April 16, 2024

Nikki Haley leaps into 2024 GOP presidential primary at packed campaign rally

Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina and former UN ambassador, formally launched her campaign for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination Wednesday before a packed crowd of supporters.

Haley’s campaign kickoff event in comes one day after she officially declared her candidacy for president, emphasizing in a social media video thatΒ “it’s time for a new generation of leadership.”

Cindy Warmbier β€” mother of Otto Warmbier, who died in June 2017 after being imprisoned and tortured in North Korea β€” helped introduce Haley, whom she credited with changing her life following her son’s death.

“I came here to tell you how Nikki Haley changed my life. To tell you that Nikki was a glimmer of light in the darkest period of my life. To tell you why America would be lucky to have Nikki Haley in the White House,” Warmbier said.

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“We need Nikki Haley fighting for all our children the way she fought for Otto,” Warbmier added later in her speech.

Republican Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina’s 5th District introduced Haley at the event, praising the former governor and state House representative as a principled conservative.

“Nikki and I are Republicans, but we are conservatives first. We can’t say that about every Republican,” Norman said.

Norman praised former President Donald Trump, Haley’s former boss and rival in the GOP nomination battle, for exhibiting the leadership qualities Republicans needed in the White House.

“Nikki Haley has those very qualities desperately needed in America today. A fierce, a bold leader, who will fight for America,” Norman said.

Haley’s first stops on the campaign trail will come immediately following her event in South Carolina, which votes third in the GOP presidential primary calendar. Haley will be in New Hampshire Thursday and Iowa later in the week, the two states that kick off the Republican nominating schedule.

Haley is the second major Republican figure to jump into the 2024 White House race, following Trump, who launched his campaign in mid-November.

More than two years after his 2020 reelection defeat at the hands of President Joe Biden, Trump remains the most popular and influential politician in the GOP. But the first three months of the former president’s latest White House bid have raised plenty of questions regarding his political durability.

While the former president was once the overall front-runner in the early 2024 GOP nomination polls, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has eclipsed him in some surveys over the past few months. Nearly every poll indicates Trump and DeSantis as the favorites, with Haley and the other figures mulling Republican presidential runs in the single digits.

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DeSantis, a former congressman, saw his popularity soar among conservatives across the country the past three years, courtesy of his forceful pushback against coronavirus pandemic restrictions and his aggressive actions as a conservative culture warrior, going after media and corporations.Β While DeSantis has routinely dismisses talk of a 2024 White House run, he’s dropped plenty of hints of a possible presidential bid since his 19-point gubernatorial re-election victory in November.

Another likely contender for the GOP nomination is former Vice President Mike Pence, who will be in Iowa Wednesday and has made nearly ten trips to South Carolina the past two years as he enjoys strong bonds with the state’s evangelical community, which plays an outsized role in GOP primary politics in the Palmetto State.

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Haley may not have the home field advantage in South Carolina to herself. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, who pundits view as a potential presidential contender, appears to also be gearing up for a White House run and heads to Iowa next week as part of a listening tour that was first reported recently by Fox News.

Among the others making moves toward launching a campaign or seriously considering a Republican presidential run are former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who’s currently on a book tour; now-former Govs. Larry Hogan of Maryland and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas; Govs. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Glenn Youngkin of Virginia; former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and former Rep. Will Hurd of Texas.

Haley, the daughter of immigrants from India, grew up to become South Carolina’s first female governor and the nation’s first female governor of Asian American heritage. And while polls indicate she enters the race as an underdog in comparison to Trump and potentially DeSantis, Haley has a history of winning tough elections.Β 

In 2004, she defeated the state’s longest-serving state House member in the GOP primary, en route to winning a state legislative seat. And six years later, she topped a congressman and the state’s lieutenant governor and attorney general in the Republican gubernatorial primary, ahead of her general election victory.

Touting her electoral successes, Haley tells crowds that she’s “never lost an election” and that “when people underestimate me, it’s always fun.”

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