Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and ambassador to the U.N. who is widely seen as a White House hopeful, is destroying her brand with her mimicking of Donald Trump, according to a new analysis.
Longtime centrist Democratic strategist Ed Kilgore wrote in New York magazine that Haley is "one of those Republicans often considered 'reasonable' by Democrats and independents; she’s sometimes floated as a congenial face for a post-Trump GOP."
Kilgore noted her "headline-grabbing stunt" of saying President Joe Biden should "step down" during an appearance on Fox News Radio's "Guy Benson Show."
"Haley’s message is that Biden is a danger to this country and its values, not just the leader of the other major party. It’s not what you’d expect from a pol who normally knows how to keep her balance. But Haley has certainly moved back and forth across the lines of respectability before," Kilgore wrote.
Kilgore described Haley's origin story as a GOP leader.
"Coming out of the extremist Jim DeMint–Mark Sanford wing of the South Carolina GOP, Haley first won the governorship as a Sarah Palin protégée who managed to turn scurrilous sexual allegations against her into a political asset. Her uneven record as governor (one lowlight was a State of the State Address in which she told out-of-state job creators who accepted unions to take their money and shove it) was obscured by her famous call to take down the Confederate flag at the statehouse in 2015, long after any real courage was required to do so. This overdue gesture instantly made her a national figure, and her identity as an Indian-American woman made her attractive to Republicans seeking diverse figures willing to articulate old-school conservative ideological views," he wrote.
Kilgore noted Haley briefly stood up to Trump following the Jan. 6 insurrection, but quickly backtracked and said she would support his expected 2024 campaign.
"Her explosion of shameless demagoguery on Fox News may be part of her own comeback bid in a party where nastiness toward the Democratic president and vice-president is a unifying theme," he wrote. "Haley needs to calm down and leave the red-meat-purveying to future days on the campaign trail if she wants to do the same. Trump will eventually go away, then the face of the post-Trump GOP may need some dignity."
Read the full analysis.
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