Donald Trump doesn't care that South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley supported Senator Marco Rubio, and then Senator Ted Cruz, during the Republican presidential primary. Nor does he care that she has very limited foreign policy experience. On Wednesday he named her as his incoming administration's new U.N. ambassador, making Haley the first woman and person of color picked for his new cabinet.
Haley, the daughter of immigrants from India, served three terms as a South Carolina state legislator before being elected governor in 2010 and then re-elected in 2014.
She is expected to be paired with 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney who, despite similar criticisms of Trump’s campaign proposal, is one of the frontrunners to become secretary of state.
Haley had also criticized Trump for not doing enough to speak out against racism and white supremacy within his campaign, an issue that has boiled over after his election with over 700 hate crime incidents being reported since. However, Haley showed affinity with Trump regarding his position on Syrian refugees when she asked the State Department to not resettle Syrian refugees in South Carolina in 2015 because there was little intelligence on their backgrounds.
The South Carolina governor gained attention for her stance on removing the confederate flag in 2015, saying the flag, associated with slavery, remained a symbol of division within the U.S. and was preventing the country from going forward. It came after nine Black people were murdered in a shooting at an African-American church by a young white supremacist.
The 44-year-old has risen through the Republican party to become the first female minority to be elected to South Carolina governor in 2011, and was also the youngest state governor in the country.
Haley said that she eventually voted for the president-elect, but was “not a fan” of Trump or indeed, Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton.
Haley’s appointment comes in contrast to other members of Trump’s previous all-white-male, such as alt-right figure head Steve Bannon, who is the president-elect’s chief strategist.
Many view Haley as a strategic choice to bring a softer feel to Trump’s far-right team and counteract claims of sexism and bigotry that plagued Trump throughout his presidential campaign.
Haley has no previous experience working on a federal government level or in the field of foreign policy and international diplomacy. She will replace Samantha Power, who has represented the United States at the United Nations since 2013.