Nikki Haley: Heels for Ammunition, Not fashion

In April 2021, Nikki Haley, who had been appointed as ambassador to the UN by then-President Donald Trump in 2017, stated “I would not run if President Trump ran, and I would talk to him about it.”  

That pledge didn’t last long. On Feb. 15, 2023, Haley announced her 2024 presidential campaign. Trump responded to Haley’s announcement saying, “…if your heart wants to do it, you have to do it.” Haley, the former South Carolina governor, declared her candidacy with a Twitter video before her speech in Charleston. 

“America is not past its prime… It’s just that our politicians are past theirs,” Haley said regarding her opinion on today’s politicians. 

Some of Haley’s stances include pro-life, pro-Israel, and anti illegal immigration rhetoric; she does not support requiring transgender people to use bathrooms of their gender assigned at birth. And with the past two presidents being over 70 years old, Haley supports mandatory competency tests for politicians over 75 years old. 

“I’ve never lost a race,” said Haley, as reported by Fox News. “I said that then, I still say that now. I’m not going to lose now.” 

The Clemson alum had her first political win in 2004 with the South Carolina House. After two re-elections, Halely ran for state governor with endorsements from Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin. As governor of South Carolina, Haley signed legislation to remove the Confederate flag from the State House, cut taxes, and tightened laws on immigration, abortion, and voting. Halely is the second U.S. governor to be of Indian descent. Although Haley’s presidential win would be the first female president and first president of Indian descent, she rejects “identity politics.” 

Ajit Singh Randhawa and Raj Kaur Randhawa, Haley’s parents, emigrated to the U.S. from Punjab, India. Nimarata Nikki Randhawa, Nikki Haley, was born in 1972 at a hospital in Bamberg, South Carolina. Haley recounted her parents experiencing “racist taunts,” but stated that America is not racist. In 2017, the fifty-one year old politician said, “I wear heels, but it’s not a fashion statement… It’s because if I see something wrong, I’m gonna kick ‘em every single time.” Haley has claimed that feminism is about working hard and not relying on “victimhood.” In reference to abortions, Haley has argued that pro-choice feminism is “not real feminism.” 

In running for President, Haley hopes to win the popular vote for the Republican party for the first time in eight previous elections. Trump wished Haley good luck on her presidential campaign. As of now, three Republican candidates have entered the 2024 election: Donald Trump, Nikki Halely, and Vivek Ramaswamy. It has been heavily speculated that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will run for election as well. The Hill reports low levels of support for Haley with her tying at 6% with Former Vice President Mike Pence. Contrastingly, Trump comes in at 50% and DeSantis at 30% (despite not having announced his candidacy). 

Haley headed TPUSA high school students against sentiments such as “own the libs” because they are the opposite of leadership. Interestingly, this statement is far from Trump’s typical strategy. Controversy surrounding Haley and Trump’s relationship has arisen since her campaign announcement. In the past, Halely has supported Trump, been employed by him, and declared she would not run against him for president. Simultaneously, Haley has said, “The actions that president had since Election Day were not his finest,” in reference to the January 6th riot. On February 1, 2023, Time Magazine posted an article entitled “A History of Nikki Haley’s Biggest Flip Flops on Time – TIME.” 

The dynamic between Trump and Haley has been everchanging and will likely continue to shift. With Haley’s low primary support ratings, a major shift in direction may be called for if she is to surpass Trump and DeSantis. Whether this direction be moving towards tactics similar to Trump or outwardly disassociating from him is in the air as we move closer to the election. Although Haley does not approve of “identity politics,” becoming the first female president of the U.S. would be a breakthrough for women across the country. From Hilary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, it is clear that Haley will face heavy gender discrimination during her campaign. It is unclear whether Haley will embrace a feminist approach or not draw attention to her breaking of pre-existing gender norms. 

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