ire from the Trump camp, and in a statement, Taylor Budowich, spokesman for Trump’s super PAC, said Ms Haley was “just another career politician” that “started out as a Never Trumper before resigning to serve in the Trump admin.
“She then resigned early to go rake in money on corporate boards. Now, she’s telling us she represents a ‘new generation’. Sure just looks like more of the same, a career politician whose only fulfilled commitment is to herself.”
Could she become president?
If elected, Haley would be the nation’s first female president and the first US president of Indian descent. She has regularly boasted about her track record of defying political expectations, saying: “I’ve never lost an election, and I’m not going to start now.”
But at the time of writing, bookmakers aren’t so sure. According to Oddschecker, the majority of bookies see the 2024 presidential race coming down to Joe Biden - who has said he intends to seek reelection in 2024, stalling any jostling for the Democratic nomination - and Florida governor, Ron DeSantis.