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Nikki Haley appears at Reagan Library with the presidency on her radar

SIMI VALLEY — Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley swooped into the Reagan Library Friday night, Oct. 14, to plug her new book, but in front of a friendly, conservative crowd, the conversation sounded a lot more like a woman with the presidency in her sights.

“If it looks like there’s a place for me, I’ll give one-thousand percent and I’ll finish it,” she said, answering a question from Reagan Library Executive Director John Heubusch at the tale end of an hour-long conversation that started with her new book but morphed into several issues of the moment of particular interest to conservatives.

That question, put to the former South Carolina governor, was actually a two-parter. A) Will former President Trump run for the presidency again in 2024, and B) What will she do if he doesn’t?

On the former, Haley — picked by Trump during her second term as governor to be the nation’s United Nations  ambassador — said “I don’t think he runs unless he knows one-hundred percent for sure he’s going to win,” she said.

If he doesn’t, Haley spoke like a person very interested in contending, and Heubusch’s questions gave her a stage on which to share her views.  As it is, her visit to the Reagan Library on Friday came on the heels of her visit to Simi Valley last year, during which she delivered a “Time For Choosing” address, part of a series of addresses from leading Republicans on the state and future of the GOP.

Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks about her book, “If You Want Something Done: Leadership Lessons from Bold Women” with John Heubusch, Executive Director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Friday, October 14, 2022. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Previous speakers included former House Speaker Paul Ryan, former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, spoke in April as part of the series. Many of those speakers, along with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, are in the conversation for a run for the presidency.

But it’s a waiting game as Trump ponders his own future.

Haley — whose parents immigrated to South Carolina from India — has long been tapped by the Republican Party in an effort to showcase diversity within its ranks.

Along with fellow South Carolinian Scott, the Senate’s sole Black Republican, she has led an advisory council to a national effort to diversify and grow the GOP. In 2020, both South Carolinians had key speaking roles at the Republican National Convention. And both have frequently spoken openly about personal experiences with discrimination spurred by their skin color.

Which brings the focus back to her recently published book, “If You Want Something: Leadership Lessons from Bold Women.” The title is a play off the words of the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who is known for famously saying, “If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.”

Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley waves as she takes the stage to speak about her book, “If You Want Something Done: Leadership Lessons from Bold Women”, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Friday, October 14, 2022. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Haley’s book highlights 10 iconic women leaders, from the late former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to civil rights trailblazer Claudette Colvin. Before there was Rosa Parks, there was Colvin, who at 15 refused to move to the back of a bus to give up her seat for a White person, in the heart of the segregation era.

The goal was to take away lessons in leadership from the examples of these women while weaving in stories from her own childhood and career. That career began with a harrowing journey, as she faced the barriers of racism and the fact of being a woman in a political world run by White men. Being of Indian descent, she said, added to the complexity of her career path, never quite fitting in. But instead of relenting to the barriers, she decided to run for governor — and won.

That journey was buoyed by lessons from the women she writes about in the book, and their own journeys, often from the most humble of origins.

But conversation about the book morphed into platform for talk about the moment, and the future, in the nation and the world — which had Haley sounding more like a presidential contender than solely an author.

Hillary Clinton’s loss in her run for the presidency was not about a nation not ready for a woman to be president, she said.

“It was not because anybody held her back. She wasn’t the type of leader people wanted to see in America,” Haley said, the Reagan audience audibly approving.

It’s not about “glass ceilings,” it’s about pushing through the perception of them, she said. “If you don’t push through the fear, you never know what could have been.”

Related links

At Reagan Library, Nikki Haley praises Reaganism but rarely mentions Trump
Mike Garcia fights to keep his seat in Congress while Christy Smith seeks a winning message
Congresswoman Liz Cheney tells crowd at Reagan Library ‘we forget the price of freedom’


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