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Nikki Haley flip-flops on presidential plans and will challenge Donald Trump after all
If Your Time is short
Nikki Haley, former South Carolina governor, announced in a video Feb. 14 that she is running for president, the first major Republican to challenge former President Donald Trump.
On April 12, 2021 Haley told an Associated Press reporter that she would support Trump if he ran for the presidency again. "I would not run if President Trump ran, and I would talk to him about it."
In an Jan. 19 interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier, Haley said she thought it was time for a generational change. "If I'm this passionate, and I'm this determined, why not me?"
"I would not run (for president) if President Trump ran, and I would talk to him about it."
– Nikki Haley, April 12, 2021
"It’s time for a new generation of leadership. … I’m Nikki Haley and I’m running for president."
– Nikki Haley, Feb. 14, 2023
Nikki Haley, former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador under former President Donald Trump, announced that she is running for president in 2024.
Haley becomes the first major Republican primary challenger to Trump, who announced his new White House run Nov. 15.
In a Feb. 14 announcement video, Haley, 51, said, "It’s time for a new generation of leadership. … I’m Nikki Haley and I’m running for president."
Less than two years earlier, Haley said she wouldn’t run against Trump.
We are putting Haley’s statements about her presidential ambitions on PolitiFact’s Flip-O-Meter, which measures the extent to which a politician flips position on an issue, without making a judgment call about those changes.
Haley has plenty of company among politicians who have flip-flopped on political ambitions. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said in 2016 that he wouldn’t run for a third term. But in January, Johnson said he is running again for office, for a third senatorial term. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., ran in 2015 vowing that he would either be president or a private citizen after the 2016 presidential race, but then dropped out of that race and ran for reelection in the Senate. Joe Biden said in 2007 and 2008 that he wasn’t interested in the vice presidency, until he was.
Many Republicans criticized Trump in the days and weeks after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. But some of them later softened their stances about Trump, including Haley, who praised his February 2021 speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Haley told Politico’s Tim Alberta in a February 2021 article that she felt anger watching Trump’s remarks about Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6. (Trump said in his speech before rioters descended on the Capitol that "Pence is going to have to come through for us. And if he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country because you’re sworn to uphold our Constitution.")
Haley said Trump "had lost any sort of political viability he was going to have" and predicted he would not run again for office.
"I don't think he's going to be in the picture," Haley told Politico. "I don't think he can. He's fallen so far."
On April 12, 2021, Haley was touring South Carolina State University when AP reporter Meg Kinnard asked Haley whether she would support Trump if he ran again in 2024.
Kinnard: Trump "still has a lot of popularity. If he runs again in 2024 will you support him?"
Kinnard: "If he decides that he is going to run, would that preclude any sort of run that you would possibly make yourself?"
Haley: "I would not run if President Trump ran, and I would talk to him about it. That’s something that we’ll have a conversation about at some point, if that decision is something that has to be made."
Haley said she had a "great working relationship with him" and wanted to "keep building on what we accomplished."
But the AP noted that Haley had made moves to position herself to run for president, including moving back to South Carolina in 2019 after resigning in late 2018 as U.N. ambassador. In 2021, Haley launched her Stand for America PAC to support conservative candidates for public office.
In an October 2021 interview with The Wall Street Journal, Haley hinted that she would consider running for president.
"In the beginning of 2023, should I decide there’s a place for me, should I decide there’s a reason to move, I would pick up the phone and meet with the president," Haley said. "I would talk to him and see what his plans are. I would tell him about my plans. We would work on it together."
Fox News’ Bret Baier asked Haley on Jan. 19 whether she would announce her run for president and about her 2021 remarks to the AP.
Baier asked, "Obviously, President Trump, former President Trump, is running. What has changed, if you are where you are?"
Haley said she had a "great working relationship" with Trump. She continued:
"But what I will tell you is, the survival of America matters. And it's bigger than one person. And when you're looking at the future of America, I think it's time for new generational change. I don't think you need to be 80 years old to go be a leader in D.C. I think we need a young generation to come in, step up, and really start fixing things."
She didn’t mention Trump (age 76) or President Joe Biden (age 80) by name, but then took a swipe at Biden’s administration.
"And all of that, when I said that, was before we surrendered to Afghanistan. It was before we saw this high inflation and high crime. It was before we saw drugs infesting all of our states. It was before we saw our foreign policy in disarray. So, a lot has changed. And when I look at that, I look at the fact, if I'm this passionate, and I'm this determined, why not me?"
Haley said that "politics is a blood sport" and "may the best woman win."
Trump told radio host Hugh Hewitt in early February that Haley called him about her plans and he told her to "follow her heart."
"She just couldn’t stay in her seat," Trump said Feb. 2. "And I said you know what? Nikki, if you want to run, you go ahead and run."
In an announcement video Feb. 14, Haley said, "It’s time for a new generation of leadership."
She did not address why she changed her mind about opposing Trump. A spokesperson for Haley’s PAC did not comment on the record to PolitiFact about Haley’s decision.
Haley in the video talked about being a "proud daughter of Indian immigrants. Not black. Not white. I was different."
Haley referenced the 2015 mass shooting at a Charleston, South Carolina, church, where a white supremacist killed nine Black people.
"When evil did come we turned away from fear toward God and the values that still make our country the freest and greatest in the world," Haley said. "We must turn in that direction again. Republicans have lost the popular vote in 7 out of the last 8 presidential elections. That has to change. …The Washington establishment has failed us over and over and over again. It's time for a new generation of leadership. …. I am Nikki Haley and I am running for president."
Haley’s campaign website includes a 2018 video of Trump praising Haley’s service as U.N. ambassador and as governor. "We will miss you …. You have done a fantastic job," Trump said in the video.
Haley in 2021 said that she would not run for president if Trump ran.
On Feb. 14, Haley announced her bid for the presidency, saying, "It’s time for a new generation of leadership."
We rate her complete change in position a Full Flop.
RELATED: Nikki Haley on the Truth-O-Meter
RELATED: Donald Trump on the Truth-O-Meter
Nikki Haley, Announcement video, Feb. 14, 2023
Post and Courier, Haley: Trump was 'badly wrong' in stoking crowd before riot, Jan. 9, 2021
AP reporter Meg Kinnard, Interview with Nikki Haley, April 12, 2021
AP, Haley says she’ll back Trump, stand down if he runs in 2024, April 12, 2021
Politico, Nikki Haley’s Time for Choosing, Feb. 12, 2021
Washington Post, Republicans condemned Trump after the Capitol attack. Now, they are opening the door to him as the future of the party. March 3, 2021
Wall Street Journal, Nikki Haley embraces Trump in her vision of GOP future, Oct. 5, 2021
Washington Post, Nikki Haley and the biggest GOP flip-flops on Trump post-Jan. 6, ranked, Oct. 21, 2022
Post and Courier, It’s official: Nikki Haley running for president. Formal announcement Feb. 15, Jan. 31, 2023
AP, Nikki Haley planning Feb. 15 launch for 2024 White House bid, Feb. 1, 2023
Fox News, Interview with Nikki Haley, Jan. 19, 2023
Hugh Hewitt, Former President Donald Trump On Nikki Haley’s Announcement, Taiwan, Ukraine And More, Feb. 2, 2023
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Nikki Haley flip-flops on presidential plans and will challenge Donald Trump after all
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