The former South Carolina governor and US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley will announce her run for the Republican presidential nomination in her home state on 15 February, a local newspaper reported.
The Post and Courier said it had seen an invitation “soon going out to her backers”, for a “special announcement” at The Shed at Charleston Visitor Center on 15 February.
“The confirmation she is entering the race came [on Tuesday] from a member of Haley’s inner circle,” it said.
Other outlets said they had confirmed the news.
If Haley, 51, does jump in, she will, if no one else moves sooner, become the second contender for the nomination – after Donald Trump.
The 76-year-old former president declared his candidacy in November, after disappointing midterm elections in which high-profile Trump-backed candidates suffered costly defeats.
Trump has begun to move his campaign into a higher gear, speaking in South Carolina and New Hampshire, early voting states, last week.
Trump has also attacked Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida who is Trump’s only close rival in polling regarding the notional field.
Trump has reportedly returned disappointing fundraising figures but the realclearpolitics.com polling average makes him the clear leader on 46%, with DeSantis on 31%, former vice-president Mike Pence third on 6% and Haley fourth with 3% support.
Haley originally said she would not run if Trump did but in recent months she has not been shy about trailing her run and potential campaign staffers have reportedly been moving to South Carolina.
Last week, Haley told Fox News: “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?’
“Yes, we need to go in a new direction. And can I be that leader? Yes. I think I can be that leader.”
Haley also used that Fox News interview to go after Mike Pompeo, like her a Trump administration graduate – he was CIA director and secretary of state – thought to be preparing a presidential run.
Pompeo attacks Haley in his new memoir, accusing her of conniving with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner to become vice-president and writing unfavourably of her performance as UN ambassador and resignation as South Carolina governor.
“She has described her role as going toe-to-toe with tyrants,” Pompeo writes of Haley’s time at the UN. “If so, then why would she quit such an important job at such an important time?”
Haley resigned as UN ambassador (or “flat-out threw in the towel”, Pompeo says) in October 2018. Pompeo says she thereby “abandoned” Trump just as she did “the great people of South Carolina” when in 2017 she resigned as governor.
Haley told Fox News she did not know why Pompeo was attacking her, “but that’s exactly why I stayed out of DC as much as possible, to get away from the drama”.
All the signs now suggest she is running to return to DC as president.
Most do not expect her to succeed. In a barbed remark after the Guardian first reported Pompeo’s attacks, the former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes wrote: “Pompeo and Haley poised for a real battle to see who can crack 1% in a Republican primary.”
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