WASHINGTON – Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley will formally launch her 2024 presidential run on Feb. 15, becoming the first Republican to jump into the field to challenge to Donald Trump, according to multiple sources familiar with her plans.
Haley has teased her presidential run for weeks, including a tweeted video this week in which she said: “It’s time for a new generation to lead.”
Aides are putting together a Feb, 15 announcement event in Charleston, S.C., according to three sources familiar with her plans who spoke to USA TODAY on condition of anonymity.
In recent months, Haley has cast herself as a new kind of Republican who can take new approaches to the nation’s challenges, and to President Joe Biden and the Democrats.
“I think it’s time that we bring in a new generation that can bring in more people to our party,” Haley told Fox News in a recent interview.
Since Trump’s defeat in the 2020 presidential race, Haley has sent mixed signals about her presidential ambitions. In April of 2021, she told reporters that “I would not run if President Trump ran, and I would talk to him about it.”
In recent months, even after Trump announced his 2024 bid in mid-November, Haley has sounded out potential donors and staff members for a White House campaign of her own.
Haley criticized Trump’s leadership right after the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021, but has softened her tone in the two years since.
“If I run, I’m running against Joe Biden,” Haley told Fox. “That’s what I’m focused on.”
While campaigning Saturday in New Hampshire and South Carolina, Trump told reporters that Haley had called him about her prospective campaign. Trump said he had no problem with the idea, but noted that Haley once said she would not run if he did.
Discussing his conversation with Haley, Trump told reporters: “I said, look, you know, go by your heart if you want to run. She’s publicly said that I would never run against my President.”
Trump allies are already sharpening their knives. Steve Cortes, a commentator who has been a television surrogate for Trump, tweeted that “the ‘political weather vane'” is not to be trusted: “Haley gushes over Trump, then betrays him, then gushes again, and then…betrays again. She’s the worst kind of political snake.”
The daughter of Indian immigrants, Haley has described herself as the embodiment of the American Dream: college graduate, businesswoman, and aspiring political leader who won long-shot races to the South Carolina state legislature and the governor’s mansion.
During Haley’s second term in the statehouse, the newly elected President Trump picked her as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Since leaving her UN post, Haley has written books, given speeches, and created a political action committee known as “Stand for America.”
Haley is the first Republican to step up and challenge Trump, but probably will not be the last. Other Republicans considering a 2024 presidential bid include Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence.
Trump remains a formidable candidate, analysts said, despite his loss to Biden in the 2020 presidential race and losses by several pro-Trump candidates in the 2022 congressional races.
Trump also faces a slew of legal troubles, including investigations into the handling of classified documents and his conduct before the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.
Still, the former president has money, name identification, and a strong base of supporters, analysts said, while Haley is untested on the national campaign stage.
Sarah Longwell, a political analyst who has conducted focus groups on Republican candidates, said Haley’s chances are “not great,” but she is an intriguing candidate and could also be a potential running mate.
“Old school GOP will like her, and donors,” said Longwell, founder of an organization called the Republican Accountability Project. “But she might actually be running for VP.”