Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley is leaning toward a primary challenge against former U.S. president Donald Trump – setting up a potentially explosive “First in the South” presidential primary in 2024.
Haley did not announce her presidential bid, but she made it abundantly clear her prior promise not to campaign against Trump is no longer on the table.
“When you’re looking at a run for president, you look at two things,” Haley told Bret Baier of Fox News. “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?’ That yes, we need to go in a new direction.”
Haley’s answers to those questions?
“Yes, I think I can be that leader,” she said. “I was as governor – I took on a hurting state with double-digit unemployment and we made it the beast of the southeast. As ambassador … I took on the world when they tried to disrespect us and I think I showed what I’m capable of at the United Nations.”
“So do I think I could be that leader? Yes, but we are still working through things and we’ll figure it out,” Haley continued. I’ve never lost a race. I said that then I still say that now. I’m not going to lose now, but stay tuned.”
Here is the excerpt …
Haley had previously indicated she would take the 2022 holiday season to make a decision on a possible presidential bid, telling a crowd at her alma mater last November “if we decide to get into it, we’ll put 1,000 percent in and we’ll finish it.”
Haley’s presumptive presidential bid is an about-face from her prior proclamations.
Asked point blank by Kinnard whether she would support another Trump presidential bid, Haley responded “yes.”
Trump announced his candidacy last November and is headed to South Carolina later this month to unveil his 2024 leadership team – a slate which includes governor Henry McMaster and U.S. senator Lindsey Graham.
Asked about her flip-flop, Haley said she changed her mind because “the survival of America matters.”
She also intimated that Trump – who turns 77 this spring – is too old for the job.
“When you’re looking at the future of America, I think it’s time for new generational change,” Haley told Baier. “I don’t think you need to be 80 years old to go be a leader in D.C. I think we need a young generation to come in, step up, and really start fixing things.”
Haley’s problem is that as of this writing, the representative of the “young generation” with all the momentum in the GOP nominating fight is Florida governor Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis has not announced a presidential bid – or even an exploratory committee – but GOP voters are clearly gravitating toward him as the top alternative to Trump.
According to the latest composite polling data from Real Clear Politics, DeSantis had the backing of 30.5 percent of the GOP primary electorate. That’s nearly ten times the level of support Haley was receiving (3.5 percent). Trump was backed by 44.3 percent of the GOP base, but his margin over DeSantis has evaporated in the aftermath of an underwhelming GOP performance in the 2022 midterm elections.
Does her anemic early polling mean Haley’s presumptive candidacy should be written off? Absolutely not.
“I have taken a dim view of Haley over the years, but I have never – and would never – write her off,” I noted last summer. “Her identitypolitik, financial backing and neocon support are a potent cocktail at the national level – one which has kept her in the mix despite multiple unforced errors and an underlying lack of consistency.”
Obviously, this author has quite the history with Haley – but that hasn’t stopped me from objectively assessing her ascendancy on the national stage. Nor will it stop me from continuing to assess her prospects objectively moving forward.
“Commentators who rely on anything less than their best judgment and their most compelling arguments – or who inconsistently apply these to the subjects they cover – won’t keep their audiences very long,” I noted in a column on Haley two months ago. “Nor will they maintain the respect of their audiences very long.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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