Nikki calls for new Republican leadership as she launches 2024 bid

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters): Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley said it was time to move past “stale ideas” and called for a new generation of leaders at the first stop of her campaign for the Republican nomination for US president in 2024.

Haley is just the second declared candidate seeking the Republican nod to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden in 2024, allowing her to stand out in a so-far uncrowded field but also exposing her to former President Donald Trump’s anger.

The 51-year-old former South Carolina governor declared her candidacy with a video that called for new party leadership – a veiled jab at Trump, who some Republican leaders blame for the party’s disappointing performance in November’s midterm elections. “We’re ready. Ready to move past the stale ideas and faded names of the past. And we are more than ready for a new generation to lead us into the future,”

Haley told a crowd of hundreds at the Charleston Visitors Center in the historic city’s downtown.

Haley supporters at the event agreed with her calls for new leadership in the Republican party. “I think Trump can be very polarizing and divisive at times,” said Tim Jansen, 54, a Haley supporter from Charleston. “I would like to see a little more tolerance, a little more communication. Flexibility.” Haley received an endorsement from prominent South Carolina Republican Ralph Norman, a member of the US House of Representatives’ conservative Freedom Caucus who was a staunch supporter of Trump during his presidency.

“It’s time for a reset and a new chapter in national Republican politics, and there’s no better person to help write that new chapter than our former governor,” Norman wrote on Twitter. Haley faces an uphill climb in her bid for the nomination: a Reuters/Ipsos poll released found that just 4% of registered Republicans supported Haley. Trump received support from 43% of registered Republicans in the poll conducted from Feb. 6-13, while 31% said they supported Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is expected to launch a campaign but has not yet done so.
Haley served as South Carolina’s governor from 2011 through 2017. The state holds one of the first Republican primary contests. She may not be the only South Carolina Republican eyeing the White House. US Senator Tim Scott, often considered a presidential contender himself, will kick off a “listening tour focused on Faith in America” in Charleston a day after Haley’s event, according to a campaign advisory.

He will then swing through Iowa, another key early voting state. Haley received national attention in 2015 when, as governor, she called for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state capitol after the murder of nine black churchgoers by white supremacist Dylann Roof. But she later drew criticism in a 2019 interview when she said the flag represents “service, sacrifice and heritage,” adding that its meaning had been hijacked by Roof. If she wins, she would be the first non-white or female Republican presidential nominee.