Nikki Haley Announces Run for President

The Race for the White House

You may remember Nikki Haley. She was, after all, the 116th Governor of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017. What happened to her? During the Trump Administration, she was appointed to be the 29th United States ambassador to the United Nations. Now, per her announcement in Charleston, Haley seeks to become the first woman elected to the presidency. After all, she was the first woman to serve as Governor of South Carolina. She also marks the first major challenger to former President Donald Trump for the 2024 Republican Nomination. 

“You should know this about me. I don’t put up with bullies. And when you kick back, it hurts them more if you’re wearing heels,” Haley said. “I’m Nikki Haley, and I’m running for president.”

If you asked Haley 2 years ago if she would challenge her former boss for the presidency, she would have told you no. However, she had a change of heart in recent months, citing economic troubles and a need for a new generation in the White House—Donald Trump and Joe Biden are 76 and 80, respectively. Haley is 51. 


Nikki Haley was born as Nimarata Nikki Randhawa in Bamberg, South Carolina, to immigrant Sikh parents from Punjab, India. Her parents owned a small foreign goods store that later evolved into a successful business. As a teenager, Haley worked at her family store, until enrolling in Clemson University to earn her B.S. in accounting in 1994. After graduating, she continued to help out at her family business. In 1996, she married Michael Haley. 

Nikki Haley with her husband, Michael, daughter Rena, and son Nalin

Start of Political Career

The start of her political career came in 2004 when she won a seat in the SC state House of Representatives (not the United States House of Representatives). Her campaign ran on a very traditional republican platform, including strict abortion restrictions, immigration controls, and tax cuts. In 2008, she was reelected. In 2010, she entered the South Carolina gubernatorial race. Notably, she was endorsed by Sarah Palin—who you must research if you are not familiar with her. The campaign was bitter with Haley being subjected to racist remarks and even accusations of infidelity. Despite these setbacks, Haley won the race. Her inauguration was a historic moment in the history of South Carolina: the first woman and the first person of ethnic minority to become governor of South Carolina. Her first term saw a drop in unemployment and steady economic growth, earning her reelection in 2014. During the 2016 Presidential election, she endorsed Texas Senator Ted Cruz and was notably critical of Donald Trump, especially his call to ban Muslims from entering the United States. 

Nikki Haley as Governor

Notable Confederate Flag Removal

In 2015, Haley received national attention when a man opened fire at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, an incident we are all familiar with. In the coming weeks, there was a lot of pressure to have the racist Confederate flag, flying high at the State Capital building, taken down. Despite Haley’s previous resistance to the idea, she did lead a successful movement that resulted in the racist symbol being taken down. 

Other Acts as Governor

In her first year in office, Haley cracked down on illegal immigration by establishing a new law enforcement unit and making police officers check the immigration status of people they stopped or arrested if they had any suspicion that that person might be from another country. She also made South Carolina the second state to drop the Common Core education standards because, she said, “We don’t ever want to educate South Carolina children like they educate California children.” 

UN Ambassador

As the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Haley was known for being very outspoken against Iran and North Korea. She both supported and occasionally contradicted President Donal Trump. In 2018, she supported the president’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. However, she was critical of Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential election, even referring to it as “warfare.” Of course, Donald Trump would disagree. In October 2018, she resigned as the UN Ambassador. After this, she continued to support Trump. Notably, she was critical of his January 2021 insurrection on the US Capitol (as everyone should be).

Nikki Haley at the United Nations

Political Platform

Haley supports strict-voter ID laws, opposes refugee resettlement, and is anti-choice. Her opposition to abortion rights stems from, as she claims, her own personal difficulty conceiving children, as well as the fact that her husband is adopted. When it comes to immigration, Haley is relatively middle ground compared to the new right under Donald Trump and has often called his immigration policies into question. In the first days of her campaign, she said that, if she becomes President, “voter I.D. will be the law of the land.” These types of laws have come under fire from the left because they prevent poor and often minority citizens from being able to use their voice just because they cannot present a proper ID. She supports term limits for congressional officials, as well as mental-competency tests for politicians older than 75. She claims that Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill does not go “far enough.” When it comes to healthcare, Haley kept the Affordable Care Act from expanding Medicaid in South Carolina. Now, the state is just one of 11 states that has yet to expand Medicaid to provide more healthcare coverage to its people. Haley supports tax cuts for corporate business, stating “The first thing we want to do is eliminate the corporate income tax” (2010). She believed this would attract more businesses to her state and create new jobs. 

As many of us here at Academic Magnet will be 18 by the 2024 Presidential Election, it is important that we all stay informed and updated on possible candidates and current events. Thank you for reading!