Trump seems oddly relaxed about Republican rival Nikki Haley. Is it because she doesn’t stand a chance? | Arwa Mahdawi
HOURHow did Donald Trump adopt meditation as his New Year’s resolution? Does he take sedatives? The demon ripped out his soul and replaced it with the soul of an intelligent person? I ask because the unthinkable happened: Trump reacted to the idea that one of his former aides would challenge his ambitions for 2024 with a calm and measured attitude instead of his usual insults.
We are talking about Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina and Trump’s ambassador to the United States at the UN. Rumors are growing that Haley is looking into running against Trump in 2024, a fact that her former boss doesn’t seem to care much about. Speaking to reporters on his plane on Saturday, Trump said Hailey called him to talk about running and he told her, “Go with your heart if you want to run.” To be fair, he couldn’t resist a little quip, noting that Haley had “publicly stated that ‘I would never run against my president – he was a great president.’ However, he generously told her that she “should do it.”
Trump was not so arrogant towards another of his former students, who also had his eye on the White House. During the same press conference, Trump attacked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, accusing him of trying to “rewrite” history regarding his response to Covid. “When I hear that he can [run]”I think that’s very disloyal,” Trump said, according to Politico, adding, “He’s not going to be the leader. I got him elected. I am the one who chose him.”
Why is Trump concerned about DeSantis and satiating Hayley? I don’t think it’s sedatives or soul-changing demons, but misogyny. I’m guessing Trump thinks Hayley has no chance of getting the top job, so he’s happy to play a prank on the little lady. Meanwhile, DeSantis poses a much bigger threat.
To be honest, polls confirm this thesis. Three nationwide polls released in January show Trump leading the hypothetical 2024 Republican presidential primaries, but DeSantis is solidly in second. Haley, meanwhile, won 3% of the vote, well below Trump’s range of 48-55%. However, if we’ve learned anything in recent years, it’s that polls should be treated with a very large amount of skepticism. Just because it currently looks like Haley has little chance of winning the Republican nomination doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Consider how many people wrote Trump off in 2016.
Hayley, for her part, seems to think she has a chance. In a recent interview with Fox News, she noted that she “never lost a race … Stay tuned.” Meanwhile, one Republican told Hill the former governor “decided her time had come and she was going to take off her gloves when it came to Trump, DeSantis and [Mike] Pompeo.” The gloves are already off. Haley, 51, recently tweeted an excerpt from her Fox News interview, during which she said, candidly referring to the age of Joe Biden and Trump, that she believes “it’s time for a new generation. I don’t think you have to be 80 to be a leader in DC. I think we need the younger generation to come in and step up and really start making things right.” Look, I disagree with the far-right Haley on absolutely nothing, but if she wants to define 51 as “young” (which is objectively the case for the geriatric US government), I’m all for it.
It’s also in Haley’s favor that she has always cynically used the fact that she’s an Indian-American (her birth name is Nimrata Randhava) and an immigrant child to evade Republican bigotry and appear acceptable to some liberals. However, at the same time, she has a knack for throwing meat at a right-wing base and getting involved in culture wars. “CRT [critical race theory] not American,” she said. tweeted Monday, for example.
So could Haley become the first female president of the United States? Again, I wouldn’t write it off. She is smart, ambitious, and apparently lacking any moral compasses: all the qualities needed to reach the top in politics.