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- Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is planning to run for president in 2024.
- That would pit her against former President Donald Trump, whom she previously said she’d back.
- The GOP star served six terms in state office before becoming the ambassador to the UN.
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Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley plans to run for president in 2024 and is set to announce her bid on February 15 in Charleston, reported The Post and Courier.
Her communications director told Insider’s Cheryl Teh on Tuesday evening that The Post and Courier’s reporting is “accurate.”
Haley’s coming announcement would make her the second Republican to declare their bid for the White House, after former President Donald Trump announced his run in November.
It would also come after Haley said in 2021 that she would back Trump again and wouldn’t challenge her former boss in a 2024 race.
But Haley has been hinting at a presidential run in recent weeks, saying she could potentially be America’s new leader while speaking in a January interview on Fox News.
“Yes, we need to go in a new direction,” Haley said. “And can I be that leader? Yes. I think I can be that leader.”
On the other hand, Trump has said “it would be very disloyal” if Haley, who served as the US ambassador to the UN under him, ran against him.
A representative for Haley did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment for this story.
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Haley was born Nimrata Nikki Randhawa in 1972 in Bamberg, South Carolina, to two immigrants from Punjab, India.
Her father, a professor at Punjab Agricultural University, and her mother, who earned a law degree in India, moved to South Carolina in 1969, where they both had extensive teaching careers at local institutions.
Haley’s mother also started a gift and clothing boutique, Exotica International, in 1979, per South Carolina daily The Times and Democrat.
When she was 13, Haley started helping with accounting at Exotica, and later returned to the company as chief financial officer after she graduated from Clemson University, per the Seattle Times.
From 1998 to 2004, Haley was named as a board member of the chambers of commerce in Orangeburg County and Lexington, as well as the president of the National Association of Women Business Owners.
Haley is married to National Guardsman Michael Haley, who served as an officer in Afghanistan. They have a daughter, Rena, and a son, Nalin.
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Haley came in second in the primaries when she initially ran for South Carolina’s House of Representatives in 2004, but won in a runoff after her incumbent opponent, Larry Koon, couldn’t secure a majority. She ran uncontested in the general election afterward.
During her first term, Haley was elected as the chair of the freshman caucus and later became majority whip in the state’s general assembly.
Serving three terms in total, she pushed to lower taxes and education reform, according to her voting history.
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Haley was elected the governor of South Carolina in 2010 with endorsements from former presidential candidate Sen. Mitt Romney and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
At 32, she was the youngest governor in the country when she took office in January 2011, and made history as South Carolina’s first female governor. She was also the state’s first Asian-American governor, and would go on to serve three terms in total.
As governor, Haley pledged to crack down on illegal immigration in South Carolina, signing a bill that required police to check the immigration status of anyone they stop and suspect of being in the US illegally.
She also signed a state law in 2016 banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Haley made national headlines in 2015 after she visibly choked up in her response to the Charleston shooting, in which nine African Americans at a Bible study were shot dead by a white supremacist.
The then-governor called for the confederate flag to be removed from state capitol grounds.
As the Black Lives Matter movement grew in 2015, Haley also spoke out against what she said was a “shameful” image problem with minority voters in the GOP. “The problem for our party is that our approach often appears cold and unwelcoming to minorities,” she said.
Haley later was criticized for saying in 2019 that the confederate flag was seen in South Carolina as a symbol of “service, sacrifice, and heritage,” and that the Charleston shooter had hijacked its meaning. She tweeted at the time that her comment had been mischaracterized.
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In January 2017, then-President Donald Trump nominated Haley to become the US ambassador to the United Nations.
CNN reported that Haley had originally been considered for Secretary of State, but that she declined Trump’s offer, telling him he could “find someone better.”
As the ambassador to the UN, Haley kept in line with Trump’s pro-Israel stance, backing his bid to withhold food aid to Palestine in 2018 and warning other countries not to condemn his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
She was also tough on North Korea and Russia, playing a vocal role in UN sanctions against Kim Jong Un’s regime and later accusing Moscow of covering up violations of those sanctions.
Haley stepped down as ambassador four weeks before the 2018 November midterms, surprising some White House officials, CNN reported.
However, Trump said Haley had informed him six months earlier of her intention to “take a break” and resign. He praised Haley in his remarks, saying she “has been very special to me” and lauding her as “somebody that gets it.”
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Haley’s history with Trump, however, has not been so smooth.
When she endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in 2016 against then-GOP frontrunner Trump for the White House, he tweeted that the people of South Carolina were “embarrassed” by her.
“Bless your heart,” she tweeted in response.
Haley slammed Trump at a Rubio campaign event, saying she would “not stop until we fight a man that chooses not to disavow the KKK.”
“That is not a part of our party, that’s not who we want as president, we will not allow that in our country,” she said then.
While she initially criticized Trump’s 2015 proposal to ban Muslims from entering the US, calling it “unconstitutional” and “just wrong,” Haley in 2017 defended his decision to block travelers from six Muslim-majority countries for 90 days, saying it wasn’t an outright Muslim ban.
“What the president is doing, everybody needs to realize that what he’s doing is saying: ‘Let’s take a step back. Let’s temporarily pause,'” she said.
After the January 6, 2021, riots at the Capitol, Haley said she felt Trump had “let us down.”
“He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that ever happen again,” she told Politico.
In particular, she vehemently disapproved of how Trump failed to protect his former vice president, Mike Pence, telling Politico she was “so triggered” by his words against Pence that she had to turn off her TV.
“When I tell you I’m angry, it’s an understatement,” said, per the outlet.
A month after the riots, Haley wrote in an opinion article for the Wall Street Journal that she believed Trump’s policies made the US “stronger, safer, and more prosperous,” but that she still judged him for his actions after the election.
Meanwhile, Trump has appeared less perturbed by rumors of Haley’s 2024 run than he has by the looming threat of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ bid. DeSantis has not declared his run yet, but he has hinted that he might.
Trump said Haley had called him to discuss her potential run, and said she “should do it,” per CNN.
“I talked to her for a little while, I said: ‘Look, you know, go by your heart if you want to run,'” he said.
A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.