Nikki Haley formally entered the race for the White House on Wednesday, portraying herself as a change candidate, attacking President Joe Biden and largely sidestepping any mention of her controversial former boss, Donald Trump.
What You Need To Know
- Nikki Haley formally entered the race for the White House on Wednesday, portraying herself as a change candidate, attacking President Joe Biden and largely sidestepping any mention of her controversial former boss, Donald Trump
- A day after announcing her presidential bid in a video, the former United States ambassador to the United Nations launched her campaign with a rally at the Charleston Visitor Center in her home state of South Carolina
- One overarching theme of Haley’s speech was her belief that the U.S. needs fresh leadership; She attacked Biden on inflation, education, crime, drugs, border security, national security and more
- A Monmouth University poll last week found that just 1% of Republicans said they'd like to see Haley win the nomination, fourth among possible candidates and well behind Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who each received 33%.
A day after announcing her presidential bid in a video, the former United States ambassador to the United Nations launched her campaign with a rally at the Charleston Visitor Center in her home state of South Carolina. The crowd held campaign signs while occasionally breaking into chants of "Nikki! Nikki!"
“I'm a grateful American citizen who knows our best days are yet to come if we unite and fight to save our country,” said Haley, who served as South Carolina’s governor from 2011 to 2017 before joining the Trump administration. “I have devoted my life to this fight, and I'm just getting started. For a strong America, for a proud America, I am running for president of the United States of America.”
One overarching theme of Haley’s speech was her belief that the U.S. needs fresh leadership.
“We won't win the fight for the 21st century if we keep trusting politicians from the 20th century,” she said.
Later, Haley asserted: “America is not past our prime. It's just that our politicians are past theirs.”
Biden was her main — but not only — target, attacking the president on inflation, education, crime, drugs, border security, national security and more.
“Joe Biden isn't leading from behind,” she said. “He's not leading at all.”
Haley did not directly criticize Trump — she said his name only once, when mentioning that he appointed her as U.N. ambassador. But she did have a message for Republicans, noting the party has lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections — which includes Trump’s runs in 2016 and 2020.
“Our cause is right, but we have failed to win the confidence of a majority of Americans,” Haley said. “Well, that ends today. If you're tired of losing, put your trust in a new generation. And if you want to win — not just as a party but as a country — stand with me.”
Trump announced his candidacy in November. Haley is the first Republican to challenge Trump, potentially putting her in the crosshairs of a former president who relishes attacking his foes. Trump, however, said in a social media post earlier this month that Haley “has to follow her heart, not her honor. She should definitely run!”
The Trump campaign on Wednesday sent out an email with links to past articles and tweets about Haley calling Hillary Clinton as an inspiration, supporting cuts to Social Security, opposing some of Trump's immigration policies and flip-flopping on whether she'd run against Trump.
If elected, Haley would become the nation’s first female president. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she also would become the first woman and first person of color to receive the Republican nomination.
Haley described her vision for the country if elected, one that would end inflation, build an economy that works for everyone, allow parents to choose their children’s schools, support police, crack down on crime, and stop the flow of migrants and drugs across the border. She also vowed to restore confidence in elections by requiring voter IDs, impose term limits on Congress and require mental competency tests for politicians over 75 years old, another veiled shot at Biden, 80.
“Realizing this vision won't be easy,” Haley said. “It will take an unparalleled level of commitment from all of us. It requires faith and a willingness to move past the status quo, and it will require doing some things we've never done, like sending a tough-as-nails woman to the White House.”
She also accused Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris of fueling self-loathing across the U.S.
“Every day, we're told America is flawed, rotten and full of hate,” Haley said. “Joe and Kamala even say America's racist. Nothing could be further from the truth. The American people know that. My immigrant parents know better. A take it from me, the first minority female governor in history, America is not a racist country.”
Haley acknowledged she faces an uphill fight to win the GOP nomination, but she said: “I've been underestimated before. That's always fun. And I've been shaking up the status quo my entire life.”
A Monmouth University poll last week found that just 1% of Republicans said they'd like to see Haley win the nomination, fourth among possible candidates and well behind Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who each received 33%.
Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., made the only substantive mention of Trump during the rally. Norman announced his endorsement of Haley earlier Wednesday and then introduced her. Norman was among the 147 congressional Republicans who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election results and sent a text message to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows urging Trump to declare “Marshall Law” [sic] three days before Biden’s inauguration.
Norman said Wednesday that in 2016 “Trump was exactly what the Republican Party and our country needed” and called him “one of the great leaders of all-time.” But, Norman added, Haley has “those very qualities desperately needed in America today.”