Nikki Haley: The former US governor and ambassador, who is set to take on Donald Trump in 2024
Speculation about Nikki Haley's political future had been building since she left Donald Trump's Cabinet in 2018, and peaked after she posted a video on social media declaring it was time for fresh blood in the White House
Washington: Nikki Haley was barely known outside her native South Carolina before Donald Trump tapped her as ambassador to the United Nations back in 2017.
But Haley used the high-profile post to cultivate an image as a plain-speaking conservative, and a reputation for standing up to her boss — who she now looks set to challenge for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Republicans with ambitions for the highest American office have been keeping their powder dry until now, wary of getting a bloody nose from the man who wrote the book on no-holds-barred political brawling.
The 51-year-old Haley appears to be made of sterner stuff.
During her time at the United Nations, Haley — who previously served for six years as South Carolina’s governor — was unafraid to speak her mind, often in fairly undiplomatic language.
She was the face of the White House to the world on everything from North Korean denuclearisation to the war in Syria.
Speculation about Haley’s political future had been building since she left Trump’s Cabinet in 2018, and peaked after she posted a video on social media declaring it was time for fresh blood in the White House.
The daughter of Indian immigrants, who was raised as a Sikh but identifies as Christian, Haley was the face of diversity in a Cabinet criticised for being too white.
Haley was not exactly on the Trump train from the get-go — she endorsed Florida Senator Marco Rubio during the Republican primary race in 2016 before backing Senator Ted Cruz.
Indeed, she called the Manhattan property baron “everything a governor doesn’t want in a president,” and just weeks before the election, admitted she was “not a fan” of the candidate.
So understandably, eyebrows were raised when Trump chose Haley — who had little foreign policy experience — as Washington’s voice at the United Nations.
‘He let us down’
Born in 1972 in Bamberg, South Carolina, Nimrata “Nikki” Randhawa — a mother of two — rose quickly in the southern state’s politics, serving in its House of Representatives from 2005 to 2011 when she was elected governor.
Her conservative views and outspoken but collegial style were popular in her home state.
She got headlines in 2015 by supporting the removal of the Confederate flag from the state house after a white gunman opened fire at a black church, killing nine parishioners.
She was also a fierce defender of Israel, and a ferocious critic of Russia.
Since leaving government, Haley’s praise of the Trump presidency has been offset by her criticism of his personal conduct, including his involvement in the 2021 attack on the US Capitol.
“We need to acknowledge he let us down,” she said, referring to Trump’s actions leading up to the attack.
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