Former governor of South Carolina, United Nations ambassador and current 2024 presidential candidate Nimarata “Nikki” Haley is gaining momentum in the Republican primary, after a recent Iowa poll places her in joint second place with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
This is big for Haley, with the Iowa caucus being the first of the primary election cycle. It can make or break a presidential campaign, as an early win in Iowa often propels a candidate toward further victories in subsequent state primaries.
Haley and DeSantis are tied at 16%. What gives Haley the one-up is that she gained 10 percentage points since the first Iowa poll in August, whereas DeSantis dropped three points.
The consistent frontrunner has been former President Donald Trump, who came in at 43% in the Iowa poll, one point up from August and 27 points ahead of Haley and DeSantis.
Regardless of Trump’s significant lead, Haley is emerging as his biggest challenger for the Iowa caucus this January given DeSantis’ decline.
While the Iowa caucus is widely considered crucial, it doesn’t always predict primary wins. In 2016, Trump lost to fellow candidate Sen. Ted Cruz in the Iowa caucus, yet he won the Republican nomination.
This means that Haley has a fair chance of beating Trump in the primary even with a loss in Iowa. I’m curious to see if she steals any more percentage points from DeSantis — or even some from Trump — in the next Iowa poll.
As a Democrat, I would prefer for Haley to become the Republican nominee. Frankly, I wouldn’t completely mind her as president either.
I see Haley as the least of all evils — excuse me, of all Republican candidates. This is due to my belief that she could foster a culture of compromise in politics and government which the United States has lacked for a long time.
For example, Haley has made her pro-life stance on abortion firm while acknowledging the wishes of some of her fellow Republicans for a federal ban or restriction on abortion as overambitious.
“You know, there’s some states that have been pro-life, I welcome that. There are some states that have erred on the side of abortion. I wish that wasn’t the case, but it is,” Haley said on CBS Face the Nation. “I think that we need to make sure that people’s voices are heard.”
Haley has suggested the idea of a federal ban on “late-term abortions,” a proposal that I think has some potential of being agreed on should it be taken to Congress.
Another issue Haley refuses to stand stoically with the far-right on is U.S. foreign aid given to Ukraine for its war with Russia, particularly in the context of Russia’s relations with China.
Many of Haley’s fellow candidates expressed their opposition to a continued provision of aid to Ukraine. That being said, they also conveyed concerns about the U.S.’s economic involvement and competition with China, wanting to restrict or cut ties with that country’s economy.
“A win for Russia is a win for China,” Haley said at the second GOP primary debate, responding to entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy after he defended Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Haley has called the war in Ukraine “one that we have to win.” She added that helping Ukraine fend off Russian invaders is about preventing a larger conflict between the U.S. versus Russia and China.
“When China said they were going to take Hong Kong, they did it. Russia said they were going to invade Ukraine, we watched that happen. China said Taiwan is next, we better believe them,” Haley said, according to the Daily Wire. “Russia said Poland and the Baltics are next, if that happens we are looking at a world war.”
I could see Haley working with Democrats and Republicans as president to decrease U.S. aid to Ukraine, still helping them fight Russia but to a lesser degree.
At least Haley’s stances on various issues have nuance, a welcomed change from the typical black-and-white views of Democrats and Republicans held in our increasingly polarized country.
I understand that there is a chance Haley is putting on a pseudo-bipartisan front to gain support from Americans positioned on all sides of the political spectrum.
That being said, I do believe that she would end up practicing what she’s preaching if she wins the presidential election next year and begin to recondition our government to compromise.
I may disagree with abortion restrictions, and I may support the U.S. providing aid to Ukraine, but I know that I can’t always get exactly what I want. What both Democrats and Republicans need to understand is that compromise requires walking away having made some sort of sacrifice — Haley gets it.