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Nikki Haley Launches Historic Presidential Bid, A High-Profile Test of How a Woman of Color is Received by GOP Primary Voters

Nikki Haley has become the first major Republican to challenge Donald Trump in the 2024 presidential race, and her candidacy marks a historic moment for the GOP.[0] As the first woman of color, and the fifth woman ever to run for the Republican presidential nomination, Haley will be a high-profile test of how a woman of color is received by Republican primary voters.

Haley, a former governor of South Carolina, was appointed by Trump to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.[1] On Tuesday, she declared her intention to run for the White House in a video in which she stated that it is “time for a new generation of leadership to rediscover fiscal responsibility, secure our border and strengthen our country, our pride and our purpose.”[1]

Haley has a history of taking on bullies and standing up to powerful people. In 2015, after a white supremacist massacred nine people at a Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, Haley called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds.[2] She has also been critical of former President Donald Trump, endorsing several of his rivals in the 2016 primaries and saying she was “not a fan” of his.[3]

Haley's candidacy will be a high-profile test of how a woman of color is received by Republican primary voters. She has said that, despite experiencing racism herself, she does not consider the US to be institutionally racist.[3] In her announcement video, she declared, “Nothing could be further from the truth.”[4]

Haley has embraced her role as a trailblazer.[5] In 2004, she began her political journey by defeating the incumbent Republican state House member in a primary, becoming the longest-serving state House member. After being elected, she challenged the House speaker and leadership.[5] In 2010, she managed to secure backing from the Tea Party despite being a huge underdog in the race for governor. She went from the bottom of the polls to beating out a congressman, lieutenant governor, and attorney general to become the Republican nominee.[5]

Haley has said she will not be bullied, and in her announcement video she said, “You should know this about me. I don’t put up with bullies.[6] And when you kick back, it hurts them more if you’re wearing heels.[6] I’m Nikki Haley, and I’m running for president.[7]

0. “Nikki Haley to formally enter 2024 presidential race” Axios, 15 Feb. 2023, https://www.axios.com/2023/02/15/nikki-haley-2024-president-run

1. “Nikki Haley Breaks Trump's Golden Rule” Newsweek, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-nikki-haley-loyalty-2024-election-1781237

2. “Nikki Haley announces she is running for president” The Washington Post, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/02/14/nikki-haley-president-campaign-2024/

3. “Nikki Haley: Who is the Republican presidential hopeful?” BBC, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-64643005

4. “Nikki Haley launches presidential campaign, challenging Trump for GOP nomination” ABC News, 14 Feb. 2023, https://abcnews.go.com/US/nikki-haley-launches-presidential-campaign/story?id=97168476

5. “Haley enters the fray, a female candidate against a man known for mocking them” POLITICO, 15 Feb. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/02/15/haley-against-trump-00082920

6. “Nikki Haley's Announcement Video Is a Sloppy Mess” New York Magazine, 14 Feb. 2023, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2023/02/nikki-haley-needs-to-work-on-her-presidential-elevator-pitch.html

7. “WH: UFOs likely research or commercial, Haley kicks off presidential run: 5 Things podcast” USA TODAY, 15 Feb. 2023, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2023/02/15/wh-ufos-likely-commercial-haley-begins-wh-bid-5-things-podcast/11262077002