The former Republican South Carolina governor and Donald Trump’s US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley will use the coming Christmas holidays to decide whether to launch a run for the White House in 2024.
Speaking in her home state and at her alma mater, Clemson University, on Tuesday, Haley said: “We are taking the holidays to kind of look at what the situation is. If we decide to get into it, we’ll put 1,000% in, and we’ll finish it.”
Haley, who made a relatively dignified exit from the Trump administration by resigning as UN ambassador in 2018, previously said she would not run for president if Trump did.
Trump is running again, having announced his third consecutive candidacy in Florida earlier this month. But senior Republicans now increasingly see Trump as damaged goods, in light of a poor midterms performance in which his endorsed candidates struggled; the likelihood of indictment in a number of criminal cases; and amid fallout from his recent decision to have dinner with Nick Fuentes, a white supremacist and antisemite.
Haley, whose parents were Indian, would be the first woman to announce a run for the Republican nomination in two years’ time.
Earlier this month, at a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, she said: “A lot of people have asked if I’m going to run for president. Now that the midterms are over, I’ll look at it in a serious way, and I’ll have more to say soon.
“For now, I’ll say this. I’ve won tough primaries and tough general elections. I’ve been the underdog every single time. When people underestimate me, it’s always fun. But I’ve never lost an election. And I’m not going to start now.”
Polling suggests that if Haley wants to maintain that record, she may be best advised not to run.
Trump and a current southern governor, Ron DeSantis of Florida, dominate surveys of Republican voters.
Though senior party figures including Trump’s vice-president, Mike Pence, and his second secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, have made their ambitions clear, DeSantis is Trump’s only close rival in such polls.
Haley campaigned for Republican candidates in the midterm elections, including the Trump endorsee Herschel Walker, whose Senate contest against the Democrat Raphael Warnock remains to be decided.
At Clemson, Haley dodged a chance to blame Trump for the party’s poor performance, in which it failed to take the Senate and won the House by only a narrow margin.
The midterms flop, she said, was “no one person’s fault”, adding that Republicans should “look in the mirror and realise that we have some work to do, and we’ve got some soul-searching to do”.
Republicans, Haley said, “fought each other and the Democrats. And so when you have that kind of chaos, what did that tell the American people? That told the American people that we were not unified.”
Speaking ahead of possible entry into a presidential primary likely to be many sided and viciously fought, not least by Trump himself, she added: “The American people don’t want a party that’s in chaos.”