Indian American Republican leader set to launch bid on Feb 15, giving Trump 1st official rival
South Carolina’s former Indian American Governor Nikki Haley will formally announce she is running for president at a Feb 15 event in Charleston, according to media reports.
The news was first reported by Post and Courier Tuesday night. An email will go out to her supporters on Wednesday, inviting them to the event, according to the Associated Press.
Born Nimrata Nikki Randhawa, Haley, 51, was the first Indian American to get cabinet rank as US ambassador to the under former President Donald Trump. Stepping down in 2018, she moved back to South Carolina, joined the board of Boeing, wrote two books, and jumped on the speaking circuit, “reportedly commanding fees as high as $200,000,” AP reports.
Read: Nikki Haley hints at presidential run in 2024 (January 21, 2023)
She also launched a political nonprofit that served to promote her policies and, later, a political action committee that allowed her to support endorsed candidates, The PAC, Stand for America, also helped fund Haley’s travel to early-voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire, where she stumped for local candidates, Politico noted.
Haley’s bid would make her the first official rival to Trump, who is the only Republican presidential candidate so far. He launched his comeback bid in November.
She said in 2021 that she would not run for president in 2024 if Trump ran, but has suggested recently she changed her mind. Trump nevertheless reminded everyone of that pledge while campaigning in South Carolina last weekend.
“She said she would never run against me because I was the greatest president, but people change their opinions, and they change what’s in their hearts,” Trump told WIS-TV. “So I said, if your heart wants to do it, you have to go do it.
Haley’s expected announcement represents a turnabout, Politico noted. But Haley hinted at her change of plans in an interview with Fox News earlier this month, saying, “Yes, we need to go in a new direction. And can I be that leader? Yes, I think I can be that leader.”
“It’s bigger than one person. And when you’re looking at the future of America, I think it’s time for new generational change. I don’t think you need to be 80 years old to go be a leader in DC.”
Haley, whose parents were Sikh immigrants from India, has long been seen as a prospective presidential candidate. After serving in the South Carolina legislature, Haley won election to the governorship in 2010, after prevailing in a hotly contested primary in which she’d initially been regarded as the underdog.
Read: Nikki Haley hints at 2024 presidential run (November 22, 2022)
Haley’s decision to launch her campaign in her native South Carolina highlights how critical the early-voting state is to her prospects — and several other candidates, Politico said.
Haley could face competition from another home-state contender, Sen. Tim Scott, who is also considering a bid. Haley appointed Scott to the Senate in 2012. He has since won elections to two full terms, it said.
Trump also appears to be focusing on the state. He won the South Carolina Republican primary in 2016 – a contest in which he prevailed over the Haley-backed candidate, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
Other likely 2024 Republican candidates include former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and possibly former Rep. Liz Cheney, a Trump critic.
Read: In campaign style speech Nikki Haley touts her role at UN (December 3, 2021)
Read: Nikki Haley calls for formal US alliance with India (October 27, 2021)