SIOUX CENTER, Iowa — Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said Thursday she will run for president in 2024 “if there’s a place for me,” but dodged a question about whether the ongoing hearings on the former president’s role Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 Capitol Riots will influence their decision.
Haley was an early critic of Trump’s January 6 leadership, saying in early 2021 that “we must acknowledge that he has let us down.” But more recently, she has embraced Trump’s place in the party — a shift that underscores the difficult path Republicans must walk as they consider seeking the White House under Trump’s shadow.
Trump has not yet said if he will run again in 2024, although he has repeatedly raised the possibility. As he waits, a flood of potential competitors has begun making the necessary trips to Iowa to lay the groundwork for a potential run.
Haley, a former South Carolina governor, arrived in ultra-conservative Northwest Iowa on Thursday to speak at a fundraiser for US Rep. Randy Feenstra. Asked by reporters if her decision to run would be influenced by congressional hearings on the January 6 attacks, which included shocking testimonies this week from a former White House aide, Haley disagreed.
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“What I’ve always said is that I love this country,” she said, echoing past statements. “I’ve had the pleasure of serving the state that raised me and defending the country I love so much. And if it looks like there’s a place for me next year, I’ve never lost a race. I’m not starting now. I’ll put 1,000% into it and see it through. If there is no place for me, I will fight for this country to my last breath.”
Trump’s influence on Iowans was visible during a large rally he hosted at the Iowa State Fairgrounds last October. Still, Iowa Republicans say they want to hear about alternatives. Former Vice President Mike Pence received a warm welcome at Carroll earlier this year, and South Carolina’s Tim Scott received praise at Cedar Rapids this month.
Haley spoke at the Dean Classic Car Museum at the Sioux Center, surrounded by gleaming chrome fenders and flashing neon signs for Shell gas and Goodyear tires.
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In her 20-minute speech to an audience of about 350, Haley called for a renewal of American patriotism.
“This national self-loathing that’s going on across the country is killing us,” said Haley, the child of Indian immigrants. “The idea of them saying America is a bad country, the people are oppressed, America is a racist country — if America was a racist country I wouldn’t have been elected the country’s first minority woman governor.”