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Indo-American Nikki Haley’s steep political rise

Indo-American Nikki Haley’s steep political rise
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President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday selected Nikki Haley to serve as US ambassador to the United Nations, becoming first Indian-American to be appointed to a Cabinet-level post in the US administration.

“Governor Haley has a proven track record of bringing people together regardless of background or party affiliation to move critical policies forward for the betterment of her state and our country,” Trump said, referring to his former critic with whom he had sparred bitterly during the campaign.

Haley, 44, daughter of Indian immigrants, is the first woman tapped by Trump for a top-level administration post during his transition to the White House. The presidential transition team said this would a cabinet-level position in the Trump-Pence Administration.

Haley’s elevation as top US diplomat at the UN shows her steep political rise that began six years ago when the daughter of Indian immigrants was elected as South Carolina’s first woman and minority governor.

Haley, 44, considered a rising star in the Republican Party, is the first female appointment to a Cabinet-level post by Trump.

The Cabinet position would require confirmation by the Senate. If confirmed by, Haley would be the first Indian-American to be appointed to a Cabinet-level position in any presidential administration.

“I was moved to accept this new assignment for two reasons. The first is a sense of duty,” she said.

“When the President believes you have a major contribution to make to the welfare of our nation, and to our nation’s standing in the world, that is a calling that is important to heed,” she said.

“The second is a satisfaction with all that we have achieved in our state in the last six years and the knowledge that we are on a very strong footing,” Haley said.

“Our country faces enormous challenges here at home and internationally, and I am honored that the President-elect has asked me to join his team and serve the country we love as the next Ambassador to the United Nations,” Haley said, commenting on her nomination to the key post.

Born Nimrata ‘Nikki’ Randhawa, Haley brings both racial and gender diversity to Trump’s appointments, which so far have uniformly consisted of white males. She has already carved out a legacy for herself, serving as the first minority and female governor of South Carolina, a deeply conservative state with a long history of racial strife.

Haley, who is in her second and final term as governor, was elected in 2010, riding the wave of the Republican Tea Party with the support of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

Her re-election in 2014 also marked the largest margin of victory for a South Carolina gubernatorial candidate in 24 years. Prior to becoming the state’s chief executive, she served six years as a member of the state’s House of Representatives.

Haley was critical of Trump during the primary campaign and had backed Senator Marco Rubio in the Republican primary. However, before the general elections, she switched her stance, saying she would vote for Trump. 

She has worked on trade and labour issues as governor but brings little foreign policy experience, although she has travelled abroad eight times since taking office.

Her views on various US military and national security matters usually fall within the Republican Party’s hawkish mainstream, US media says.

She would be the first-ever Indian-American Cabinet rank official in any administration. The Cabinet position would require confirmation by the Senate.

Last week, Haley was elected Vice Chair of the powerful Republican Governors Association for the year 2017.

After the November 8 general elections, Republican Governors are now in-charge of 33 States, something that has not happened in 94 years.

Haley, who was raised as a Sikh and later converted to Christianity, is married to Army National Guard Captain Michael Haley and has two children. Her husband was deployed to Afghanistan in 2013 as a member of the S C National Guard.

In an op-ed on CNN, South Carolina’s popular columnist Issac Bailey recently wrote that Haley is perfectly positioned to do what many believed Hillary Clinton would have.

“Haley could be a future political titan in a political party that finds itself with unprecedented levels of national power and internal chaos,” Bailey wrote. 

Haley could give Trump something to brag about and his supporters, desperate to deny the bigotry upon which their hero rose to national political prominence, something to point to, his willingness to appoint a woman from a minority group who did not cow to him during the election cycle, Bailey said. 

Trump’s Transition: Who is Nikki Haley?
  • First Indo-American to be appointed to a Cabinet-level post in a US administration
  • Trump’s first woman and minority appointment
  • Serving her second term as South Carolina governor
  • The 44-year-old, daughter of Indian immigrants, has already carved out a legacy for herself, serving as her home state South Carolina’s first female and first minority governor
  • Won first election in 2010 and was re-elected in 2014, marking the largest victory margin for a South Carolina gubernatorial candidate in 24 years
  • Has worked on trade and labour issues as governor, has little foreign policy experience
  • Last week, she was elected Vice Chair of Republican Governors Association for 2017
  •  She was critical of Trump during the primary campaign and had backed Senator Marco Rubio in the Republican primary. However, later she switched her stance, saying she would vote for Trump
  • Haley, who was raised as a Sikh and later converted to Christianity, is married to Army National Guard Captain Michael Haley and has two children
  • Born Nimrata ‘Nikki’ Randhawa, Haley brings both racial and gender diversity to Trump’s appointments, which so far have uniformly consisted of white males
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