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Haley kicks off the 2024 run with implicit contrasts to Trump


CHARLESTON, SC — Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley kicked off her presidential campaign on Wednesday and plunged into the fight against Donald Trump with a speech that sought implicit contrast but stopped short of directly attacking the former president.

Speaking at the open-air Charleston Visitor’s Center, the former governor of this state said under a large sign that read “Nikki Haley for President,” “We are ready, ready to put the old ideas and faded names of the past behind.” to let us. And we’re more than ready for a new generation to lead us into the future.” Supporters waved blue and white signs and small American flags to cheer her on.

The speech served as the launch event for Haley’s highly anticipated campaign, which she begins as an underdog. She announced in a video released Tuesday that she was running for president, following anticipated plans to be Trump’s first declared opponent in the Republican primary.

Haley’s approach echoes that of many other prominent Republicans seeking to challenge Trump, who have largely avoided direct public criticism of him. Current strategies mirror the 2016 primary, when many Republicans avoided going after Trump for fear of direct conflict and alienating a base of support that could ultimately be up for grabs. Trump won the nomination, thanks in no small part to broken resistance to him in the party as many rivals tried to sidestep him.

Some, like former Maryland governor Larry Hogan, have been blunt Trump critics. But those seen in the party as the top contenders to defeat Trump, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who would be a formidable Trump opponent in the early polls, have stuck to building their brands and emphasizing of implicit differences, such as DeSantis’ landslide election victory. in a year many other Republicans joined Trump and lost his ideas.

Haley’s only mention of Trump’s name in her speech came when she reminded her audience that he had nominated her for her post at the United Nations.

Tracking presidential candidates for the 2024 election

The video Haley released highlighted her gender and her family’s immigrant roots, as did her speech on Wednesday. If she wins the GOP primary, Haley would become the first woman and first Asian American to lead the party’s lottery. She was the country’s first female Asian American governor and the first Indian American to serve in the cabinet.

Haley, 51, is one of the youngest Republicans to express an interest in winning the presidency in 2024. She embraced term limits on members of Congress and recently shared an article about an interview from last year calling for “a kind of cognitive test” for elected officials “above a certain age.” President Biden is 80 and Trump is 76.

Haley repeatedly criticized President Biden by name on Wednesday, saying: “Our leaders are failing us. And no one embodies that failure better than Joe Biden.” Presenting herself as the future of the Republican leadership, Haley pinned the country’s faults on Biden, socialism and “self-loathing.”

She added that “America is not a racist country”, stating, “America is not past our prime. It’s just that our politicians are past theirs.”

“We will not win the battle for the 21st century if we continue to trust 20th century politicians,” she said.

At one point, Haley offered a targeted message to the GOP primary voters. “I have a special message for my fellow Republicans: We’ve lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections,” she said, echoing a theme from her announcement video. Trump lost the popular vote twice.

She challenged Republicans to channel their anger with recent electoral defeats. “Our cause is good, but we have failed to gain the trust of a majority of Americans. Well, that ends today,” Haley continued. “If you are tired of losing, trust in a new generation. And if you want to win – not just as a party, but as a country, stand with me.”

The primary field is expected to expand in the coming months, and Haley enters the race as an underdog — a position she’s accustomed to conquering, according to her supporters. Haley regularly remarks that she has never lost an election since her first grueling campaign for the state’s House of Representatives against an old incumbent.

Haley has shifted her attitude towards Trump over the years, initially criticizing him when he came to power in 2016, then joining his administration. She said she wouldn’t run in 2024 if Trump did, then backtracked on her comments. At times she has sharply criticized the former president and his rhetoric, at other times she has joined him.

“She started out as a Never Trumper before resigning to serve on the Trump admin,” Taylor Budowich, the head of the pro-Trump Make America Great Again PAC, said in a statement Tuesday. Now she tells us she represents a ‘new generation’. It certainly looks like more of the same, a career politician whose only fulfilled devotion is to himself.

Rep. Ralph Norman (RS.C.), a close ally of both Trump and Haley, endorsed Haley’s campaign on Wednesday, marking her first endorsement from a congressional legislator from her home state. Norman introduced Haley during her speech on Wednesday. “What we kick off today will make history,” he said, later thanking Trump for his performance.

“We are at a turning point in our country. While the Republican candidates, values ​​and messages have done very well here in South Carolina, that has not been the case everywhere in our great country. Norman tweeted earlier Wednesday. He added, “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 and my dear friend, Nikki Haley!”

Ahead of Haley’s event, supporters on the ground said they were eager to hear from her. Mary Ann Walkup, a retired teacher from Williston, South Carolina, said she was looking forward to hearing about Haley’s platform on foreign policy and the gas and oil industry.

Walkup, a supporter of Trump in the 2016 primary, said the 45th president “has done great things for our country.” This time, however, she said, “I think the Republican Party needs a new direction and I think Nikki Haley is the direction we need to go.”

Anastasia Jones, a kindergarten teacher from Charleston who supports Haley, said, “I think she has the experience, and yet she’s a little younger. I don’t think anyone needs to be in their late 70s or 80s to have the experience to do the job.”

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