“Running in Heels” Looks Difficult for 2024 Hopeful Nikki Haley


Nikki Haley will have to run to keep up in the 2024 presidential election. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Temperatures aren’t all that’s warming up this spring, as anticipation around the 2024 presidential election continues to reach new highs. Talks are simmering about who will challenge President Joe Biden, and for the most part, Democrats seem united around Biden running for a second term. However, things look much less certain among Republicans, as members of the GOP contemplate what the future of the party looks like in the wake of former President Donald Trump tossing his red hat in the ring for a third time. One thing is certain — Nikki Haley’s bid for the ticket looks wobbly.

There are quite a few reasons as to why that’s the case. Firstly, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is heavily rumored to run, and following his dominant victory during the midterms, seems to be a Republican favorite to challenge Trump. Secondly, early polling data looks lukewarm for the former South Carolina governor, as Haley trails behind both Trump and DeSantis. However, most noticeable is the fact that Haley served under Trump as UN Ambassador — signifying a glaring hole in her campaign pitch to not put up with bullies.

While those are three highly legitimate reasons as to why a Haley run looks like an awkward walk, what truly stands to hold her back as a viable candidate for the Oval Office is the fact that she, like the rest of the GOP, refuses to acknowledge the big red elephant in the room — Donald Trump. Specifically, Haley has demonstrated a visible reluctance when speaking against her former boss, opting for subtlety over explicit call-outs. While one can chalk this up to Haley’s strong record as a politician, the rest of the country stands to sum it up to weakness in the face of a brash political juggernaut like Trump who has a track record of going for the jugular against his opponents — especially women. One cannot fight what they refuse to acknowledge, and tip-toeing around a still wildly popular Trump will not prove to be an effective strategy in the long run. 

Trump’s tenacious grip on the Republican party has manifested itself in drastic ways – ranging from legislation to ban a woman’s right to choose to inflamed racial relations which saw an alarming resurgence of hate groups to democracy quite literally coming under the chopping block during the Jan. 6 insurrection. The GOP needs a candidate willing to denounce many of the systemic harms of the Trump-era for an American future rooted in principle rather than preference. The Trump administration has done far too much to disrupt the political atmosphere of America, and Haley’s decision to remain mum on many of those moral failings signals complicity. Such silence is a surefire way to hand Trump the GOP nomination for what is bound to be one of the most unanticipated bouts for the presidency since 2016’s upsetting race.

Of course, there are a lot of things that stand to change between now and 2024. More Republican candidates are bound to enter the field, and it will only be so long until the GOP is forced to make a decision about the future of the Republican party. If 2016 has taught Americans anything, it should be that polls aren’t everything, and Haley should not yet be written off. After all, she has seen some growth among Republican voters, and she has proven her staying power in the white male-dominated gladiatorial colosseum that is American politics by becoming the first female governor of South Carolina. Adding to that, she’s a woman of color who held the gubernatorial seat for three consecutive terms, and has accomplished notable feats such as removing the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds following the gruesome racially-motivated killings of nine Black churchgoers at the Emanuel AME Church. Haley also demonstrated, as UN Ambassador, her willingness to stand against foreign threats to America, controversially opting to sanction Russia. She also was a vocal critic of legislation that would have imposed upon transgender rights, denouncing a bill that would have had trans people use bathrooms corresponding to their gender assigned at birth. Make no mistake about it — Haley is a political superstar who is indeed very capable of clinching the nomination, as well as securing the presidency. However, so long as she remains under the looming shadow of Trump, and continues to resort to soft-spined veiled jabs, she stands to be yet another one of Trump’s political victims or pawns. 

There is a lot that Haley could do to prevent this. Specifically, Haley stands in a rather unique position as only the second contender for the GOP nomination. She is also momentarily the only female candidate in what is soon expected to be a crowded pool of male republicans vying for Biden’s seat. Adding to this, as a woman of color who admitted to experiencing discrimination given her Indian heritage, it’s not a longshot to predict that she enters the field with a chip on her shoulder. After all, she already found herself a victim of xenophobic attacks from Ann Coulter after claiming America is not a racist country. She also found herself the subject of sexist and ageist remarks by CNN’s Don Lemon, who inappropriately dubbed Haley past her prime for being 51, after she suggested the GOP needs a new generation of leaders. This is Haley’s chance to appeal to both women and people of color — especially as DeSantis continues to vocalize against the teaching of AP African American history.

When announcing her campaign, Haley remarked, “I don’t put up with bullies. And when you kick back, it hurts them more if you’re wearing heels.” 2016 was a lesson in how difficult politics can be for women. If Haley wants to mount a successful campaign, she’ll need to stop flip-flopping on two of America’s most contentious issues of our time — Trumpism and race. Until then, running in heels only stands to get a lot harder.

Noah Osborne, FCRH ’23, is a journalism major from Harlem, N.Y.