Nikki Haley attempts to shake off establishment image as SC primary looms

 January 26, 2024

With the GOP primary race now shifting its focus to South Carolina, that state's former governor and current presidential hopeful, Nikki Haley, is doing her best to end perceptions among certain parts of the electorate that she is an establishment politician who lacks fidelity to conservative principles, as the Washington Examiner reports.

According to the outlet, Haley's campaign staff and an affiliated political action committee have begun engineering an adjustment to the candidate's messaging strategy.

The new approach is reportedly geared toward positioning Haley as an “outsider” who is ready and willing to challenge the “political establishment,” perhaps in an attempt to rival former President Donald Trump's entrenched claim to that identity.

In addition to Trump's existing reputation as the true alternative to the D.C. establishment, Haley must also work to overcome accusations that she is a “globalist” more aligned with the priorities of the United Nations than with those of the former president's base.

The criticism of Haley as an establishment candidate is not a particularly recent phenomenon, as it was leveled by former presidential candidate Ron DeSantis before he ended his campaign.

During a debate last month, DeSantis labeled Haley “really reflective of the old, failed Republican establishment of yesteryear,” as The Hill noted.

“I mean, she's getting funded by liberal Democrats from California, like a founder of LinkedIn, people on Wall Street, like the head of JPMorgan, the Florida governor declared.

DeSantis went on, “Guess what, guys, those folks do not want to see conservative change in this country. So why are they gravitating to her?”

While those critiques were not enough to sink Haley's presidential bid at the time, they appear to have gained sufficient steam to prompt a concerted counterattack intended to thwart similar accusations from the Trump campaign.

Indicative of Haley's approach are recent statements from her communications director, Nachama Soloveichik, who recently said, “The political elites never learn. The same naysayers who said Nikki Haley couldn't defeat a 30-year incumbent state legislator or win the governor's race in South Carolina are the same people declaring the presidential race over after only two states have voted.”

“Nikki Haley has never taken her cues from the establishments, and she's not going to start now,” Soloveichik added. “Keep underestimating us -- that will be fun.”

Referencing a wave of recent endorsements Trump has received from lawmakers in Washington, the Haley-affiliated Stand for America Fund declared of her campaign, “This is an insurgency,” and added, “Donald Trump has the support of the politicians in DC.”

The candidate herself has gotten on board with the new messaging push, recently suggesting that anyone who doubts her bona fides should “name one thing that [she] wasn't conservative on.”

“I'm a Tea Party governor. I passed one of the toughest immigration bills in the country. I defended life. I passed voter ID & cut taxes. At the UN, I was tougher on China & Russia than Trump ever was. I'll put my conservative record up against anyone,” Haley said, but whether the broader electorate concurs, only time will tell.