Nikki Haley to focus on China, Russia in first 2024 White House campaign stop

Nikki Haley to focus on China, Russia in first 2024 White House campaign stop


Nikki Haley to focus on China, Russia in first 2024 White House campaign stop

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley is expected to focus on the threats China and Russia pose to the United States and the need for fresh blood atop the Republican ticket in the first stop of her campaign for the 2024 presidential nomination on Wednesday.

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 the anger of Donald Trump, who is seeking a return to the White House.

The 51-year-old former South Carolina governor declared her candidacy on Tuesday, saying in a video shared with supporters that Republicans need a new slate of leaders if they are to win, a veiled jab at Trump, who some Republican leaders blame for the party's disappointing performance in November's midterm elections.

Haley also harked back to her foreign policy experience.

"China and Russia are on the march. They all think we can be bullied, kicked. You should know this about me: I don't put up with bullies. And when you kick back, it hurts them more if you're wearing heels," she said in the video.

China has captured renewed attention in the United States over the past week after the U.S. military shot down what officials said was a Chinese spy balloon off the South Carolina coast. That turned out to be the first in a series of unexplained airborne objects that have attracted the scrutiny of national security officials.

Haley served as Trump's ambassador to the United Nations in 2017 and 2018, when the United States pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, which was signed under Democratic President Barack Obama and was unpopular among Republicans.
She is scheduled to speak in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, at 11 a.m. local time (1600 GMT).

She faces an uphill climb: a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday 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.

At her kickoff speech, Haley is expected to make the case that generational change is needed within the party, said one close advisor given anonymity to preview the remarks. Haley is decades younger than Trump, who is 76, and Biden, who is 80.

Haley served as South Carolina's governor from 2011 through 2017. The state holds one of the first Republican primary contests.

Haley is later slated to swing through Iowa and New Hampshire, which will hold the first and second Republican nominating contests of the 2024 campaign cycle.

She may not be the only South Carolina Republican eyeing the White House. U.S. 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.