Indian-American Republican leader Nikki Haley, who is the first woman and first person of colour to lead South Carolina, and eventually went on to become the first Indian American in a presidential cabinet, announced her running for the US President on Tuesday.
A former president of the National Association of Women Business Owners, she was first elected to the South Carolina House in 2004. Six years later, she became the first woman elected as governor of the state in 2010 and was the youngest governor in the nation when she took office in 2011. She resigned in the middle of her second term to become Trump’s ambassador to the UN – a role she served in until the end of 2018, CNN reported.
Talking about the racism in US, she had said at the Republican National Convention in 2020, that US is not systematically racist.
“That is a lie. America is not a racist country. This is personal for me. I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants. They came to America and settled in a small Southern town. My father wore a turban. My mother wore a sari. I was a brown girl in a black and white world. We faced discrimination and hardship. But my parents never gave in to grievance and hate,” The NYT quoted Haley as saying.
Haley began her political career as a state representative. She was elected the Governor of a staunch republican state South Carolina, by a very small margin of 51 per cent to 47 per cent. However, she went on to triple her margin during her re-election in 2014.
Some of the major bills signed by Haley under her tenure include the one cracking down on illegal immigration. Under this, the police officers checked the immigration status of people stopped or arrested in suspicion of being entered the US illegally, The New York Times reported.
In 2014, she signed another important Bill that redistributed the districts with the highest poverty levels and provided money for reading coaches in schools.
While dropping the Common Core education standards from the state, she had said, “We don’t ever want to educate South Carolina children like they educate California children.”
In a prominent moment from her career, Haley in 2015, signed a bill to remove the Confederate battle flag– the military emblem of the South’s fight to preserve slavery — from the South Carolina House.
Her decision came just three weeks after a white supremacist killed nine Black parishioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, The NYT reported.
Five days after the massacre, Haley had said, “We are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer. The fact that people are choosing to use it as a sign of hate is something we cannot stand. The fact that it causes pain to so many is enough to move it from the Capitol grounds. It is, after all, a Capitol that belongs to all of us,” she said.
She added saying that, for many South Carolinians, the flag was “a symbol of respect, integrity and duty” and “a way to honour ancestors who came to the service of their state” — and that there was no need for the state to decide who was right: the people who saw it that way or those who saw it as “a deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past,” The NYT reported.
Haley also recalled how she felt during her childhood during the racial profiling of his father.
“Two police officers showed up at a produce stand and watched him until he paid. That produce stand is still there, and every time I drive by it, I still feel that pain. I realized that that Confederate flag was the same pain that so many people were feeling,” she said.
She was chosen as the ambassador to the United Nations by an overwhelming majority of 96 to 4, after she was selected by then US President Donald Trump.
After President Donald J. Trump chose her as his ambassador to the United Nations, Ms. Haley was confirmed overwhelmingly by the Senate, 96 to 4. She would serve in that role for about two years before resigning at the end of 2018.
As per The NYT, Haley was a face of the Trump administration’s policies at the UN on Israel, North Korea, Russia and Syria.
She accused the U.N. of “bullying” Israel for its treatment of Palestinians and called for the United States to move its Israeli Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. She supported sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear program and pushed hard for the decertification of the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.
However, in a major tense episode with the Trump administration, she announced that the Trump administration would impose sanctions on Russia over its support for a Syrian government that was using chemical weapons against civilians. But, the White House announced that it would not do so, suggesting that Haley had been confused about the policy. Responding to this tersely, Haley had said “I don’t get confused,” The NYT reported.
Despite the internal conflicts, Haley did maintain a high public approval rating throughout her time as ambassador, as she had during her governorship.
Notably, when Trump’s approval rating was in the high 30s and low 40s, that of Haley’s was over 60 per cent, CNN reported.
As per CNN, Haley has often attempted to walk a fine line between allying with Trump and distancing herself enough to appeal to his more moderate critics. She left the Trump administration in 2018 on good terms with the then-president – a marked contrast from other former Trump officials who have publicly fallen out with their onetime boss.
Before the 2016 Presidential polls, she denounced Trump describing him as “everything I taught my children not to do in kindergarten.” But, once Trump was elected as the US President, she changed her tune, like many other Republicas who opposed him, The NYT stated.
Haley agreed to serve in US administration, and also said that his election showed he had connected with American voters and that Republicans needed to adapt accordingly.
Then again after the 2020 capitol riots, she condemned Trump saying, “His actions since Election Day will be judged harshly by history.”
“She again changed her stance, once the House filed impeachment charges against Trump. They beat him up before he got into office, and they’re beating him up after he leaves office. I mean, at some point, give the man a break,” The NYT quoted Haley as saying.
Then in April 2021, Haley had said that she would not run for President in 2024 if Donald Trump does, but she has decided to change her decision ultimately.
While announcing about her decision, Nikki Haley called for new leadership in the party that she admitted had repeatedly failed to grab the popular vote in the presidential elections.
While sharing the video, she wrote, “Get excited! Time for a new generation. Let’s do this!”
“Republicans have lost the popular vote in seven out of the last eight presidential elections. That has to change,” The Hill quoted Nikki Haley as saying.
“Joe Biden’s record is abysmal, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Washington establishment has failed us over and over and over again. It’s time for a new generation of leadership,” she added.
In the video posted on Twitter, Nikki Haley said, “I was the proud daughter of Indian immigrants. Not black, not white. I was different. But my mom would always say, ‘Your job is not to focus on the differences, but the similarities’ and my parents reminded me and my siblings every day how blessed we were to live in the US.”
She further said, “Some look at our past as evidence that America’s founding principles are bad. They say the promise of freedom is just made up. Some think our ideas are not just wrong, but racist and evil. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Haley will likely face stiff competition in this lane from other potential GOP candidates such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who are all said to be weighing 2024 runs and could also appeal to conservative Republicans looking to turn the page from Trump. Some Republican strategists say a big Republican primary field would be advantageous to Trump, who still enjoys significant support among the party base, and could splinter the vote, allowing the former president to walk away with the nomination, CNN reported. (ANI)