‘Ready for a new generation’: Haley launches 2024 White House bid in Charleston

Nikki Haley took the stage in Charleston to a cheering crowd Wednesday to officially announce she will run for president in 2024.
Published: Feb. 15, 2023 at 4:41 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 15, 2023 at 11:20 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - Nikki Haley took the stage in Charleston to a cheering crowd Wednesday to officially announce she will run for president in 2024 with a goal of saving the nation from a “downward spiral of socialism and defeatism.”

Haley told the crowd she has always had a deep belief in America, but added she knows the nation is “better than all the division and distractions we have today.” She assured her supporters “we’re ready” to move past what she called stale ideas and faded names of the past.

“And we are more than ready for a new generation to lead on into the future,” she said.

Haley talked about her family, a family of immigrants who came from India and found a better life in Bamberg in a country she said was gaining strentgh and growing in confidence but said today’s America feels different.

“Now, America is falling behind. Our future is slipping. Our leaders are failing us, and no one embodies that failure more than Joe Biden,” Haley said. “Right now in the greatest country in human history, we have too many families paying too much for groceries, too many mothers searching frantically for baby formula and too many children who are so far behind in the classroom, they may never get ahead.”

She said there are too many small businesses that can’t afford their rent, and too many big businesses getting taxpayer bailouts.

“We have too much crime on our streets – too many drugs flooding our cities – and too few police and border patrol,” she said. “And from Joe Biden on down, our leaders put too much trust in big government and too little trust in the American people. They have us spiraling toward socialism, with a new trillion-dollar spending bill every few months, and a national debt over $30 trillion. This is not the America that called to my parents. And make no mistake: This is not the America I will leave to my children!”

She also talked about what she called a “self-loathing” she says has swept the nation under the watch of Biden and Kamala Harris that is “eating away at our national core.”

“Every day, we’re told America is flawed, rotten, and full of hate. Joe and Kamala even say America is racist. Nothing could be further from the truth,” she said. “The American people know better. My immigrant parents know better. And take it from the first minority female Governor in history: America is not a racist country!”

She said she is running for president for a “strong and proud” America.

Haley lays out vision for an America ‘strong once more’

She said in the America she sees, every child gets a “world-class education” because every parent gets to choose their child’s school. No politician would be able to close those schools.

“In the America I see, police know we have their backs, criminals know we have their number, and our streets will be safe again!” she said. “In the America I see, we stop the surge of drugs and illegal immigration. That means having a real border and mandatory e-verify, like we got done in South Carolina. Businesses must hire Americans – not illegals!”

She called for a nationwide Voter ID program that will be “the law of the land, just as we did in South Carolina.”

“The America I see is freer and better for all – because Washington will finally serve the people instead of the political class.” she said.

She called for an end to corporate welfare and big business bailouts as well as an end to earmarks and pork she says fuels big government.

“And when it comes to our politicians, we’ll light a fire under them. Their job is not to say things on TV. Their job is to do things in DC, like solve problems instead of ignoring or creating them!” Haley said. “In the America I see, the permanent politician will finally retire. We’ll have term limits for Congress, and mandatory mental competency tests for politicians over 75 years old!”

She said she sees an America that will be “strong and proud, not weak and woke.”

“In this America, the Armed Forces of the United States will be stronger and more capable than ever. A strong military doesn’t start wars. A strong military prevents wars,” she said. “In this America, we’ll start pumping more oil and gas and stop buying dirty oil from Venezuela. We’ll stand with our allies – from Israel to Ukraine – and stand up to our enemies – in Iran and Russia. And in the America I see, Communist China won’t just lose…like the Soviet Union before it, Communist China will end up on the ash-heap of history!”

She said realizing the vision won’t be easy and will take “an unparalleled level of commitment” from everyone.

“And it will require doing some things we’ve never done…like sending a tough-as-nails woman to the White House,” she said.

She touted her record in South Carolina, which she said included cutting taxes, creating thousands of jobs and revitalizing the economy.

“My purpose is to save our country from the downward spiral of socialism and defeatism. I aim to move America upward toward freedom and strength,” she said. “And I have a particular message for my fellow Republicans. We’ve lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections. Our cause is right, but we have failed to win the confidence of a majority of Americans. Well, that ends today.”

She challenged everyone who is “tired of losing” to put their trust in “a new generation.”

Haley announced 2024 campaign Tuesday on Twitter

Her visit comes one day after the release of a video declaring her candidacy.

A crowd had already formed ahead of the announcement at the visitor center.

Haley was elected the first minority, female governor in the United States in 2010. She was also the nation’s youngest governor at 38.

South Carolina voters reelected to a second term in 2014, but she stepped down two years into that term to take an appointment from then-President Donald Trump to serve as U.N. ambassador.

Haley’s lieutenant governor, Henry McMaster, then rose to the governor’s role in 2017.

In a video posted Tuesday on Twitter, Haley, 51, made no reference to the 76-year-old former president, who she said two years ago she would not challenge for president in 2024 if he ran again.

But she changed her mind in recent months, citing the country’s economic troubles, among other things.

“Joe Biden’s record is abysmal, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise,” Haley said in the video. “The Washington establishment has failed us over and over and over again. It’s time for a new generation of leadership, to rediscover fiscal responsibility, secure our border and strengthen our country, our pride and our purpose.”

Haley’s video included a defining moment of her governorship: the 2015 murders of nine Black parishioners at Mother Emanual AME Church by a self-avowed white supremacist who had been pictured holding Confederate flags.

For years, Haley had resisted calls to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds, even casting a rival’s push for its removal as a desperate stunt. But after the massacre in Charleston and with the support of other leading Republicans, Haley advocated for legislation to remove the flag.

It came down less than a month after the murders.

The video showed Haley appearing at the church but made no reference to remove the flag.

In the aftermath of the U.S. shooting down multiple aerial objects in recent weeks, including a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the South Carolina coast, Haley is likely to position herself as well-versed in foreign policy. Her video included imagery of her serving as Trump’s ambassador to the U.N. with the warning that “China and Russia are on the march” and that they think America can be “bullied” and “kicked around.”

“You should know this about me,” Haley said. “I don’t put up with bullies. And when you kick back, it hurts them more if you’re wearing heels.”

The announcement makes Haley the first major Republican to officially challenge Trump, but she will hardly be the last. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are among those expected to launch campaigns in the coming months. Haley’s fellow South Carolinian Sen. Tim Scott is also weighing a White House bid.

As the presidential primary season comes into focus, the biggest question is whether anyone in the field will be able to replace Trump at the top of a party that he transformed with his first campaign in 2016. He remains popular with a wide swath of voters who will have significant sway in the primary, though some party officials have blamed him for the GOP’s lackluster performance in last year’s midterms. As it did in 2016, a crowded field could work to Trump’s advantage, allowing him to march to the nomination while his opponents divide support among themselves.

In a statement, Trump said he wished her “luck.”

“Even though Nikki Haley said, ‘I would never run against my President, he was a great President, the best President in my lifetime,’ I told her she should follow her heart and do what she wants to do,” Trump said. “I wish her luck!”