Nikki Haley, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and South Carolina governor, is expected to officially announce her 2024 presidential run on Feb. 15 in Charleston, according to two South Carolina Republicans familiar with her plans.
Haley would become the first Republican candidate to join former President Donald Trump in the Republican presidential primary.
Haley’s last hint at a 2024 run came earlier this month during a Fox News interview, in which she called for “generational change” when looking at the future of the country.
“I don’t think you need to be 80-years-old to go be a leader in D.C.,” the 51-year-old Haley said. “I think we need a young generation to come in, step up, and really start fixing things.”
“When you’re looking at a run for president, you look at two things,” Haley added. “You first look at, ‘Does the current situation push for new leadership?’ The second question is, ‘Am I that person that could be that new leader?’ So do I think I could be that leader? Yes, But we are still working through things and we’ll figure it out. I’ve never lost a race. I said that then, I still say that now. I’m not going to lose now.”
In the 2022 midterm election cycle, through her “Stand for America” PAC, Haley campaigned for Republicans up and down the ticket, and took trips to Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, all early presidential primary states. She was also a closing surrogate on the trail for Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, and Senate candidates Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania and Herschel Walker in Georgia.
Haley has consistently polled third or fourth in early 2024 GOP primary surveys. In a Trafalgar Group poll in late January of South Carolina primary voters, Haley placed fourth, and got 11.6% of the vote in a field that included Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Carolina Gov. Tim Scott, former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Scott, another potential 2024 contender from the Palmetto State, is traveling to Iowa for the Polk County Republican party’s annual Lincoln Dinner in late February.
“Nikki Haley stepped from the governor’s office to the international stage at the United Nations, rounding out credentials that would prepare her for a campaign like this. It’s like a countdown at NASA, T-minus two weeks and counting,” said Dave Wilson, president of the Christian nonprofit Palmetto Family Council.
Haley notched one symbolic win against Trump last year in the primary for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, when Haley backed Rep. Nancy Mace. Mace defeated Trump’s endorsed candidate, former Rep. Katie Arrington, by about nine points.
Trump told reporters traveling with him Saturday to South Carolina for a campaign stop that Haley had reached out to her ex-boss to inform him that she was considering running for the White House.
“She called me and said she’d like to consider it, and I said, ‘You should do it,'” Trump recounted. “I talked to her for a little while. I said, ‘Look, you know, go by your heart if you want to run.'”
Haley, a South Carolina native who was the first female and Indian-American governor in state history, told the Associated Press in April 2021 that she would not challenge Trump if he decided to run again. Trump nominated Haley for the U.N. ambassadorship after his win in 2016.
“I would not run if President Trump ran, and I would talk to him about it,” Haley said at the time.
Since then, she has suggested, repeatedly, that she’s seriously considering a run. The former South Carolina governor told Fox News that her comments about not running against Trump were made before some perceived flaws of President Biden’s administration, such as the withdrawal in Afghanistan and the dramatic rise in inflation.
“When I look at that, I look at the fact [that] if I’m this passionate and I’m this determined, why not me?” Haley told Fox News.
Wilson said “it’s no surprise” Haley is the first Republican out of the gate to challenge Trump in a primary.
“She’s the type of person who doesn’t ever seem to back away from a challenge,” he told CBS News.
Aaron Navarro is an associate producer for the political unit at CBS News, focusing on House and gubernatorial campaigns as well as the census and redistricting.
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