Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley worked to straddle the two Republican factions as she continues to lay the groundwork for a possible 2024 presidential run, praising former President Donald Trump while blaming the media for highlighting GOP divisions.
In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal Thursday, Haley argued that it’s not a contradiction to credit Trump with expanding the Republican Party to a new kind of voter, while acknowledging that Republicans need to reach beyond Trump’s base of White, non-college educated men if they’re going to win future elections.
“Most of Mr. Trump’s major policies were outstanding and made America stronger, safer and more prosperous. Many of his actions since the election were wrong and will be judged harshly by history. That’s not a contradiction. It’s common sense,” she said. “I will gladly defend the bulk of the Trump record and his determination to shake up the corrupt status quo in Washington. I will never defend the indefensible.”
The target of Haley’s op-ed was the “liberal media,” which she said is stoking Republican divisions between those who support Trump and those who want to move beyond his brand of politics.
“The moment anyone on the right offers the slightest criticism of the 45th president, the media goes berserk: Republicans are trying to have it both ways! It’s a calculated strategy to pit conservatives against one another,” she said.
Her op-ed comes as the GOP tries to forge a path ahead after Trump’s presidency, with seven Republican senators voting to convict Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s harsh floor speech against the former president.
Haley is navigating a perilous path to a possible run in 2024 and follow earlier comments from her in which she embraced parts of Trump’s record while rejecting others, like his handling of the racial violence in Charlottesville in 2017.
As an Indian-American woman who won election as governor in South Carolina, she is often viewed as a rising star in the Republican Party in her own right. She was Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations in 2017. She left the post in 2018, a rare Trump appointee who left amid praise from the president.