Former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley said on Wednesday it was time to move past “stale ideas” and called for a new generation of leaders at the first stop of her campaign for the Republican nomination for U.S. president in 2024. Zachary Goelman from our partners at Reuters produced this report.
“For a strong America, for a proud America, I am running for president of the United States of America!”
At her first public campaign event since announcing her candidacy, Republican Nikki Haley on Wednesday declared she would seek her party’s nomination for president. The 51-year-old former governor of South Carolina spoke to a crowd in Charleston, and repeatedly underscored the need for new and younger leadership.
“We’re ready, ready to move past the stale ideas and faded names of the past. And we are more than ready for a new generation to lead us into the future.”
Haley’s entry into the Republican primary makes her the first to challenge former president Donald Trump, who launched a third bid for the White House last year. And her announcement may give her an early and much needed boost as Republican donors and voters weigh whether or not to back Trump after Republicans during his administration lost the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the presidency.
But since declaring her candidacy, Haley has yet to offer any direct criticism of her former boss. Trump tapped Haley to represent the U.S. at the United Nations, her highest public role to date. She left the administration in 2018 on good terms with 45th president, though at times she has been critical of him. And no one on stage at Haley’s event Wednesday spoke Trump’s name. But it seemed to offer signals that Trump-supporters could find favor with the former governor.
Among the speakers, Christian evangelical giant Pastor John Hagee, who endorsed Trump in 2016. And the mother of Otto Warmbier, an American imprisoned in North Korea, freed under the Trump administration, and who died of injuries shortly after he returned home.
“I’m here to tell you that we need Nikki Haley fighting for all our children the way she fought for Otto.”
Cindy Warmbier praised Haley for her courage in standing up to Pyongyang, without mentioning who was president at the time.
On policy, Haley spoke of securing borders, cutting taxes, and pushing back on what she called socialism. But she kept returning to the subject of age:
“We won’t win the fight for the 21st Century, if we keep trusting politicians from the 20th Century.” [flash] “America is not past our prime. It’s just that our politicians are past theirs.”
These lines seemed aimed at 80-year-old Democratic President Joe Biden, but could apply equally to 76-year-old Donald Trump.
Age isn’t the only gap between Trump and Haley: A Reuters/Ipsos poll this week found that Trump had the support of 43% of registered Republicans. Haley had the support of just 4%.
If she wins, the daughter of Indian immigrants would be the first non-white or female Republican presidential nominee.