Nikki Haley is getting closer to launching her presidential campaign, according to a source familiar with the plans but not authorised to speak publicly about them.
Supporters of the former South Carolina governor will receive an email invitation to a Feb. 15 launch event in Charleston, where she plans to announce her campaign.
The Post and Courier of Charleston were the first to report on Haley’s plans. The politician, 51, was the governor of South Carolina for six years before becoming President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations.
When she enters the race, Haley will be the first candidate to challenge her former boss, who is currently the sole Republican seeking his party’s nomination in 2024.
Trump was in South Carolina on Saturday for the first campaign swing of his 2024 campaign, joining Gov. Henry McMaster — Haley’s lieutenant governor — and several GOP members of the state’s delegation as part of his leadership team in the early-voting state.
During Trump’s presidency, Haley occasionally clashed with other White House officials while bolstering her own public persona.
Her departure in 2018 fueled speculation that she would run against Trump in 2020, or that she would replace Vice President Mike Pence on the ticket, but Haley did neither.
Instead, Haley returned to South Carolina, where she purchased a home on Kiawah Island, joined the board of Boeing Co., and began a speaking career, reportedly commanding fees of up to $200,000.
She wrote two books, a common step for many candidates on their way to the White House. After the Capitol siege on Jan. 6, Haley questioned Trump’s political future but said she would not challenge him in 2024.
Haley told AP in 2021 that she would not run if Trump is running, but she has since changed her tune, ramping up activity through her Stand for America nonprofit and political action committee and endorsing dozens of candidates in the 2022 midterm elections.
During a visit to her alma mater late last year, Haley told an audience at Clemson University that she would be “taking the holidays” to consider a run.
When asked recently why she is considering a run despite her comments about 2021, Haley told newsmen that “a lot has changed,” referring to, among other things, the United States’ economic woes.
She went on to say she hoped to be a part of a “new generational change,” an allusion to Trump’s advanced age.
Meanwhile, Trump told WIS-TV in South Carolina on Saturday that Haley had called him several days earlier to seek his opinion. Trump cited her earlier pledge not to run against him but claimed he made no attempt to prevent her from doing so.
In Trump’s words, “She said she would never run against me because I was the greatest president, but people change their opinions, and they change what’s in their hearts. So I said, if your heart wants to do it, you have to go do it.”