Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is emerging as an early contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, already stumping in New Hampshire and marketing her brand to appeal to conservative voters.
Haley, the U.N. ambassador in the Trump administration, just wrapped up a trip to the Granite State, campaigning in Derry for congressional candidate Matt Mowers and courting key activists.
“If we don’t win in ’22 there will be no ’24,” she said. “So that’s why we’re around the country trying to make sure we do that. I don’t have to make a decision until the first of next year, but I can tell you I’ve never lost a race and I’m not going to start now. I’ll put 1,000% into it and finish it. If there’s not a place for me I’m going to fight for this country until my last breath.”
Haley is trying to walk the fine line of appealing to Trump’s base without allying herself to the former president. She needs to carve out her own brand of Republicanism if she wants to be a factor in the 2024 race.
But she has had a contentious relationship with Trump, and that could be a big problem if Trump runs or tries to dictate who the next nominee will be.
“We need to acknowledge he (Trump) let us down,” Haley said back in February 2021, shortly after the Jan. 6 Capitol rioting. “He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that ever happen again.”
Haley went even further, saying she was outraged at Trump’s treatment of Vice President Mike Pence for presiding over the electoral vote count in Congress.
“When I tell you I’m angry, it’s an understatement,” she said. “Like, I’m disgusted by it.”
She also predicted Trump would not be “in the picture” in 2024 because “he’s fallen so far.”
Yikes. Those are fighting words to Trump, which he won’t ever forget. And they could be problematic to say the least if Haley tries to court Trump loyalists.
Maybe that’s why earlier this year Haley seemed to walk back some of the criticism, slamming Pence for going after Trump in a speech to conservative activists.
“I think he did what he thought was right on that day,” Haley said on Fox News. “But I will always say, I’m not a fan of Republicans going after Republicans.”
Haley was roasted for those comments because she herself has attacked fellow Republicans like Trump — a fact which the former president was keenly aware of.
“Well, every time she criticizes me, she uncriticizes me about 15 minutes later,” Trump told Vanity Fair.
Haley has been a fixture on Fox News in the past few months, which has given her a platform other GOP candidates would want.
And a woman of color who has never lost a race for elective office — twice elected in conservative South Carolina — she isn’t shy about reminding others of her political attributes.
That confidence will be sorely tested if Haley jumps into the treacherous waters of 2024.
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