WASHINGTON (TIP): Indian American politician Nikki Haley, a potential 2024 White House contender, finds herself isolated from the populist wing of the Republican Party commanded by former President Donald Trump after criticizing her former boss. Haley, the only Indian American to get cabinet rank as US ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, would be absent from the speaking lineup at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Thursday, Feb 25, the Hill reported. In a scathing interview with Politico she had sharply criticized Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and wrote off his future influence in Republican politics.
“The fallout from Haley’s remarks underscores the risks associated with her strategy of criticizing Trump’s actions and establishing a separate political identity while at the same time trying to appeal to his base of supporters,” the Hill said. “It’s a very fine line to walk for a long way between now and the Republican convention in 2024,” Alex Conant, a Republican consultant and former adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio was quoted as saying.
Since a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, Haley has wavered between sharply criticizing the former president and taking a more moderate tone toward him, the Hill suggested. At a Republican retreat the day after the riot, she said Trump’s actions “will be judged harshly by history,” according to Politico. But later that month, in an interview with Fox News’s Laura Ingraham, Haley said that Trump did not deserve to be impeached for his role in the insurrection. More recently, she accused the media in an op-ed published by The Wall Street Journal of trying to sow division among Republicans. The Hill cited a Republican source as saying that Haley has been positioning herself for a presidential campaign since she left the Trump administration in 2018. But she lacks a clear lane in the coming Republican primary and is struggling to figure out how to connect with Republican voters under Trump. “Haley has never understood the president and seems to not understand where the base of the party is,” the source was quoted as saying. Other would-be hopefuls, by contrast, have largely hewed to Trump’s brand of right-wing populism, or at least avoided directly criticizing the former president, believing that his loyal base of supporters will be crucial to winning back the White House, the Hill noted. Haley has spoken at CPAC multiple times in the past, including last year as Trump entered his reelection campaign. Haley’s approach has also prompted criticism from some of Trump’s critics, who have accused her of trying to play both conservative renegade and Trump acolyte, the Hill said. “You can’t play both sides anymore Governor,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), one of 10 House Republicans who voted last month to impeach Trump, tweeted. “Pick Country First or Trump First.” The Hill cited unnamed strategists as saying that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to predict where the Republican party and its voters will be in three years when the 2024 primaries begin. But with Trump poised to return to the political stage forging a path forward without him will likely prove difficult for any prospective Republican candidate. “There’s nothing about running for president that’s easy,” Conant said. “Trump makes it even harder.”