Indian-American politician and former UN ambassador Nikki Haley announced on Tuesday that she would run for the US presidency, becoming the first major challenger to former president Donald Trump for the 2024 Republican ticket.
Ms Haley made the announcement in a video a day before she was expected to address supporters during an event in South Carolina. A daughter of Indian immigrants, Ms Haley served as South Carolina's governor from 2011 to 2017.
If elected, she would be the first female president and the first president of Indian descent.
She cited the country’s economic troubles and the need for “generational change”, a nod to the ages of Mr Trump and incumbent President Joe Biden.
In her short tenure as UN ambassador, Ms Haley is perhaps best known for pushing for stronger sanctions against North Korea and for being part of the US withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council.
“Nikki Haley is an ambitious politician so it is not surprising that she used the UN as a stage to pump herself up as a strong voice for American values. She had no intention of staying in the job longer than was politically expedient,” a former UN diplomat told The National.
Mr Trump did not publicly comment on Ms Haley's announcement, but a Political Action Committee run by his allies derided her as a former "Never Trumper" who left the White House for financial gain.
"Now, she’s telling us she represents a 'new generation.' Sure just looks like more of the same, a career politician whose only fulfilled commitment is to herself," said Taylor Budowich, head of Make America Great Again Inc.
She is the first in a long line of Republicans who are expected to launch 2024 campaigns in the coming months. Former vice president Mike Pence and Senator Tim Scott are both reportedly considering running for the presidency, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is considered to be Mr Trump's biggest rival for the nomination.
“I’ve never lost an election and I’m not going to start now,” she said in the campaign video.
The announcement also signifies a change of heart for the former UN ambassador, who previously said she would not challenge Mr Trump for the Republican ticket if he were to run for the White House again. Mr Trump told a South Carolina television station earlier this month that Ms Haley had contacted him over the decision.
Meanwhile, Mr Biden has said he intends to seek re-election in 2024.
South Carolina's first female and minority governor
Ms Haley grew up enduring racist taunts in a small South Carolina town and has long referenced that impact on her personal and political life.
“You should know this about me: I don’t put up with bullies,” she said in the her campaign video.
“And when you kick back, it hurts them more if you’re wearing heels.”
At 38, Ms Haley was elected as the state's first female and minority governor in 2010.
She rose to prominence in 2015, when she ordered Confederate flags to be removed from state grounds after a white supremacist murdered nine black people in a Charleston church. A year later, she delivered the Republican Party's rebuttal to then-president Barack Obama's State of the Union address.
The Associated Press contributed to this report