After Highly Praised Service at United Nations, What’s Next for Nikki Haley?
-By Jim Owen
Nikki Haley’s service as ambassador to the United Nations recently came to an end, but many observers think she has a promising political future.
The former South Carolina governor has decided to step down after representing the United States at the international assembly for more than a year and a half. She will continue in her position through the end of the year. She earned widespread praise, from some Democrats as well as Republicans, for taking positions that did not always align with Trump’s beliefs.
Haley explained in an op-ed for The Washington Post that she is sometimes at odds with Trump’s positions. The key, she wrote, is to find an effective method of communicating her disagreements – either on the phone or face-to-face.
At a press conference announcing her resignation, Nikki Haley told reporters that she considered it a “blessing” to serve her country as UN ambassador. She vowed to continue “fighting” for the United States in whatever role she takes on next. Trump praised Haley for her “fantastic” performance in the high-profile position the past two years. He expressed regret that she was stepping down.
The president reportedly considered the ambassador his favorite appointed official. She was politically valuable as one of the few high-profile women in the administration.
Why Did She Resign
Haley’s associates told The New York Times that she stepped down due to “fatigue.”They suggested that she was looking forward to making money in the private sector before mulling a return to politics. According to Haley’s latest financial-disclosure report, she owed more than $1.5 million to creditors.
Another possible reason for the resignation was that a liberal watchdog group had demanded an investigation of Haley for accepting free private-airplane flights from former campaign contributors. She denied having violated ethics rules.
Possible Future Plans
Republicans view Haley as a rising star in their party who might someday run for president. The daughter of immigrants from India insists that she has no plans to challenge Trump for the GOP nomination in 2020, but she may throw her hat into the ring in 2024 or a later election cycle.
Haley would have a better shot at victory in a presidential campaign that does not involve an incumbent candidate, former South Carolina Republican chairman Matt Moore told the Times. In that scenario, it would be easier for the ex-ambassador to exhibit her “incredible political skills,” he said.
Haley does not need to be in a hurry to pursue any ambitions she may be harboring. At just 46 years of age, she is younger than most of her political contemporaries. She has endeared herself to the Republican establishment, with her “charisma” and proven ability to lead under stressful conditions, the Washington Examiner raved.
The president nominated Haley for the ambassador post even though she supported two of his rivals in the 2016 White House race, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Haley’s Political Stances
The BBC noted that Haley established her conservative credentials during two terms as governor by speaking out against Obamacare and opposing the resettlement of Syrian refugees in South Carolina. However, she also called for the removal of a Confederate flag from the state Capitol grounds following a 2015 mass shooting at an African-American church in Charleston.
Among the governor’s supporters were activists affiliated with the Tea Party movement, including former Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin. Haley was the youngest top state official in the country and just the second Indian-American to hold such a position. She previously served as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives for six years.
Trump, despite his previous criticism of Haley, called her a “proven dealmaker” when he nominated her for UN ambassador. The president predicted that she would become “a great leader representing us on the world stage.”
Though Democrats claimed that Haley lacked the foreign-policy experience necessary to do the job, she proved to be a fast learner. She sharply rebuked North Korea for its nuclear-weapons program, denounced Syria’s president for killing his own people with chemical weapons, and successfully advocated U.S. withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council.
Haley strongly defended Israel, opposing UN resolutions that denounced the country’s policies concerning the Palestinians and backing Trump’s proposal to name Jerusalem the Israeli capital. She argued for more international action to rein in Iran and Venezuela, and supported the administration’s trade policies.
Haley risked harming her relationship with Trump when she weighed in on his past sexual misconduct. She said during a CBS News interview that women who are victims of harassment or assault are entitled to going public with their stories and demanding justice.
The ambassador showed her independence again in April, after announcing that the United States would impose sanctions on Russia for its support of the Syrian regime. White House officials said Haley was “confused” about the matter, prompting her to declare: “I don’t get confused.”
Haley also distanced herself from Trump by criticizing Russian leader Vladimir Putin. “We don’t trust Russia, we don’t trust Putin, we never will,” she told the Christian Broadcasting Network in July. She said Russians are not friends of the United States, and that the situation is not going to change any time soon.
Unlike the president, Haley did not question U.S. intelligence agencies’ assertion that Kremlin operatives interfered in the 2016 election. She blasted Russia’s annexation of Crimea and accused Putin of ordering the attempted murder of a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom.
However, Haley defended Trump’s plan to meet with the Russian strongman. She noted that the president has sat down with other world leaders without getting criticized for doing so. She cited Trump’s negotiations with Chinese President Xi as an example of his preference to confront other heads of state in person.