ORANGEBURG — Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under then-President Donald Trump, said she won't run for president in 2024 if her former boss seeks to reclaim his old office.
In a news conference after touring South Carolina State University on April 12, Haley said she would support Trump if he decides to run again, adding that she enjoyed working with him during her time in his administration.
"I would not run if President Trump ran, and I would talk to him about it," Haley said. "That's something that we'll have a conversation about at some point if that decision is something that has to be made."
The latest remarks represent a stark turnaround from comments Haley made in interviews with Politico after Jan. 6 when a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol over Trump's unfounded allegations the 2020 election was fraudulent.
In a lengthy story about Haley's approach to Trump and her own future, she was quoted as saying that Trump would not run for federal office again.
"I don’t think he’s going to be in the picture," Haley said at the time. "I don’t think he can. He’s fallen so far."
On April 12, Haley said she still has not spoken to Trump since the Jan. 6 riots. But she repeatedly praised the former president, saying she had "a great working relationship" with him during her time in his administration.
"I appreciated the way he let me do my job," Haley said. "I thought we did some fantastically great foreign policy things together and, look, I just want to keep building on what we accomplished."
Haley's latest comments appear to more closely reflect the broader sentiment of Republicans in her home state.
A poll of likely South Carolina GOP primary voters conducted last month by the Trafalgar Group found more than 60 percent would vote for Trump again in a 2024 Republican primary, while another 20 percent said they would consider it.
Haley also declined to criticize Trump for comments he reportedly made over the weekend at a Republican National Committee gathering when he called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a "dumb son of a (expletive)" and criticized Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.
Trump "is not going to change his style just because he left the president's office," Haley said. Instead, she focused on the parts of his remarks that focused on how Republicans can regain control in Washington.
"I think President Trump’s always been opinionated," Haley said. "But I think what he also talked about were all the successes that he had in the administration, and I think that's what Republicans are uniting on."
Haley also said she expects Republicans will ultimately unify around opposition to Democratic President Joe Biden. On foreign policy, Haley has criticized Biden's approach to China and called on him to boycott the winter Olympics there in 2022.
"I think that he has shown that he has a sense of wanting to hold China to account," Haley said. "The only thing is it's been very surface, and I think we have to wait and see what he does."