Canada Markets closed

Nikki Haley, unable to escape 2024 intrigue, tells Republicans in SC: ‘We will win’

·3 min read

South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary flickered to life Thursday night when former Gov. Nikki Haley took the stage in Charleston, where she addressed a room full of GOP voters who, at times, struggled to hide their own hopes about her political future.

One man jumped to his feet at the end of Haley’s 25-minute speech.

“That is our next president of the United States of America,” the Rev. Robert Julius Reid exclaimed, pointing to the stage where Haley had just stood.

Fellow attendees at the Citadel Republican Society’s annual Patriot Dinner agreed, and responded to Reid’s proclamation with thunderous applause.

During her remarks, Haley rattled off a list of accomplishments, both as governor of South Carolina and as the United Nations ambassador for two years under former President Donald Trump.

Haley mentioned Trump twice in her speech, a move that suggests she may be trying to chart a political path that is connected to, but not dependent on, her ties to the former president.

When she did mention Trump by name, Haley credited both him and the GOP for building what she called “one of the hottest economies in American history” during “the Trump years.”

The only other nod came when Haley reaffirmed one of Trump’s famous campaign promises, when she said, “It’s time to build the wall.”

Haley’s speech oscillated between sharp one-liners and hopeful depictions of a brighter future with Republicans back in control of Congress and the White House.

“Joe Biden is the greatest gift to America’s enemies since Jimmy Carter,” Haley said, drawing an elongated “ooh” from the crowd.

“And just like Carter,” Haley continued, “we’re gonna make sure that Joe is a one-term president. You mark my words.”

But she wouldn’t say who should be at the top of the Republican ticket, even when the audience seemed ready to pick her.

“Everybody was pretty confident she was running for president while she was still governor, so I wouldn’t say it’s early,” said Scott Huffmon, a political scientist at Winthrop University.

Haley still in national spotlight

Since her departure from the Trump administration in 2019, Haley has kept herself in the national political spotlight.

She is a frequent guest on conservative TV news outlets and an avid social media user who frequently weighs in on domestic and foreign policy.

She has published her second memoir, set up a political action committee to support Republican candidates in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections and has used her star-power to help fund-raise for Republican candidates across the country. She has headlined GOP events in the other early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Together, these actions have also kept speculation alive about Haley’s next possible political steps.

“This is a way for her to kind of make it known that she ticks every box, that she’s not just a former Southern conservative governor, but she’s also got international experience and that she can also dish it out to Biden and the Democrats in Congress,” Huffmon predicted ahead of Haley’s speech Thursday.

And so, in the early voting state famous for its near-perfect track record of picking GOP presidential nominees, Haley made her pitch.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting