Every day, more and more Republicans seem convinced that Donald Trump will run for president again in 2024 and secure the party’s nomination. If that happens, who might he select as his running mate? One logical candidate comes to mind: former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during Trump’s administration.
Haley has elevated herself into the discussion of potential Republican presidential candidates for 2024. At least for me, realistic candidates include Trump, Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and perhaps Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who gets kudos from the base while challenging the entrenched, elite GOP establishment in Washington.
Haley has been traveling the nation, acquiring valuable chits from politicians. If she should run for president, a number of them could be in her debt. That said, she is also on record as saying that if Trump runs in 2024, she will not oppose him. That scenario could put her in play for the vice presidency.
As a candidate in 2024, Trump would encounter a political landscape far different from the one he successfully navigated in 2015 and 2016. Today, Vice President Kamala Harris is the first woman to hold that position — and she could become the first female president if President Biden chooses to retire early.
It appears many Americans are comfortable with a woman occupying the two highest offices of our land. More than that, many have come to expect it to happen. Any political adviser worth his or her salt — or any presidential candidate, for that matter — would argue for the necessity of having a woman on the 2024 Republican ticket.
Haley has a remarkable life story that could resonate with millions of working-class Americans.
The daughter of immigrants from India, she grew up in a small town in South Carolina and dealt with segregation, bigotry, and a physical assault by a neighbor. She learned how to do without, but never once gave up on achieving her American Dream.
What Haley has achieved, she did so on her own. If she were a Democrat, the mainstream media would have embraced her remarkable biography and praised her accomplishments. Today, Haley has forged herself into the foreign policy voice of the Republican Party. That strength of hers was a weakness of Trump’s — of others, perhaps, in the potential GOP field. She has been one of the few voices consistently warning against China’s aggression and human rights abuses, and has criticized Russia’s irredentism and Vladimir Putin, even before his February invasion of Ukraine.
Beyond Haley, who might make a good running mate for Trump? Unfortunately, the party’s “highly accomplished” female politician bench is not nearly as deep as the Democrats’. There are three women GOP governors: Kay Ivey of Alabama, Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Kim Reynolds of Iowa. Reynolds might be a viable candidate for vice president, but Ivey isn’t yet a nationally known household name, and Noem recently has lost the support of some Republicans in her state.
Among the eight Republican women lieutenant governors, one could make the case for Jeanette Nunez of Florida. As a Floridian, she could help Trump short up the state’s 29 electoral votes and the Hispanic vote.
Of the eight Republican female senators, a case also could be made for Joni Ernst of Iowa, based on her distinguished career in the U.S. Army, her conservative credentials, and her sustained public support for Trump’s policies.
But among all these possibilities, Haley is still the most well known and most likely to garner widespread votes.
In the recent past, one of the traditional roles of a vice presidential candidate was to lob harsh criticism at the opposition so that the presidential candidate could take the high road. In the “Age of Trump,” however, Trump himself eagerly fired non-stop insults at anyone opposing him. Yet Haley has shown that she is more than capable of taking on the responsibility, if necessary.
In January, regarding President Biden’s reaction to a potential war in Ukraine, Haley tweeted: “Biden should care about our own border as much as he claims to care about the Ukrainian border. #ProtectAmerica.” And, in February she tweeted: “The world’s worst dictators realize just how weak Joe Biden is. It’s why Russia is eyeing Ukraine.”
While we can assume Haley meant what she said, we can also agree that both comments dovetail nicely with Trump’s “America First” policies and his belief that the world’s dictators view Biden as soft.
As it stands now, I believe that if Trump does not run for the White House in 2024, Haley will be one of the last Republican candidates standing. And if he does run, she has set herself up as his best running mate.
Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration. His latest book is “The 56: Liberty Lessons From Those Who Risked All to Sign the Declaration of Independence.”