Nikki Haley will vote in favor of Trump’s “chaos” against which she previously attacked

Nikki Haley will vote in favor of Trump’s “chaos” against which she previously attacked
Nikki Haley will vote in favor of Trump’s “chaos” against which she previously attacked

(CNN) — The political calculus has changed again for Nikki Haley.

Not long ago, the former governor of South Carolina argued that Donald Trump was too old, too chaotic, too “unhinged” and too prone to tantrums to be president again and said he couldn’t beat President Joe Biden.

“I don’t feel any need to kiss the ring,” Haley said in February before suspending her primary campaign. “My political future does not worry me.”

But this Wednesday he gave the implicit support that everyone knew would come sooner or later. Haley said that while Trump had not been “perfect” on issues that matter to her, such as foreign policy and the national debt, Biden had been a “catastrophe.”

“So I will vote for Trump,” said the former US ambassador to the United Nations, who was part of the former president’s Cabinet.

After a friendly photo in front of the Oval Office fireplace, she left that position in 2018 before it could be tarnished by her association with Trump’s chaos. As 2024 approached on the calendar, Haley said she wouldn’t run for president against her former boss, but she did anyway, much to Trump’s fury.

Before losing her home state primary to Trump earlier this year, Haley lashed out at Republicans who supported Trump even though they privately despaired of him. “In politics, the herd mentality is enormously strong,” she said. “Many Republican politicians have surrendered to it. …Of course, many of the same politicians who now publicly embrace Trump fear him privately. They know what a disaster he has been and will continue to be for our party. They are just too afraid to say it out loud.”

Now Haley says out loud that she will vote for Trump. But she had no choice but to join the flock if she wants a future in a party dominated by his potential candidate. It doesn’t take long to emulate former Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, a once-rising star of the Republican Party who has become an example of what happens to conservative foreign policy hawks who refuse to tone down warnings that Trump It is a danger to democracy.

Haley seeks to preserve her future

Everything indicates that Haley wants to run for president again once Trump leaves the stage for good. So disowning him now would serve no personal political purpose except ending her career as a matter of principle. History might applaud her selflessness, but power would likely remain out of her reach.

Haley’s move will reinforce the impression that she always takes the political course most advantageous to her ambitions. But if Biden wins in November, she will be able to say that she predicted Trump would lose. If a second Trump term is a disaster, the record remains that she predicted the chaos. He might then be in a position to try to lead the Republican Party back to pre-Trump positions on foreign policy and the economy that seem closer to his own beliefs, even if he often seemed in 2024 to be auditioning for the leadership of a party that It does not exist in any recognizable form.

Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton, who said Trump should not be allowed anywhere near the White House again, said he was disappointed by Haley’s decision. “I think she’s obviously made a political calculation that it’s in her best interest to support Donald Trump,” Bolton told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday.

Haley — who won Vermont and Washington — is not the only potential young GOP presidential candidate with still-burning dreams of the White House to undergo such a transformation. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis lashed out at Trump when his own campaign faded in frigid Iowa in January, then backed him up by exiting the race much faster than Haley.

During her campaign, Haley argued that both Biden, who is 81, and Trump, who turns 78 next month, were too old to be president and called for cognitive testing for candidates over 75. But her decision to focus solely on Biden’s responsibilities this Wednesday raises the question of whether her voters will follow her in Trump’s direction.

Since she suspended her campaign, tens of thousands of GOP primary voters have continued to vote for her. This support is the living legacy of a campaign in which she established herself as a vessel for Republicans who despised Trump and wanted another candidate. Haley was especially strong in suburban areas, where the former president has the most difficulties. And Biden’s campaign signaled that she would compete for this bloc of undecided GOP voters in November. “There will always be a place for Haley voters in my campaign,” the president said during a fundraiser in the swing state of Georgia over the weekend.

However, many Haley voters confessed at rallies in New Hampshire and Iowa earlier this year that, although they preferred her, they would probably stay in their party as loyal Republicans if Trump beat them to the nomination. In that sense, Haley’s decision, though fraught with political expediency, may be one that many of her supporters are also struggling with.

The choice for Republicans who dislike Trump and are considering Biden is a more complex issue in this election than in previous ones. Now, Biden is the incumbent with a list of accomplishments and policies that directly contradict the core beliefs of many Republicans, including on foreign policy and the economy. Memories of the chaos of the Trump administration have also diminished. Traditional national security Republicans may also perceive global war and chaos and Biden’s growing enmity with a right-wing Israeli prime minister as a reason not to change their vote for him. “Many Republicans are making the same calculation because the Biden administration’s performance has been so appalling,” Bolton said.

The political ambition behind Haley’s election

Haley said she would vote for Trump while speaking at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, during her first major political speech since suspending her Republican presidential campaign.

His announcement during a question-and-answer session seemed illogical. He had just given a hard-line speech in which he merged Ronald Reagan’s Cold War warmongering with the neoconservative notes of the Bush Administration, but he promised to vote for a former president who has gutted the two foreign policy codes of the Republican Party with his “America First” strategy. Haley argued that he wanted to vote for a candidate who would cover “our allies’ backs and hold our enemies accountable and secure the border.” But during his first term, Trump often cozied up to U.S. enemies such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Un and spent four years berating U.S. allies in Europe and Asia for taking advantage of the United States.

Biden, by contrast, has revitalized and expanded American alliances, especially NATO, which Trump despises. The Western alliance now has more direction than at any time since the end of the Cold War. And Trump may speak well of immigration, but he recently gutted the most conservative border bill in decades, apparently because he wanted to deprive Biden of an electoral victory and preserve his narrative of a nation under siege.

Haley’s lukewarm support for Trump leaves some questions, including whether she will agree to campaign for him and whether she will urge her voters to back him. Although she said she would vote for the former president, Haley urged him to take steps to reach out to his voters. “Trump would do well to reach out to the millions of people who voted for me and continue to support me, and not assume that they will only be with him. And I really hope he does,” she said. Trump has made no effort to appeal to Haley voters during the march toward the presidential nomination, despite his pressing need to court suburban voters. And he recently was quick to deny reports that the former governor of South Carolina could be on his list of vice presidential candidates.

But any agreement between the two political enemies would be a reminder that it is best not to take what happens in presidential primary campaigns too seriously. Haley, after all, went from one extreme to another during his candidacy. He spent months offering only the mildest condemnations of Trump, who sought to overturn the 2020 election to stay in power. Like other Republican Party candidates, he was unable to solve the riddle of how to confront the former president, who remains popular among grassroots voters, while avoiding alienating his supporters. When he turned completely against Trump in the snows of New Hampshire, it was as a last resort that it became clear that he had no path to the presidential candidacy.

In a Feb. 1 interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Haley said Trump had experienced some “confusing moments” in previous days and accused the former president of having a “tantrum” the night of his New Hampshire primary victory, when he tried to to remove her from the race. During an appearance in Columbia, South Carolina, Haley asked the audience: “Do you really think he’s going to beat Joe Biden if he spends that much on legal fees? He won’t.” On February 12, Haley told Tapper that Trump was “completely unhinged” and accused the former president of siding with Putin against NATO members.

“Rightly or wrongly, chaos follows (Trump),” Haley complained at nearly every rally. “We have too much division in this country and too many threats around the world to sit in chaos once again.”

But that’s the “chaos” she’ll be voting for in November.

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