Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley has dismissed suggestions that she’s running for president in order to become another candidate’s vice presidential running mate, according to an interview reported on Wednesday by Politico.
Haley, who previously served as governor of South Carolina and in the Trump administration cabinet as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has been polling at 3.4% on average, behind four other candidates, according to RealClearPolitics.
Haley’s political career and low support in the polls have led some political figures to publicly speculate that she is continuing her campaign to demonstrate vice presidential eligibility, a suggestion she rebuffed at the Iowa State Fair on Tuesday.
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“I think everybody that says, ‘She’s doing this to be vice president,’ needs to understand I don’t run for second,” said Haley, adding that “that’s something that I hear all the time.” Haley noted that she “[doesn’t] trust anybody else” to serve as president.
As the lead of former President Donald Trump in the Republican primary grows — currently at 40% over his closest rival — political figures have widely speculated that Haley is positioning herself to become Trump’s running mate.
“I think Nikki’s really running for vice president, that’s my sense,” said former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, who served as national security advisor to Trump.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo floated a similar idea, claiming in his recent book that Haley sought to replace then-Vice President Mike Pence as Trump’s running mate for the 2020 presidential campaign.
“[T]hey were presenting a possible ‘Haley for vice-president’ option … this visit did not reflect a team effort but undermined our work for America,” Pompeo wrote, describing a private meeting between Trump and Haley as well as Trump’s relatives and advisors, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, to convince him of the idea, The Guardian reported.
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Trump himself is reported to have mused about dropping Pence in favor of Haley, according to a Politico report, though Pence ultimately remained his running mate.
Haley, so far, has largely avoided criticizing Trump directly but instead lodged several attacks against Trump’s political rivals, such as Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who is Trump’s primary opponent in the race. Haley has strongly criticized DeSantis for his actions in relation to The Walt Disney Company, which is currently suing him, and called him “Trump without the charm.”
Haley has also made criticizing Vice President Kamala Harris a focus of her campaign rhetoric, suggesting that Biden is likely to leave office mid-term if re-elected and enable Harris to become the next president of the United States. “We can’t afford a President Kamala Harris. I will say that over and over again,” Haley said during an appearance with Tucker Carlson in Iowa.
Should Haley be selected as a Republican candidate’s running mate, she would face off against Harris — another minority woman of Indian descent — in the vice presidential debates.
Trump and Haley’s campaigns did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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