Nikki Haley declares presidential election, first main Trump challenger

Former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley announced Tuesday that she will be running in the 2024 presidential campaign. She is the first Republican to challenge her former boss and ex-President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination.

Haley, 51, addressed the age difference between 80-year-old President Joe Biden and her 76-year-old challenger, Trump. Although Biden has not yet officially announced his candidacy, he is expected to do so in the coming weeks.

“Republicans have lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections. That needs to change,” Haley said in a video posted to her Twitter account. Calling for a new generation of leaders, she said Biden’s record is “miserable” and the “Washington establishment has let us down time and time again.”

Announcing her run a day before the campaign was scheduled to officially kick off in Charleston, South Carolina, Haley called for financial responsibility and safe borders.

Haley has been assembling a team to explore a possible run for weeks, despite previous claims she would not run if Trump decided to launch his third White House campaign.

In public polls, she is behind Trump and other potential challengers.

A Morning Consult poll on Tuesday, for example, shows that 47% of Republican primary voters support Trump, while just 3% of respondents said they would vote for Haley. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is widely expected to run in the race, has 31% of GOP support, while Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence, who has also hinted at a possible run, has 7% of the vote .

One of Trump’s most staunch Republican opponents in the US House of Representatives, former Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., is tied with Haley on 3% of the vote. None of these potential challengers have officially announced a run.

Born and raised in South Carolina, Haley noticed how her Indian parents made her “different” from most other Americans, which she said forced her to look for similarities with other people instead. Her lineage made her the nation’s first Asian-American woman governor and the first Indian-American cabinet minister.

Acknowledging the deep political divide, as well as racial and socioeconomic tensions in the nation at the moment, she said she has seen and heard atrocities overseas that underscore the freedoms Americans enjoy.

“I saw evil,” she said. In China, leaders are committing genocide while the Iranian government is murdering people who question its policies, she said. “Even on our worst day, we are blessed to live in America,” Haley said.

Political grudges in the US are seen as a vulnerability by many at home and abroad, she said.

“The socialist left sees an opportunity to rewrite history. China and Russia are on the rise. They all think we can be bullied and kicked around,” she said. “This is what you should know about me, I don’t condone bullies and if you sit back it hurts them more if you wear heels.”

Haley’s much-anticipated announcement makes her the second candidate in what is likely to become a broad Republican primary. Other GOP names making presidential buzz include DeSantis, Pence, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

But for now, Haley is Trump’s only rival, putting her in a potentially awkward position, having changed her stance on the former president following the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot at the hands of a mob of his supporters.

The uproar, fueled by false allegations of voter fraud Trump had trumpeted, disrupted the transfer of power to Biden. Not long after the attack, Haley said she was “disgusted” by what Trump had done.

But like other Republicans, she returned to a more positive view of Trump, who remains hugely popular with much of the GOP base.

The Democratic National Committee said Haley has “embraced the most extreme elements of the MAGA agenda.” As governor, she signed an “extreme ban on abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest,” backed plans to cut Medicare benefits and pushed for tax cuts for the wealthy, the DNC said in a statement.

“Haley’s entry officially ushers in a chaotic 2024 primary race for the MAGA base that has been brewing for a long time,” it said.

Haley’s first campaign event, previously touted as a “special announcement,” is scheduled for Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET in Charleston. The next day, she heads out to campaign with stops in the key primary states of New Hampshire and Iowa.

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