Who is Nikki Haley, the newest Republican presidential contender?

Indian-American former UN ambassador has long history in South Carolina politics and served under Donald Trump

Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks at AIPAC in Washington, on March 25, 2019. Reuters
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Nikki Haley, an Indian-American politician who served as the US ambassador to the UN as well as governor of South Carolina, announced her campaign for the US presidency on Tuesday.

If elected in 2024, she would become the first female US president and first president of Indian descent.

Who is Nikki Haley?

Nimrata Nikki Haley, whose maiden name was Randhawa, was born to Punjabi Sikh parents who immigrated to the US in the 1960s.

Before getting into politics, she worked for her family's clothing business in South Carolina and studied accounting at Clemson University.

She then became active in leadership roles in the National Association of Women Business Owners before running for a seat in the South Carolina House of Representatives, where she served three terms.

Ms Haley was elected governor in 2010 and led the state for six years.

Afterwards, she served in Donald Trump's administration as UN ambassador, despite backing his rivals in the 2016 election.

What's her foreign policy?

In her campaign video, Ms Haley highlighted challenges from Beijing and Moscow, saying “China and Russia are on the march”.

She added that she does not “put up with bullies” and referred to how she had “seen evil” during her time as an UN ambassador, when she pushed for tougher sanctions on North Korea.

While working at the UN, she started the process for the US withdrawal from the Human Rights Council over a supposed bias against Israel. She has also expressed opposition to the Iran nuclear deal.

During a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition in November last year, she said the next president should “shred it on her first day in office”.

Who is she up against?

Ms Haley faces a presidential campaign against Mr Trump, who announced his candidacy in November.

Following her departure from the Trump administration in 2018, she waffled between distancing herself from Mr Trump and supporting him. She was particularly critical of the former president after the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol.

She also faces a possible challenge from Tim Scott, a senator from her home state of South Carolina, though he has yet to announce his campaign.

Mr Trump's former vice president, Mike Pence, is also considered likely to run.

But it is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who is widely considered the biggest rival to Mr Trump, though he also has yet to announce his candidacy.

Mr Biden has yet to announce his expected re-election bid.

Updated: February 15, 2023, 5:46 AM