CHARLESTON, South Carolina — Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley told Breitbart News exclusively here after her campaign launch on Wednesday that she welcomes a crowded field in the 2024 Republican presidential primary.
“I got in because it doesn’t matter who else gets in. I’m not going to wait because I know my mission,” Haley said in the interview conducted on her campaign stage after her launch speech and event. “My mission is to make sure we go defeat this socialism and get rid of the defeatism we’re seeing in this country.”
Haley is pitching herself to voters as “something different” from the politicians they are used to seeing and not the same candidates as the last election with current Democrat President Joe Biden or former GOP President Donald Trump. Haley made clear in this interview, too, that she has never actually served in Washington; she was in the South Carolina statehouse, was governor of South Carolina, and then went on to represent the Trump administration as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, a New York-based position.
Haley is the second major GOP candidate to enter the 2024 presidential primary field—former President Donald Trump is the first—and many more are expected to possibly enter the field in the coming weeks and months. They range from anti-woke businessman Vivek Ramaswamy to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to former Vice President Mike Pence to South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem to New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu to Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and more.
Haley had previously said, in 2021, that she would not run in 2024 if Trump ran. Asked what changed between then and now—obviously she is running even though Trump is also running—she pointed to the problems getting worse from the Biden administration and what she called a “terrible midterm” for Republicans.
“That was at the start of the Biden administration. Since then, we’ve seen a surrender in Afghanistan,” Haley said when Breitbart News asked what changed between when she said she would not run against Trump and now. “We’ve seen inflation go through the roof. We’ve seen open borders like we’ve never seen before, and we had a terrible midterm. So it is time. I agree with President Trump on so much of what we did in the administration, and I was proud to be there. But now is time we leave the past in the past, we leave the status quo, and we start looking toward a new generation and a new kind of leadership.”
Republicans did take the U.S. House majority in the midterm election, but only by four seats. That led to a tough speakership election for now-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who had to fight through 15 ballots before eventually winning the gavel. In the midterms, Republicans fell short in their bid to take back the U.S. Senate, ultimately losing a net one seat by losing Pennsylvania and not picking up any of the pickup opportunities on the map. And in governor races nationwide, Republicans had several disappointments in places such as Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Kansas, and more—while flipping only Nevada’s governor mansion from Democrat hands into GOP hands.
Haley has also framed herself to GOP primary voters as someone who can win a general election but still has some of the fire and brimstone many in the base are looking for in a candidate. Asked what she sees as her pathway to victory—first in a primary, then in a general election— Haley told Breitbart News that it is “what you saw here” in her speech and the crowd of thousands who gathered to see her take off.
“Getting out, getting with the people, working with and talking to them about what they want to talk about,” Haley said. “They want to talk about the fact that the economy is not working, government continues to grow, and we continue to see wages go down. Inflation is high, education is—people are so worried about their kids. We look at the border; it’s complete open borders. We’re looking at a lack of security, and we’re looking at international troubles. They want something different. More importantly, they get the fact we need a new generation—someone who is a Washington outsider. I am a Washington outsider, someone who’s never been there, and we need a Washington outsider to go in there and clean it up.”
Haley also asserted in her campaign launch video and speech here that she is someone who could win the popular vote for the GOP in 2024. Asked why, Haley told Breitbart News she is talking about things that people care about and are interested in.
“You have to have a candidate who appeals to more people and can win a general election,” Haley said. “When you talk about the things that people care about, Joe Biden has been there for 50 years. He’s completely out of touch with the public. I have a daughter who’s getting married, and I worry about how they’re going to afford a home. I have a son who’s in education, and I watch what’s happening with the woke-ism in classrooms. I see people every day who are struggling with their grocery bills. We, at some point, have to realize that the American people deserve better—they deserve better—and the only way we are going to get back to greatness is when we get rid of all the old politicians who have been there for too long.”