State of the Art

Nikki Haley for president? Some take it seriously

If Donald Trump isn’t the Republican nominee for president in 2020, some see a potential replacement in former S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

The Democratic National Committee is doing “opposition research” on Haley, among other Republicans who could head the GOP ticket if Trump isn’t nominated for a second term, Politico reports.

Haley’s record at the U.N. and as S.C. governor is being examined along with the records of Vice President Mike Pence and two frequent Trump critics, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Politico reports.

The move is seen as unusual this early in a president’s first term. But with Trump’s low approval ratings and an ongoing investigation by a special counsel, Democratic operatives see a potential opening on the Republican side in 2020.

They aren’t the only ones.

When the New York Times reported on Republicans positioning themselves as a potential stand-in for Trump, they noted some moves that might put U.N. Ambassador Haley in the running.

Haley “put her longtime pollster on the payroll, has gotten better acquainted with some of New York’s financiers and carved out a far more muscular foreign policy niche” than the president, the Times reported.

Haley publicly has taken a much tougher line on Russia than others in the Trump Administration. She also has signaled support for U.N. refugee programs, putting some distance between herself and the president.

“She has her eyes on a bigger political horizon,” U.N. expert Richard Gowan told Vox for a story on a potential Haley “path to the presidency.”

Officially, Haley’s camp isn’t talking about her plans after the U.N.

When asked by Politico about the Democratic research, Haley spokesman John Degory said, “I don't know or have anything to share on that.”