Former South Carolina governor and 2024 presidential candidate Nikki Haley is changing her tune on Donald Trump’s latest criminal indictment – although it remains to be seen whether her newest flip-flop is indicative of a permanent shift in her political calculus.
Then again … is anything really permanent when it comes to Haley?
Or is everything about her just perpetual political machination … a never-ending attempt to have her cake and eat it, too?
Haley’s initial response to Trump’s federal indictment fell squarely in line with the prevailing sentiment of her party.
“This is not how justice should be pursued in our country,” Haley wrote. “The American people are exhausted by the prosecutorial overreach, double standards, and vendetta politics. It’s time to move beyond the endless drama and distractions.”
It didn’t take long for Haley to switch gears, though.
“If this indictment is true, if what it says is actually the case, president Trump was incredibly reckless with our national security,” Haley told Fox News earlier this week.
Haley went on to make her disdain for Trump’s alleged conduct personal …
“My husband’s about to deploy this weekend,” she said. “This puts all of our military men and women in danger, if you are going to talk about what our military is capable of or how we would go about invading or doing something with one of our enemies. And if that’s the case, it’s reckless, it’s frustrating, and it causes problems.”
Haley’s move was – not surprisingly – praised by the far left.
Unfortunately for Haley, readers of The New Republic aren’t exactly her target market as she campaigns for the presidency. Even more unfortunately for Haley, her target market isn’t buying what she’s selling. Four months after jumping into the race, Haley remains mired in low single digits – drawing the support of 3.4 percent of the GOP electorate, according to the latest aggregate polling from RealClearPolitics.
That puts her behind Trump (52.4 percent), Florida governor Ron DeSantis (21.9 percent) and former vice president Mike Pence (4.6 percent). According to the latest CBS News’ polling, only 15 percent of GOP primary voters are even considering voting for Haley – meaning not only is she drawing limited support, she has a limited ceiling.
Flip-flopping when it comes to Trump is obviously nothing new for Haley … whose time on the national stage has been defined by her repetitive contortions related to the former president.
Haley even flip-flopped on whether to run against Trump …
Asked point blank by Kinnard whether she would support another Trump presidential bid, Haley responded “yes.”
Obviously, plans changed … although political conspiracy theorists have previously postulated that Haley and Trump reached some sort of understanding ahead of her announcement. The gist of that rumored “understanding?” She would peel votes away from DeSantis – in exchange for consideration as his vice presidential nominee. That speculation ramped up when Haley went after DeSantis for his ongoing war with über-woke corporate giant Disney.
Regular members of our audience will recall Haley campaigned aggressively against Trump during his initial presidential run, yet wound up as his ambassador to the United Nations. That appointment was no reflection of Trump’s trust in Haley, though. Rather, it was a sop to then-S.C. lieutenant governor Henry McMaster – a Trump supporter who ascended to the governorship of the Palmetto State once Haley had been duly confirmed to Trump’s cabinet.
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Haley lasted two years as Trump’s ambassador before resigning to lay the groundwork for her presidential bid.
“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.”
Haley keeps making errors, though. And her underlying lack of consistency – displayed so often on so many issues – has come to define her as a politician.
Will Nikki Haley ever discover the courage of her own convictions (assuming she has any)? Or is she destined to forever remain a falling feather – flitting hither and yon on the ever-shifting winds of political expedience?
Haley is frankly running out of time to demonstrate that she has anything resembling a primum mobile beyond her own upward mobility.
“Haley’s core problem is that she has no guiding principle outside of her own ambition,” I noted in a column two years ago. “And while that is certainly true of any number of politicians, Haley is absolutely terrible at hiding it.”
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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