Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said she won’t be running for president in 2024 if former President Donald Trump does — and she would ask him before running, in any event.
Haley made the remarks on Monday during a news conference at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina. The former South Carolina governor was asked by a reporter whether she’d support Trump if he decided to run again.
“Yes,” Haley said. “I would not run if President Trump ran, and I would talk to him about it.”
“And I would talk to him about it,” she added. “You know, that’s something that we will have a conversation about at some point if that decision is something that has to be made.”
I asked @NikkiHaley if she would support Donald Trump if he runs again in 2024.
“Yes,” she told me.
“I would not run if President Trump ran, and I would talk to him about it,” she added. “That’s something that we will have a conversation about, at some point.”
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— Meg Kinnard (@MegKinnardAP) April 12, 2021
As Meg Kinnard of The Associated Press reported, Haley’s statement comes two weeks before former Vice President Mike Pence also visits the state — home to one of the first major presidential primaries in the next cycle.
Unlike Pence, however, Haley is decidedly unhitched from the Trump legacy — or rather, she unhitched herself, which is why her answer generated so much interest.
In the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6 Capitol incursion, Haley was arguably the most senior former member of the Trump administration to break with Trump who hadn’t already done so. As Politico reported at the time, she said the day after the incursion that Trump’s “actions since Election Day will be judged harshly by history.”
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“President Trump has not always chosen the right words,” she told a Republican National Committee closed-door meeting.
“He was wrong with his words in Charlottesville, and I told him so at the time. He was badly wrong with his words yesterday. And it wasn’t just his words. His actions since Election Day will be judged harshly by history.”
She added that “if we are the party of personal responsibility, we need to take personal responsibility.”
In a later interview with Politico, she told Tim Alberta that, “We need to acknowledge [Trump] let us down.”
“He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that ever happen again.”
The icy relationship is apparently reciprocal. In February, the former president refused to meet with Haley, reportedly over her comments.
On Monday, however, Haley said she “had a great working relationship with” Trump.
“I appreciated the way he let me do my job,” she said.
Granted, one needs to factor in that Haley didn’t necessarily think Trump will be running for president in 2024 back in February.
“He’s not going to run for federal office again,” Haley told Politico at the time.
“I don’t think he’s going to be in the picture,” she added. “I don’t think he can. He’s fallen so far.”
However, if Trump does run and if Haley stands by her words, this adds to speculation as to who would oppose Trump if he ran — and what a Republican primary field would look like.
For whatever polling right now is worth — it’s not much — Trump is by far the most popular candidate, drawing 54 percent in a February Morning Consult poll and 51 percent in a Feb. 20-March 2 Fabrizio, Lee & Associates survey.
When Trump wasn’t running, the Fabrizio survey found, Haley wasn’t the top pick, drawing only 8 percent of the vote vs. 6 percent when he was. Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis were the top picks, drawing 19 percent and 17 percent of the vote, respectively.
On the other hand, the one standout number in the field without Trump was the percentage of respondents who said they were undecided — 20 percent. Granted, pretty much everyone is undecided two years on from serious presidential politicking, but for that many respondents to have no opinion at this point is an indication of how open the field could be.
Furthermore, Haley was the top candidate to have broken with Trump in any substantive way. The most prominent Trump opponent included in the poll, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, was fifth with 5 percent. The only two other Trump critics in the survey, Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland and former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, both had 1 percent.
Leaving Haley out of the equation entirely, that’s 7 percent for Romney, Hogan and Christie and 20 percent undecided, leaving 73 percent supporting candidates who are either allies of the former president or not long-term vociferous critics of his policies.
In short, if Haley has serious designs on running, it might not be the worst idea for her to reassure Republican voters that she’s on the former president’s side. Whether that means anything in 2024 is another thing entirely. In 2021, at least, re-hitching herself to the post-presidential Trump train counts as prudence.
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