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Nikki Haley: Keys to understand the GOP candidate

The former Governor of South Carolina and US Ambassador to the UN is now looking for the candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination

La candidata presidencial republicana y ex embajadora de Estados Unidos ante las Naciones Unidas Nikki Haley habla durante el cuarto debate de candidatos republicanos de la campaña presidencial estadounidense de 2024 organizado por NewsNation en la Universidad de Alabama en Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Estados Unidos, el 6 de diciembre de 2023.
Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during the fourth Republican candidates' debate of the 2024 U.S. presidential campaign hosted by NewsNation at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, U.S., December 6, 2023.BRIAN SNYDER (REUTERS)
Alonso Martínez

Although the most likely candidate for the GOP in the 2024 presidential elections remains Donald Trump, Nikki Haley has been in the spotlight lately as one of the main figures that could take the place of the former president in the election. There have been reports of Haley receiving several endorsements from groups who see her as the next candidate for the party. Here’s the main questions about Haley answered:

Who is Nikki Haley?

Nikki Haley is an American politician of Indian descent. She was born in 1972 in Bamberg, South Carolina where her parents moved after living in Canada. Her birth name is Nimarata Nikki Randhawa. Her father was a professor of biology at Vorhees College until his retirement in 1998, while her mother also taught and started a popular women’s clothing boutique, Exotica International, in West Columbia, where Nikki started working as a bookkeeper when she was 12 years old.

She later became the first woman to serve as Governor of South Carolina before working as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, during the administration of President Donald Trump. Haley is currently fighting for the Republican Party’s nomination in the 2024 presidential race.

Where did Nikki Haley go to college?

Haley attended Clemson University, a public land-grant research university in Clemson, South Carolina. She graduated in 1994 with a BS degree in accounting and finance.

What did Nikki Haley do as governor of South Carolina?

Haley was elected as the 116th Governor of South Carolina in 2011. She was the first minority and female governor in the U.S. and the youngest governor of the country. Under her leadership, the state’s unemployment rate hit a 15-year law and it received over $20 billion in new capital investment, which led to new jobs in every county.

She was reelected in 2014. During the second tenure, Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Reaction to the Charleston church shooting

On June 17, 2015, a 21-year old self-identified white supremacist, shot and killed nine Black congregants during a Bible Study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina. A day after the shooting, many flags were flown at half-mast, except for the Confederate battle flag over the South Carolina Confederate Monument because of legal reasons.

This led to several calls by public figures (including then-President Barack Obama) to remove the flag from statehouse grounds and debates over its use by white supremacists. After receiving public pressure, Haley called for the flag to be removed stating that while it was “an integral part of our past, it does not represent the future” of South Carolina.

However, before the shooting, Haley supported flying the Confederate flag on the statehouse grounds and she didn’t take a position on removing it in the aftermath. It was only until June 22 that she called for the removal.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

In 2016, President Donald Trump nominated Governor Haley to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. She also served as a member of the President’s Cabinet and on the National Security Council.

As ambassador to the U.N. Haley consistently advocated for the American support of Israel and she withdrew the U.S. from the United Nations Human Rights Council (the Biden administration later rejoined). She defended the Trump administration’s withdrawals of the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement. Although she pushed for sanctions on Russia and Syria, they were blocked by the White House.

In 2017, she said she would not support a ban on Muslim immigration to the U.S. —a move pushed by the Trump administration— stating that a Muslim ban would be “un-american”.

What’s Nikki Haley’s stance on abortion?

Haley has described herself as pro-life and has a record of supporting legislation to restrict abortion, except when the mother’s life is at risk. However, in a 2023 interview she showed support for a proposal from Senator Lindsey Graham that would establish a 15-week abortion ban with exceptions for rape, incest, and health and life of the mother. She has expressed opposition to jail time or death penalty for women who have abortions.

What’s Nikki Haley’s stance on LGBTQ+ issues?

Although Haley said in 2013 that it was her constitutional duty to oppose gay marriage, in 2023 she said during a Des Moines Register Political Soapbox event: “People should live the way they want to live. I believe in freedom. I believe in making sure that people can live the way they want to live, and I believe the government needs to stay out of the way”. In April 2017, she spoke against the abuse and murder of gay men in Chechnya.

Haley was against the legislation introduced by the South Carolina State Senate which would require transgender individuals to use restrooms based on biological sex instead of gender identity. She stated in 2016 that such legislation was “unnecessary”.

Who is Nikki Haley’s husband?

Nikki and Michael Haley met at Clemson University in 1989. They married in 1996. He is a Captain in the Army National Guard and a combat veteran who was deployed to Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, where he served as a liaison between the military and civilian authorities.

Before working in the government, he was an employee at Exotica International, an upscale clothing store owned by Carole Randhawa, Nikki’s mother. After that he worked as a federal technician in the human resources department in the South Carolina Army National Guard.

As the First Gentleman of South Carolina, Haley chaired the foundation that oversees the preservation and management of the South Carolina Governor’s Mansion in Columbia. He is currently an investor and partner in several companies.

Who endorses Nikki Haley?

Koch Network, the political network founded by billionaire Charles and David Koch has endorsed Hailey in the Republican presidential nominating contest. Americans for Prosperity Action, a super PAC backed by the brothers, mentioned that it would not support Donald Trump and called Haley the candidate with the best shot against him in the GOP primary. Other public and political figures like Ken Langone, Ralph Noman, Will Hurd and Mike Gallagher have endorsed the candidate.

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