Nikki Haley told a major conservative political gathering Friday she is running for president to “stop the downward spiral toward socialism and end the self-loathing that has taken over our country.”
“I am running for president to renew an America that is strong and proud, not weak and woke,” the former South Carolina governor and U.S. U.N. ambassador told CPAC’s annual meeting, drawing polite applause from a crowd that clearly leaned to primary rival Donald Trump. “When I look to the future, I see our country rededicated to freedom and opportunity, but when I look to the president I see the opposite.
“Joe Biden and the Democrats are giving us oppression, poverty and lawlessness,” she said. “This is not the America that called to my parents 50 years ago and — make no mistake — this is not the America I am going to leave to my children,” she said.
Mrs. Haley is the only high-profile GOP figure so far to formally challenge Mr. Trump in the 2024 GOP primary, though others are expected to join the race soon. Some suspect she is trying to audition for vice president.
The lukewarm response Mrs. Haley received from the crowd gathered here out on the outskirts of Washington suggests she has her work cut out for her. Her strategy at the gathering outside Washington D.C. — attack a common enemy of the CPAC crowd.
“We all know why the media can’t stand the fact I am a conservative,” she said. “Think about it: I am a woman, I’m a minority and I am the daughter of immigrants.”
The first female governor of South Carolina and only the second governor in U.S. history of Indian descent, she declared, “I am proof liberals are wrong about everything they say about America.”
The 51-year-old Mrs. Haley also reiterated her calls for elected leaders over the age of 75 to pass competency tests, and for the GOP to move in a fresh direction after the party’s recent electoral struggles — a tactic that takes an implicit shot at both President Biden, 80, and Mr. Trump, who turns 77 in June.
“If you are tired of losing, put your trust in a new generation,” she said.