Nikki Haley to formally launch GOP campaign for White House

Nikki Haley

Washington, The Gulf Observer: Republican Nikki Haley plans to formally announce her 2024 presidential campaign on Wednesday, betting that her boundary-breaking career as a woman and person of color who governed in the heart of the South before representing the U.S. on the world stage can overcome entrenched support for her onetime boss, former President Donald Trump.

Haley, a former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador, released a video on Tuesday declaring her candidacy. The Wednesday event in the historic coastal city of Charleston marks the first time she’ll appear in public as a declared White House hopeful. It could also amount to a show of strength in her home state, which holds a critical early primary that influences the fate of the GOP nomination.

The announcement makes Haley the first major Republican to officially challenge Trump, but she will hardly be the last. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are among those expected to launch campaigns in the coming months. Haley’s fellow South Carolinian Sen. Tim Scott is also weighing a White House bid.

As the presidential primary season comes into focus, the biggest question is whether anyone in the field will be able to replace Trump at the top of a party that he transformed with his first campaign in 2016. He remains popular with a wide swath of voters who will have significant sway in the primary, though some party officials have blamed him for the GOP’s lackluster performance in last year’s midterms. As it did in 2016, a crowded field could work to Trump’s advantage, allowing him to march to the nomination while his opponents divide support among themselves.

In her announcement video, the 51-year-old Haley made no direct reference to the 76-year-old former president, instead saying it’s “time for a new generation of leadership.”

There appears to be openness among Republicans for fresh faces, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. In an open-ended question asking Republicans to choose who they want to lead their party, a majority of Republicans didn’t choose either Trump or DeSantis, considered the former president’s top rival. But they also didn’t have a clear alternative in mind.

Eleven other politicians, including Haley, were named by just 1% of Republicans as their preferred leader.

Haley is likely to distinguish herself in the GOP field in part by emphasizing her biography. In the video released on Tuesday, she spoke of growing up in a small South Carolina town as the daughter of Indian immigrants who experienced racist taunts. Despite growing up feeling “different,” Haley insisted that America is not a racist country.

That argument could resonate among Republican voters as many in the party push efforts to block or change the way the subject of systemic racism is taught in schools and universities.

Haley also addressed Republicans with some tough talk, saying in the video that the party has lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections and that should prompt a new approach. She highlighted her two successful elections as South Carolina governor, starting with the 2010 victory that made her the state’s first female and minority governor — along with the nation’s youngest, at 38.