Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley hinted at a “major announcement” that will undoubtedly establish her status as Donald Trump’s early contender for the Republican nomination, bringing her closer to the highly anticipated start of her US presidential campaign on Wednesday.
Haley has been dropping hints about a potential campaign for weeks, positioning herself as a younger, more modern replacement for the outgoing president and sending a video on social media saying that the country is ready for “a new generation” of leadership.
“My family and I have a big announcement to share with you on February 15th! And yes, it’s definitely going to be a Great Day in South Carolina!” she tweeted, inviting supporters to turn out at an event in Charleston, the Palmetto State’s largest town.
Trump is the only Republican to have officially announced a campaign or exploratory committee thus far in the 2020 race, compared to 10 Democrats.
Haley, 51, who was governor of South Carolina before serving as Donald Trump’s ambassador to the UN for two years, had declared she wouldn’t challenge her former employer.
“Nikki has to follow her heart, not her honor. She should definitely run!” Trump said in an acerbic post on his social network that appeared calculated to raise questions over her loyalty.
Haley is not likely to be the final Republican to enter the race. Some observers in Washington hypothesized that her declaration may cause opponents like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Trump’s vice president Mike Pence to rush the stage.
“It’s exciting to see the leadership that’s coming out of South Carolina,” Nancy Mace, a rare anti-Trump House Republican, said at a political event in Washington on Wednesday, adding that she was expecting an invitation to Haley’s announcement by the end of the day.
She didn’t confirm whether she would be attending, however, telling the crowd at the event organized by congressional media outlet Axios that she was “looking at” possibly endorsing Haley.