Everything You Need to Know About Nikki Haley and Why President Donald Trump Appointed Her as Ambassador
As U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley is a “proven deal-maker,” according to President Donald Trump, who nominated her for the position. Although the Republican worked her way up to this position, rumor has it she’s not done: Could she run for president yet?
Here we’ll list some things you may not know about Haley. Read on to see why Trump picked her for the job (page 7) and how eight of her words became an Internet meme (page 8).
She’s the daughter of Indian immigrants
She was born Nimrata Randhawa to Sikh parents who immigrated from India. They called her “Nikki” right from the start. Before they arrived in America, her father was a professor and her mother earned a law degree. Once in America, he worked as a professor at Vorhees College, and she earned a master’s degree and worked a public school teacher.
Next: Why she was disqualified from a beauty pageant
She grew up in South Carolina
One of four siblings, Haley was born and raised in South Carolina. She wrote in her memoir that when she was five, her parents entered her into a beauty pageant in Bamberg, South Carolina. Traditionally, judges named one black queen and one white queen. Since she didn’t fit either category, she was disqualified.
When she was 12, Haley helped with the bookkeeping in her mother’s clothing shop. She later credited this experience when she was 12 as giving her “a sharp aversion to government intrusion.” She went on to earn an accounting degree from Clemson University.
Next: How she got into politics
How her political career began
Upon graduation, Haley worked for a waste management company but then joined her family’s clothing business as controller and chief financial officer. She also served on boards for several business organizations and charities.
In 2004, she ran successfully for the South Carolina House of Representatives, on a property tax relief and education reform platform. She became the first Indian-American to hold office in the state. She then had aspirations to become governor. (More on that soon.)
Next: How she’s two religions
Religion and family
While Haley identifies with the Sikh religion of her parents, she also attends a Methodist church. When asked by Christianity Today whether she hopes her parents convert to Christianity, she replied, “What I hope is that my parents do what’s right for them.”
In 1996, she married Michael Haley, an officer in the South Carolina Army National Guard. They have two children, daughter Rena and son Nalin.
Next: Her groundbreaking move as governor
First female governor of South Carolina
Haley served as her state’s first female governor, from 2011 to 2017. During this time, she notably ordered the 2015 removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds. This action followed the shooting of nine African Americans at Charleston’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
“This flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state,” she said at the time.
Next: She wasn’t a Trump supporter — at first.
She didn’t endorse Trump in the primary
Notably, Haley supported presidential candidate Marco Rubio in the 2016 primary election. When she delivered the GOP response to President Obama’s last State of the Union speech, she referred to Trump indirectly: “During the angriest of times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation.”
Next: Why Trump nominated her
Her job in Trump’s cabinet
Haley resigned as governor in 2017 when Trump tapped her to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. His reasons for that likely included her strongly hawkish worldview. On a political level, it also freed him of a possible 2020 campaign rival. He also may have viewed nominating a minority female as a response to racism charges.
In her role, Haley supported moving the U.S. Embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — which came to fruition in May 2018. She also encouraged the U.N. to increase sanctions against North Korea in 2017. The U.N. council approved this move, banning exports worth over $1 billion.
Next: How her words became a meme
Her spat with a White House official
In April 2018, Haley clapped back at Trump aide Larry Kudlow after he remarked she may have suffered “momentary confusion” regarding Trump’s plans for Russian sanctions. When contact for a response, Haley simply offered, “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”
This prompted an apology from Kudlow, White House economic advisor. But that didn’t stop the flurry of memes and late-night monologues.
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