Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley told Fox News in an interview that aired Thursday night that she thinks she could be the next President of the United States and that she is seriously exploring the possibility.
The possible run by Haley comes despite her telling the Associated Press last year: “I would not run if President Trump ran.”
“When you’re looking at a run for president, you look at two things,” Haley told Fox News anchor Bret Baier. “You first look at, does the current situation push for new leadership? The second question is, am I that person that could be that new leader, that, yes, we need to go in a new direction? And can I be that leader? Yes, I think I can be that leader.”
“I was — as governor, I took on a hurting state with double-digit unemployment, and we made it the beast of the Southeast,” she said. “As ambassador, I took on the world when they tried to disrespect us. And I think I showed what I’m capable of at the United Nations.”
“So, do I think I could be that leader? Yes,” she added. “But we are still working through things, and we will figure it out. I have never lost a race. I said that then. I still say that now. I’m not going to lose now. But stay tuned.”
'I CAN BE THAT LEADER': Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley hints at 2024 presidential run during exclusive interview with Bret Baier pic.twitter.com/KAa7qnjzgl
— Fox News (@FoxNews) January 19, 2023
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Welcome back to “Special Report.”
We are joined tonight by former Ambassador to the United Nations and former Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley.
Thanks for joining us.
NIKKI HALEY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Great to be with you.
BAIER: Listen, I want to talk about some news of the day first with you. And this document story really has gotten a lot of attention, the handling of classified documents.
You dealt with classified documents. How do you see this with President Biden and what we saw with former President Trump and where you come down?
HALEY: Well, classified documents should never be taken into an unsafe place.
And so I think that, clearly, President Trump and President Biden did it. They both should be investigated to make sure that there was no harm to our national security. But what really gets conservatives upset is the fact that you can have Republicans the Democrats do the same thing, and Republicans are vilified, and, Democrats, they just sweep it under the rug.
And so that’s the FBI/DOJ double standard. At some point, something’s got to give. You can’t weaponize our agencies and have it play out this way.
BAIER: On the world stage this week, a lot of focus in Davos, Switzerland, and the World Economic Forum.
If you listen to those speeches, climate change is the biggest issue on the world stage. Obviously, you have Iran protests. You have China on the move on a number of fronts. What do you see as the biggest challenge for the world?
HALEY: That is so — Davos is so tone-deaf, because, if you look at the fact, families can’t afford their groceries, mothers can’t find baby formula.
You have got crime at an all-time high. You have got inflation that’s up. You have got children who are so far behind in education, I don’t know that we’re going to catch them up. That’s great that they can go talk about the environment in Davos, but that’s not what Americans are feeling.
BAIER: You were governor of South Carolina. You had a good economy while you were governor. But balancing the books on a federal level has been very difficult for Republicans and Democrats.
HALEY: Governors have to balance their budgets, right?
So, we do understand what it means to kind of pick and choose what you’re going to spend on. I think, when you look at the debt ceiling, we’re $31 trillion in debt. We are borrowing money just to make our interest payments. Our debt is higher than the economy. We haven’t had that since World War II.
We’re certainly in a place that is not sustainable.
BAIER: We talked in the fall about your ambitions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: When do you make a decision whether you’re going to run for president?
And whether former President Trump decides or not, does that affect you?
HALEY: Look, I have said for a long time, if there’s a place for me, and I put my hat in, I have never lost a race. I’m not going to start now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: You said after the holidays that you would look at it, consider it, you would read the tea leaves, in your words.
We are in the new year. How are those tea leaves looking? Are you going to run for president?
HALEY: Well, I’m not going to make an announcement here.
But when you’re looking at a run for president, you look at two things. You first look at, does the current situation push for new leadership? The second question is, am I that person that could be that new leader, that, yes, we need to go in a new direction? And can I be that leader? Yes, I think I can be that leader.
I was — as governor, I took on a hurting state with double-digit unemployment, and we made it the beast of the Southeast. As ambassador, I took on the world when they tried to disrespect us. And I think I showed what I’m capable of at the United Nations.
So, do I think I could be that leader? Yes. But we are still working through things, and we will figure it out. I have never lost a race. I said that then. I still say that now. I’m not going to lose now. But stay tuned.
BAIER: It sounds like you are close. It sounds — are we getting to the exploratory committee stage here?
HALEY: I think, stay tuned.
A reporter was asking you if you would support Donald Trump if he ran again in 2024. And you told this AP reporter: “Yes. I would not run if President Trump ran. And I would talk to him about it.” And you added: “That’s something that we will have a conversation about at some point.”
Obviously, President Trump, former President Trump, is running. What has changed, if you are where you are?
HALEY: I had a great working relationship with the president. I appreciate all the foreign policy issues we worked on together.
But what I will tell you is, the survival of America matters. And it’s bigger than one person. And when you’re looking at the future of America, I think it’s time for new generational change. I don’t think you need to be 80 years old to go be a leader in D.C. I think we need a young generation to come in, step up, and really start fixing things.
And all of that, when I said that, was before we surrendered to Afghanistan. It was before we saw this high inflation and high crime. It was before we saw drugs infesting all of our states. It was before we saw our foreign policy in disarray. So a lot has changed.
And when I look at that, I look at the fact, if I’m this passionate, and I’m this determined, why not me?
BAIER: So I have talked to a number of high-profile conservatives, some of them very supportive of Trump, Trump supporters from the beginning, who say, maybe it’s time, to your point, for a different person to hold the torch.
They love Trump policies but didn’t particularly love all the controversies around the man. Is that what you hear?
HALEY: I don’t so much listen to that as hearing all the negatives against Biden.
We have lost the last seven out of eight popular votes for president. Seven out of eight Republicans have lost. Something is wrong. And so I think it’s time that we bring in a new generation that can bring in more people to our party, that can really talk about the solutions that we need to go.
If I run, I’m running against Joe Biden. That’s what I’m focused on, because we can’t have a second term of Joe Biden.
BAIER: You already have supporters, even though you’re not declared.
Vanity Fair had a piece in which it said, the Kushners, the family, is cozying up to Nikki Haley, saying that, basically, they support you. “Jared Kushner’ parents invited about 20 friends to meet former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley at Kushner’s beach house in Jersey Shore. At the event, Jared’s father, Charles Kushner, predicted that Haley would be the first woman president. Some attendees made donations to Haley’s Stand For America PAC.”
So is the president’s son-in-law a supporter of yours?
HALEY: Look, the president’s son-in-law is a friend of mine. Jared and Ivanka are dear friends. That’s what they are.
I fully suspect they will — expect that they will support the president. That’s where they should be. That’s who they are. But the Kushners are — are just dear people, and they have been supporters. And I appreciate that.
BAIER: One person who doesn’t seem to be a supporter is Secretary Mike Pompeo, who writes in his book about an Oval Office meeting.
He says: “I received a call one evening from John Kelly,” chief of staff, “who apologized for allowing Ambassador Haley to go to the Oval Office. She had gone — not gone in for a personal matter, but, rather, had entered the Oval Office with the president’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared. As best Kelly could tell, they were presenting a possible Haley for vice president option. He was certain he had been played.”
Is that true? Were you trying to get Mike Pence off of that ticket?
And Pompeo even says he’s not sure if it’s true. I never had a conversation with Jared, Ivanka or the president about the vice presidentship. And what I will tell you is, it’s really sad when you’re having to go out there and put lies and gossip to sell a book.
I mean, I don’t know why he said it, but that’s exactly why I stayed out of D.C. as much as possible, to get away from the drama and get away from the gossip. I focused on my job. And that’s what I always did.
BAIER: Senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway was asked about this on Brian Kilmeade’s radio show today.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: That is true that there are people trying to get rid of Mike Pence off the ticket.
I also thought it was so naive from some of the political novices like Jared Kushner that I worked with in the White House to actually think, well, let’s just get rid of the vice president. This whole idea, let’s just get a woman, get a woman, get a woman.
You know who did that? One Joe Biden. And look what we have got for it, goodness, Kamala Harris. So, I’m glad Secretary Pompeo has said this.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BAIER: So, what do you say to Kellyanne Conway on her recollections?
HALEY: I literally did not speak with anyone in the administration about that at all. It was gossip.
Mike Pence is my friend. It is gossip. It was never discussed. If somebody else discussed it, they certainly didn’t discuss it with me. I mean, these — it’s just gossip. This is all gossip.
But there’s no truth to it. And Mike even says in his book, it’s just gossip.
BAIER: So, do you expect this to be kind of a bruising primary, if you do get in?
HALEY: Listen, politics is a blood sport. It was a blood sport in South Carolina. It was a blood sport at the United Nations. There’s nothing I can’t handle.
I mean, may the best woman win.
BAIER: All right, I have this thing, candidate casino. You have $100 in chips.
Of those $100, where do you think you are on getting in or not getting in?
HALEY: Well, stay tuned.
I think I have given you a lot today. We’re leaning in. We are leaning in, in a big way. We’re focused on it. Stay tuned. It’ll be fun.
BAIER: That sounds like 75 to 80. We will see.
Thanks for the time.
HALEY: Thank you.