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Who is Nikki Haley? 5 things to know about the GOP candidate challenging Trump

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Nikki Haley announced on Tuesday that she is running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.

Haley, 51, joins former President Donald Trump and Sen. Tim Scott as Republicans who have entered the race for president. Here are five things to know about Haley:

Haley is the daughter of Indian immigrants

Haley’s birth name was Nimrata Nikki Randhawa and she was born in South Carolina to immigrants who came to the U.S. from Punjab, India.

She grew up using mainly her middle name Nikki, and she married her now-husband Michael Haley in 1996 and took his last name.

Haley was the first female Governor of South Carolina

Haley served as the governor of South Carolina from 2010 to 2017, winning two general elections. Prior to winning her gubernatorial elections, she served in the South Carolina House of Representatives, representing District 87 in Lexington County.

During her 2010 campaign for governor, she received high-profile endorsements from Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and John McCain.

Haley is the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations

Haley never finished her second term as governor of South Carolina because in 2016 she was appointed by then President-elect Trump to be the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., and she resigned as governor a few months later.

Haley claimed in an interview that Trump offered her the position of Secretary of State, but she turned it down.

She resigned as U.N. ambassador in 2018 and called serving in this role “the honor of a lifetime.”

Haley’s public support of Trump has waxed and waned

Despite being appointed to a high level position by Trump, Haley’s public support of the former president has waxed and waned.

Like many Republicans in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, when Trump was still only a candidate, Haley supported Sen. Marco Rubio, and then supported Sen. Ted Cruz after Rubio dropped out of the race.

“I will not stop until we fight a man that chooses not to disavow the KKK,” Haley said about Trump in 2016. “That is not a part of our party. That’s not who we want as president. We will not allow that in our country!”

Haley was referencing a Trump interview where he said, “I know nothing about David Duke, I know nothing about white supremacists.”

Several months later, Haley endorsed Trump over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, and subsequently supported his re-election bid in 2020 over Joe Biden.

Then in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Haley said that Trump “let us down,” and claimed that “we shouldn’t have listened to him.”

“I would not run if President Trump ran, and I would talk to him about it,” she said in 2021, but she seems to have reversed course on that decision.

“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 said last month about Haley. “So I said, if your heart wants to do it, you have to go do it.”

Haley says it’s time for a ‘new generation’ of Republicans

During her presidential announcement video that she posted on Twitter, Haley brought up her experience as South Carolina Governor, her upbringing with immigrant parents and her religious faith.

Haley also lamented the fact that Republicans have won the popular vote in just one of the last eight presidential elections.

“That has to change,” she said.


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