A crowd gathered Wednesday at the Charleston Visitors Center bus shed for former S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley's official 2024 presidential campaign announcement | Photo by Skyler Baldwin

Former S.C. Gov. and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday formally launched her 2024 campaign for president in front of a cheering crowd packed tightly into the Charleston Visitors Center bus shed. 

Haley, first elected to the S.C. House in 2004, touted herself as part of a “new generation” of conservative leaders ready to take on longtime politicians. 

“America is not past our prime — it’s just that our politicians are past theirs,” she said. “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 pointed to Republicans’ loss in the popular vote in seven out of the eight presidential elections, including former president Donald Trump’s loss to President Joe Biden in 2020, as evidence the GOP had “failed to win the confidence of the majority of Americans.”

“If you’re tired of losing, put your trust in a new generation,” she said.

Haley | Photo by Ruta Smith

While Haley made multiple comments regarding “socialist Democrats” in Washington, she asserted she does not agree with “identity politics.” She avoided criticisms of Trump and focused on targeting Democratic leaders and establishment politicians, calling for term limits in Congress and “mandatory mental competency tests” for political leaders over the age of 75. 

A political pedigree

Haley received an endorsement from U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., prior to taking the stage. Norman, a Trump ally, introduced Haley as someone who shares many qualities with the former president. 

“In 2016, President Trump was exactly what the Republican Party and our country needed,” Norman said. “You see, for too long, the Republican Party has been marginalized and watered down by liberals in both government and throughout the media. 

“But when President Trump came along, he reminded Republicans how to stand boldly for our beliefs and commitments to the freedoms that we enjoy today. And I want to thank Donald Trump for his service and his place as one of the great leaders of all time. During the Trump years, folks, the American people recognized what qualities we needed in a leader. Nikki Haley has those very qualities desperately needed in America today — a fierce, bold leader, who will fight for America.” 

Haley so far is the only Republican to challenge Trump in the 2024 GOP primary, but political experts are watching for similar challenges from GOP leaders like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. 

Haley, whose parents are from India, was born in Bamberg, a cultural dichotomy she embraced in her speech to fight back against claims of racism in the United States. She then served three terms in the S.C. House of Representative after an election victory over the longest-serving legislator in state history in 2004. She later won an election for the state governor seat in 2010 and reelection in 2014. Under the Trump administration, she served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 2017 to 2018. 

“When I ran against the longest serving legislator in the state, no one said I had a shot, but together, we won. When I ran for governor, people said, ‘Nikki who?’ But together, we won. We cut taxes, created thousands of jobs and revitalized our economy … When President Trump nominated me for ambassador to the United Nations, people said I didn’t have the experience, then I went to work … I’ve been underestimated before, and that’s always fun, and I’ve been shaking up the status quo my entire life. As I set out on this new journey, I will simply say this: May the best woman win.”

Haley is now set to travel to New Hampshire and Iowa as she sets off on her campaign trail. 

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