Recently, Nikki Haley (Nimrata Nikki Randhawa), the former Governor of South Carolina, entered the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Nikki Haley was first elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2004, serving three terms. In 2010, she became Governor of S.C. for six years before becoming our UN Ambassador during the first two years of the Trump Administration (The first Indian American to serve as a presidential cabinet member.)
Seriously, who is Nikki Haley? What does she stand for? What did she accomplish as Governor of South Carolina in that six years? Does she have consistent principles to speak of? This article attempts to outline some of the things she has done and said over the last thirteen or so years.
WHAT DOES SHE THINK OF TRUMP? IS IT TRANSACTIONAL?
In early 2016, Ms. Haley had this to say about Trump: "Donald Trump is everything we teach our kids not to do in kindergarten." She goes on, "We have seen behavior repeatedly that is just unacceptable. During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices," Haley said from the Governor's residence. However, she eventually endorsed him, and after Trump was elected, Ms. Haley accepted a position in his administration.
After the January 6th, 2021, storming of the capital, she was "disgusted" by his actions. Recently, she called him a friend and attempts, for the most part, not to criticize him directly. So I'll ask again: what does Nikki Haley think of Donald Trump? And what is Nikki Haley up to?
CNN TOWN HALL
On June 4th this year, Haley did a town hall with CNN in Iowa. During part of the event, Haley claims that crime is at an all-time high. Experts state that U.S. crime levels in 2022-23 are nowhere near the rates of the early 1990s. For example 1992, the U.S. crime rate was about 758 per 100,000 people. Even though there was an uptick in 2020, the violent crime rate remained below 400 per 100,000 people. Experts say there hasn't been a spike over the last few years that would place crime levels today close to the 1990s. Who is she pandering too with such claims?
About a month ago, a brief television interview of Haley appeared as she was running for Governor in 2010. During that interview, as she was being interviewed by the CCC (white nationalist group), she defended the state's right to secede from the Union. Is it evident that someone with those views can be a viable candidate for Federal office? Will she say or do whatever it takes to gain or remain in power?
Her stance on taxes was similar. As Governor, Haley called for tax cuts today and tomorrow, borrowing from right-wing talking points. During her administration, she suggested a cut in income taxes. However, her fellow Republicans thought these tax cuts would be too severe. Another is a tax swap, reducing the marginal tax rate for wealthy South Carolinians for an increased gas fee (everyone pays).
IS AMERICA RACIST? WHAT IS NIKKI HALEY UP TO?
On several occasions recently, Nikki Haley stated emphatically that the United States is not a racist country – no systematic racism occurs here. For example, at the Republican National Convention 2020, she said, "That is a lie. America is not a racist country." However, she's also repeatedly stated about the discrimination she and her parents faced in the United States over the years. Either she's talking from both sides of her mouth, or racism has ceased to exist over the last few years.
REMOVAL OF CONFEDERATE FLAG AS GOVERNOR OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Three weeks after a White supremacist killed Black churchgoers at African Methodist Church in 2015, Haley took the lead in removing the Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina State House.
But for years before the mass shooting, Haley had dodged the issue, falsely claiming there was no push in South Carolina for the flag to come down. During a debate in 2014, she said, "What I can tell you is over the last three and a half years, I spent a lot of my days on the phones with CEOs and recruiting jobs to this state; I can honestly say I have not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag."
First, why would she only use CEO feedback to determine how she will handle this controversy? Does she consider that most of those contributing to her campaign are in that affluent class? Second, let's be honest; most CEOs represent the company and shareholders and such politics to the side. Their goal is to build the business, so why would they even bring up the Confederate flag – that's too controversial, a subject many wise people avoid.
Still, by deciding to remove the flag at the time she did, Haley successfully sold the idea that she cared and initiated that action proactively. One question: will she bring up her supposed "courage" during her campaign as she runs for president of the USA without providing the necessary context?
DENIED EXPANSION OF MEDICAID
During the Obama Administration in 2013, Governor Haley and the General Assembly denied the expansion of Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act. She appeared to be determined to ensure some of her constituents wouldn’t get Medicaid coverage if their income were slightly above the federal poverty line, even though the U.S. government would fund most of the amount for expanding the joint state-federal program.
Many observers of South Carolinian politics said it was politically motivated – a governor of S.C. would not expand Medicaid under President Obama's watch. It was reported that if the Haley administration had accepted the Medicaid expansion, the University of South Carolina estimated the state, by 2020, could have seen an additional 44,000 jobs with the federal investment. Also, some health experts predicted this expansion could have saved 200 lives annually.
At a Conservative Political Action Conference in 2013, Haley said, “Not in South Carolina. We will not expand Medicaid ever. We will make sure that we take care of the people we know best to take care of, and we don't need Washington's help to do it." The uninsured rate in South Carolina at the time was almost 19%. Interestingly, Haley, a "pro-life" advocate, stood in the way of saving lives through the Medicaid expansion offered during the Obama administration.
IS SHE QUALIFIED TO BE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF?
In 2010, Haley was elected Governor of South Carolina and was reelected in 2014. She served two years as Governor before resigning as Governor to assume a position in the Trump Administration. (Let's not forget that Haley, earlier in her career, said that elected politicians should be committed to serving out their full term.) In early 2017, President Trump chose her as the U.N. ambassador, and she served for nearly two years, resigning at the end of 2018.
Some skeptics may say she had much better aspirations before she took this position – commander in chief? Perhaps lacking foreign policy experience, this U.N. position would provide two things: international and geopolitical exposure for two years and the role that would give her gravitas to discuss foreign policy issues and challenges. Without having a degree in American history or international relations but one in accounting, getting as much foreign policy is critical for someone in her position with aspirations for higher office.
She’s entitled to run for President in 2024, but is she qualified? Does she have solid principles she intends to use as President, or is she willing to say whatever is necessary to gain power? Does she have enough foreign policy experience to be an effective Commander-in-Chief, considering her only foreign policy experience was the two-year UN position? Would she represent all Americans as President? Does she want a job where she'll only be confronted with the most difficult and challenging issues as President? Is this a money grab? Or is she trying to remain current to secure the VP nomination or land a cabinet position if a Republican wins in 2024?