By TN Ashok
Washington, Feb 19 (IANS): Republican Nikki Haley, a former ambassador of the US government to the UN, is trying to create history once again to become another Ms Kamala Harris - that is what she is to the democratic party Nikki wants to be for the GOP.
Despite a rabid call by a ultra right wing republican asking her to go back home to India, Nikki Haley has thrown the gauntlet for the republican nomination, like Kamala Harris, for the top post, in the 2024 presidential run to the White House, media reports say.
Media has taken the news in different perspectives. One is absolutely skeptical. She has no chance, whatever, so what is she really running for? Vice president? Yet another different take is however hopeful of her chances -- Don't write off Nikki Haley just yet.
On paper, Nikki is a formidable candidate to contend with, given her experience and campaigner for an anti-abortion conservative woman of colour. She brings with her executive experience as the two-term governor of an early primary state, who held a Cabinet-level foreign policy position in the last republican administration.
Though she is relatively young, she is seasoned enough to be plausible, telegenic and eloquent without the rough edges that doomed many a GOP candidate in the November midterm elections, says the Washington Examiner in a special dispatch analysing Haley's chances at the hustings.
Nikki Haley obviously lacks a clear path to the nomination as the race appears likely to unfold with strong arm candidates such as Florida Hero Governor Ron De Santis waiting in the shadows, though his popularity is shrinking within the GOP, Trump making a strong comeback bid with a huge personal campaign corpus at his disposal and former VP Mike Pence also likely to prove a spoilsport for all. A Quinnipiac poll found that she was the third choice of Republicans nationally - but at 5 per cent, with former President Donald Trump taking 42 per cent and Gov. Ron De Santis (R-FL) receiving 36 per cent, the examiner said.
One thing is clear whether Trump triumphs over Santis or loses, it's quite likely either of them could choose Nikki Haley as the running mate, because she is of colour, of Indian origin, and very experienced executive fit enough to be the Vice President like Kamala Harris and could deliver the ethnic votes from blacks to Latinos in GOP's favour, analysts feel.
Haley is currently running 31 points behind the second-placed candidate, whose level of support is almost equal to the number of points she lags behind the front-runner.
Quinnipiac poll shows Haley leads former Vice President Mike Pence. She trails them in a number of others. The RealClearPolitics polling average has Trump at 46 per cent, DeSantis at 31.2 per cent, Pence at 6.4 per cent, and then Haley at 4 per cent.
Iowa could be the pointer for Haley even though this 42-point deficit is surmountable with a strong performance. A January Trafalgar poll showed Haley had a lot of ground to make up in her home state of South Carolina. She was in fourth place with 12 per cent of the vote, behind Trump at 43 per cent, DeSantis at 28 per cent, and fellow native son Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) at 14 per cent.
Pollsters predict that having a second South Carolinian in the race could be an obstacle in itself. As former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) can tell from their 2016 experiences, sharing donors and consultants, as Haley and Scott would, can be a challenging proposition. Divided attention is what you get with voters.
While it's too soon to assess Haley's chances, there is also not a sure shot indication of the outcome, as they were 10 years ago. But Haley's basic problem is she has to overtake two formidable candidates ahead of her with a wide margin, not an easy task. And she has to contend with early reports that say it's a two-Florida-man race even before the second of them has said he is running, the Examiner said.
Media reports claim that things could still play out in Haley's favour. And how? Trump could be indicted, which would put to test his theory about shooting down people on Fifth Avenue without electoral consequences. DeSantis could yet decide the job isn't worth 18 months of being called "Meatball Ron". And his having various relatives linked to the John F Kennedt assassination could be a negative factor , especially when he will still be under 50 in 2028.
"The race is sufficiently unsettled due to the unusual circumstances of the two presumed top-tier candidates that it makes sense for other ambitious alternatives to emerge," the Examiner said in its analysis.
Trump has already declared his presidential run and he can ride out the inertia to Iowa and New Hampshire. DeSantis has to quickly make up his mind and give his donors a heads-up if he is or he is not running.
And there is a question as to whether Haley can skilfully navigate her chances exploiting her background as an asset, even a refutation of wokeness, to counter the democrats, reports said.
Haley , media reports claim, needs to take advantage of the time period in which she is the only actively campaigning non-Trump candidate in the race, which could extend to the end of the Florida legislative session in May.
For Haley, being underestimated could serve as the kind of motivation an underdog candidate needs. "When I ran against the longest-serving legislator in the state, no one said I had a shot, but together we won," she said in her announcement speech. "When I ran for governor, people said, 'Nikki who?' But together, we won."
"When then President Donald Trump nominated me for ambassador to the UN, people said I didn't have the experience," Haley continued, the only time she referred to the former president by name. "Then I went to work."
Haley needs to do this urgently. Then she'll certainly have work cut out for her.