Nikki Haley can thank Hillary Clinton for her career as a “key player” in US politics

Look at her.
Look at her.
Image: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
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Donald Trump’s first UN ambassador, former South Carolina governor Nikki Hailey, unexpectedly resigned from her post today. In a press conference today, Donald Trump said she had wanted a break; Haley added that she did not plan to run for office in 2020. Naturally, speculations about her next move are rampant.

Will Haley run for Lindsey Graham’s Senate seat? Will she try a presidential run despite her denials? Graham himself praised her on Twitter, after news broke of her resignation. “She will be a key player in both the future of the Republican Party and our nation as a whole for years to come,” he tweeted.

Haley has built a head-turning career in a relatively short span of time. Through the mercurial turns of the Trump administration, she has managed to avoid public humiliation—unlike many former members of his cabinet.

As a fierce former Trump critic, she likely disagreed with many of his foreign policy decisions, yet has not seemed powerless. Instead, Haley has created an image of herself as someone who speaks truth to power—privately. “What I will tell you is, if there is anything that he communicates in a way that I’m uncomfortable with, I pick up the phone and call him,” she said in an interview with CBS News. “I don’t need to be public about that. I think that’s a private conversation that should happen when I feel it, and I think it’s one that he’s receptive to when I do.”

And one of her role models in all this has been an unlikely figure: Hillary Clinton.

As Quartz wrote after her nomination, Haley publicly explained that her choice to enter public office was inspired by Clinton. In a 2012 conversation with the New York Times, she said, “The reason I actually ran for office is because of Hillary Clinton.”

Here’s the full exchange:


Why are there so few women of your generation in high level politics?


It’s not because the challenge is too hard. It’s simply because women don’t run. The reason I actually ran for office is because of Hillary Clinton. Everybody was telling me why I shouldn’t run: I was too young, I had small children, I should start at the school board level. I went to Birmingham University, and Hillary Clinton was the keynote speaker on a leadership institute, and she said that when it comes to women running for office, there will be everybody that tells you why you shouldn’t but that’s all the reasons why we need you to do it, and I walked out of there thinking “That’s it. I’m running for office.”

As a woman and child of immigrants, Haley herself could have the same effect for future politicians on either side of the aisle—wherever she ends up.