February 2, 2023
Nikki Haley, a former United Nations ambassador and governor of South Carolina, is planning to announce that she will run for president—positioning herself to be the first declared Republican challenger to Donald Trump at a time when other prospective candidates have sput the brakes on their moves, reports The Washington Post.
Haley could release a video signaling her decision as soon as this week, a strategy—as described by multiple people briefed on the plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity—intended to drive attendance and enthusiasm for an in-person announcement event in the coming weeks.
She plans to officially announce her run in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 15, according to one person briefed on the plans—a date first reported by the Post and Courier newspaper in that city. Some political advisers have been relocating to the Charleston area for the campaign.
Haley’s decision to lean into the race bucks the more cautious strategy adopted by most other potential candidates, who have decided there is no need to rush their preparations. Advisers to these Republicans, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations, said there is wariness about becoming an early target of former President Trump.
Some of the advisers also voiced hope that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), who has made preliminary moves toward a run, faces early scrutiny because of his high national polling—scrutiny that could work to their advantage. They added that there is a general sense in their circles that there is enough time to learn more about how the race will play out and still attract donors, get on ballots, and build campaign infrastructure.
“There’s no benefit to being in early,” said David Urban, a former Trump adviser who is friendly with multiple would-be 2024 candidates. “You don’t want to be in the ring getting banged on by the former president in a one-on-one. There’s no reason anyone has to get in right now. There’s no urgency for anyone. Everyone is sitting and waiting.”
Much of the consequential action in the race so far has taken place in private conversations and strategy sessions rather than early-state barnstorms, such as methodical preparation by aides to former Vice President Mike Pence, and DeSantis advisers’ behind-the-scenes moves to identify potential staff and plan travel.
Even Trump has moved slowly after his early announcement. The former president hit the trail this past weekend for the first time since launching his campaign in November, promising a campaign “about the future” and “about issues” even as he returned to some old grievances — falsely telling Republicans in New Hampshire that he “won two general elections,” a reference to his claims of victory in 2020. Some Republican leaders have urged the party to move on and view the ex-president as politically weakened after disappointing midterms in which Trump’s endorsed candidates lost key races.
There are also Republicans who maintain hope that Trump might simply lose interest in running; they note that he has not filed a personal financial disclosure report, asking for two extensions. But others view Trump as the most likely GOP nominee, pointing to the demonstrated base of support he has built within the party that others have yet to match.
Speaking in New Hampshire and then South Carolina on Saturday, the former president—appearing at smaller-scale events than he typically held in past campaigns—promised a return “soon” to the big rallies he is known for and insisted, “I’m more angry now, and I’m more committed now than I ever was.”
Haley, who served as U.N. ambassador under Trump, said in 2021 that she wouldn’t run for president if Trump did. But she later changed course and during the past few months has been teasing campaign plans. In a recent interview with Fox News, Haley indicated she was moving quickly toward a decision and said there’s a need for “new leadership.”
“And can I be that leader? Yes, I think I can be that leader,” she said. If she won the GOP nomination, Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, would be the first woman and the first Asian American to lead the party’s ticket.
Research contact: @washingtonpost