Nikki Haley exit fuels political speculation
High-profile female Republican quits post as US ambassador to UN
US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley exits President Donald Trump’s cabinet as the most high-profile female member, potentially putting her back into play as a candidate for a Republican Party struggling with women voters.
In her out-of-the-blue announcement on Tuesday, Haley, 46, pointedly tried to shut down talk that she would run for any office in 2020, including challenging Trump in his re-election bid.
But that hardly stopped Washington from playing a new round in its favorite parlor game: Who’s running for what? President, vice president and US senator were all on the table.
Those who know Haley from her days as a popular governor of South Carolina believe she is in an enviable position.
“What she’s done as UN ambassador has not only raised her own profile, which was already high, but she also raised the profile of the job and she’s left some big shoes to fill,” said Rob Godfrey, a former political aide in South Carolina.
Haley has received high marks for her UN job performance. An April poll by Quinnipiac University found that 63 percent of voters approved of Haley, including 55 percent of Democrats.
Haley was vague about her reasons for quitting, citing a desire to take time off.
In her resignation letter, Haley referred to returning to the private sector.
Few people who have watched her over the years see her leaving the public arena for long.
“The most likely explanation is she wants to put some daylight between herself and Trump in advance of running for president,” said Jordan Ragusa, a political science professor at the College of Charleston in South Carolina.
Haley, who had scant experience in diplomacy before taking the UN job, now emerges as a dream candidate, one who figured out how to work with the voluble Trump without upstaging him, but would also buck her boss on issues that mattered to her.
She applauded women who come forward with accusations of sexual misconduct and said they should be heard, even if they were accusing Trump.
She took a tougher stance than her boss on Russia. And in the wake of violent protest by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, she called on her staff to oppose hate, a position viewed as a contrast to Trump’s response.