Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley on Monday said she would back her onetime boss, former President Donald Trump, if he decides to run for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination again in 2024 and not mount a bid against him.
“Yes,” Haley, the former Republican governor of South Carolina, said in response to a question from The Associated Press during a news conference at South Carolina State University when asked if she would support another White House bid from Trump. Haley explained that she would not launch her own presidential campaign “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,” she said.
The comments from Haley — considered one of the most high-profile potential 2024 contenders — underscore the intense popularity that Trump still enjoys within the GOP. The former President has teased another White House bid in 2024 while also positioning himself as the Republican Party’s kingmaker in the 2022 midterm elections.
Haley has often attempted to walk a fine line between allying with Trump and distancing herself enough to appeal to his more moderate critics. She notably left his administration in 2018 on good terms with him, a contrast with many other officials, who have publicly fallen out with their former boss.
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But some of her sharpest criticism of Trump has come in recent months, following the January 6 insurrection.
“We need to acknowledge he let us down,” Haley told Politico magazine in an interview published in February. “He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that ever happen again.”
Asked how Trump should then be held accountable, Haley replied at the time, “I think he’s going to find himself further and further isolated.”
“I think his business is suffering at this point. I think he’s lost any sort of political viability he was going to have. I think he’s lost his social media, which meant the world to him,” she told Politico. “I mean, I think he’s lost the things that really could have kept him moving.”
But Haley struck a different tone about Trump on Monday, specifically defending his recent comments about top Republican leaders.
During a Republican National Committee donor retreat Saturday evening, the former President repeated familiar lies about the 2020 election and insulted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a person in the room told CNN.
“I think former President Trump’s always been opinionated,” Haley said at the news conference when asked about Trump’s comments.
“Just because he left being president, that’s not going to stop. But I think what he also talked about were all the successes that he had in the administration. And I think that’s what Republicans are uniting on.”