Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley officially launched her 2024 presidential candidacy in her home state on Wednesday, cheerleading for a new generation of American exceptionalism rooted in outdated imperialist dogma and an opportunistic identity-politik shtick.
Oh, and don’t forget those high heels … which Haley has repeatedly stated are for “kicking,” not for making a fashion statement.
Will any of this campy conventional politicking translate into relevance on the national stage? Or has Haley’s ideological cocktail arrived a decade too late at a “Republican” party which – while clearly souring on former U.S. president Donald Trump – isn’t quite ready to repudiate the anti-establishment populism he has unleashed?
“I stand before you as the daughter of immigrants, as a proud wife of a combat veteran and as the mom of two amazing children,” Haley told a crowd of supporters in Charleston, S.C. “I’ve served as governor of the great state of South Carolina and as America’s ambassador to the United Nations. And above all else, I’m a grateful American citizen who knows our best days are yet to come, if we unite and fight to save our country. 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.”
Haley channeled Cold Warriors from decades past as she pitched her version of “morning in America,” vowing to eradicate socialism at home and abroad while placing communist China on the “ash heap of history.”
“It is unthinkable that Americans would look at the sky and see a Chinese spy balloon looking back at us,” Haley said, referring to the purported espionage inflatable shot down off the coast of her home state earlier this month.
Foreign policy bombast aside, though, what is Haley’s calling card?
Apparently that she’s young … or young-ish. Part of a “new generation” of American leaders.
“I have always had a deep belief in America,” the 51-year-old Bamberg, S.C. native said. “But I know America is better than all of the division and distractions that we have today. And I’m confident that the American people agree. We’re ready. Ready to move past the stale ideas and faded names of the past. And we are more than ready for a new generation to lead us into the future.”
“My purpose is to save our country from the downward spiral of socialism and defeatism,” Haley added. “I aim to move America upward, toward freedom and strength.”
The problem with Haley’s pitch (aside from its over-reliance on soundbites and under-reliance on substance) is that she doesn’t appear to be the candidate ideally positioned to capitalize on this generational shift moving her party past those “faded names.”
As of right now, that (prospective) candidate would be Florida governor Ron DeSantis – a 2024 contender whose support amongst GOP voters nationally (and in South Carolina) dwarfs the backing Haley is currently receiving.
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“There will be a number of other candidates with as strong or a stronger case to represent generational change,” noted Rich Lowry for Politico.
Lowry added, “the mood in the GOP is not primed for conventional politics, which many Republicans will consider overly timid and not attuned to the urgency of the moment.”
Others put it more bluntly …
“Haley would be the frontrunner in a Republican party that no longer exists,” wrote Sarah Longwell for The Bulwark. “It’s just that she doesn’t seem to realize this fact.”
“No one is asking for what she’s selling,” Longwell continued, adding that “Haley’s fundamental weakness is that she doesn’t seem to know who or what she wants to be.”
Well … other than to be president.
Is a move to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue realistically in Haley’s future? Early reviews are not optimistic.
“When a new fighter enters the arena to go up against a legend, the crowd braces for a good show,” an editorial in The Economist observed. “But if the matchup is too lopsided the brawl is no fun.”
According to the editorial, “weightier contenders have been limbering up” to challenge Trump.
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As previously noted, Haley’s decision to run against her former boss is an about-face from her prior proclamations.
“I would not run if President Trump ran,” Haley told reporter Meg Kinnard of The Associated Press in April of 2021.
Asked point blank by Kinnard whether she would support another Trump presidential bid, Haley responded “yes.”
This now-broken promise was issued just months after Haley blistered Trump following the January 2021 rioting at the U.S. Capitol – one of many weathervane moments for the mercurial politician.
And what of Haley’s latest flip-flop? She told Bret Baier last month she changed her mind about running against Trump because “the survival of America matters.”
For now, Haley’s entry in the race actually helps Trump. As I noted last week, the former president goes from narrowly trailing DeSantis to narrowly leading him with her in the race.
While Haley’s early reviews were far from positive, I would caution anyone from being too dismissive of her naked ambition …
“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.
“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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Bless her heart.
1. Haley is hooked into that murky WEF-thing that begs the question: Can she be bought?
2. Agreeing that Haley should not be discounted, each time after listening to her she appears to be all form and no substance.
3. Most likely, Haley is a flash in the pan, now, and a fizzle in the future.
4. I agree with Ralph Hightower: “Bless her heart.”
What kind of “combat” did her husband see? Last I heard, he was helping farmers in the sandbox learn new ways of growing stuff.
Ralph Norman has endorsed Nikki. With that, what respect I had remaining for him after his vote for McCarthy as Speaker is now gone.
I think they are ALL Swamp.
Go back home Nikki. You are nothing but a political opportunist. Can’t even finish a job you begin. Not once but 2 times. Yes we need new leaders but you are not one of them.
Yes, please keep your trash in SC.
We ALL (including Nikki) know she has zero chance of winning the White House, just like all the other Republican psychos. We need to contain the MAGA party to the poor, depressed and disease ridden South East.
I wonder with Trump’s nickname will be for her now she’s running against him. I’m go guess it’s Nimrata Randhawa. That’ll remind his “she ain’t from around here”.
Didn’t Nikki Haley have an affair with an alleged journalist and political consultant? I don’t mean that the affair was alleged, I just mean that the credentials of the “journalist” are at issue.
Why do people endorse her? She was not a great governor! Didn’t she allowed the students at MUSC to perform abortions?
She did so much wrong while Governor. There was the personal info hacking debacle with SCDOR and subsequent “handling” of the issue by her. There was the damage to the State Employees Retirement System by her and her cronies which lingers to this day. Multiple bad appointments to several state agencies which caused harm, not the least of which was the Smith guy she brought up from Florida to head SC Dept of Public Safety. He damaged morale there for years after she quit the Governor’s Office to chase greener pastures at the UN.
Does anyone else remember one of her first acts as Governor in 2011 that she was actually proud of, when she required phones at all state agencies to be answered with, “We’re having a great day in South Carolina” (or similar idiocy)?
National Election – check
Well Paid Staff – check
Two SC Presidential Candidates – check
Donaldus is in it – check
Murder trial ending – check
Disqus – discarded to appease misandrists
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Let’s all look to the fiasco at DHEC to see what her administration might be like. Certain protégées she had there ran that agency into the ground. I don’t see them yet attached to her campaign, but I can see that repeating itself.
Amelia, in answer to point 1 on your list, she has been bought and sold many times already. The WEF things is but one more instance of her being well-used merchandise. As UN Ambassador, she learned quickly that a Sikh girl from the backwoods of Bamberg can talk up an Israel First platform and the Joos will throw money at her. Expect to see more of this throughout her campaign, albeit hopefully, a very unsuccessful campaign.