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Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announces 2024 presidential run

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley made it official Tuesday, announcing her run for president in a video posted on Twitter. A day ahead of a special announcement in Charleston, Haley called for a new generation of leadership. Haley becomes just the second major candidate to announce a campaign for the Republican nomination and is the first to challenge former President Donald Trump, her boss when she served in his administration as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Haley previously said she wouldn't challenge Trump for the nomination if he ran. Obviously, a lot to break down here after this announcement. So here to help us do just that is NPR political correspondent Danielle Kurtzleben. Hi, Danielle.

DANIELLE KURTZLEBEN, BYLINE: Hey, good morning.

FADEL: Good morning. So what stood out to you about this video?

KURTZLEBEN: I mean, to me, it's that Haley is really trying to straddle some really particular lines in messaging about who she is in a Republican Party that isn't - that is fractured and that could be very much more fractured by a lot of people jumping in. So in this video, on the one hand, she references very standard, really traditional Republican ideas. For example, she says the party needs to rediscover financial responsibility. She says that she is there to fight the Washington establishment. Those are very standard Republican language right there. But she also references very current culture war issues, particularly race. Here's one line from very early in the ad.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL AD)

NIKKI HALEY: Some look at our past as evidence that America's founding principles are bad. They say the promise of freedom is just made up. Some think our ideas are not just wrong but racist and evil. Nothing could be further from the truth.

KURTZLEBEN: And I should say that that's over imagery that references The New York Times' "1619 Project," which told the story of America's founding through the lens of slavery. It's also over imagery of people protesting racism, as well as progressive lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Now, as a woman of color running for president on the Republican side, that's some very particular messaging. It makes it clear, hey, I fall in with my fellow Republicans. Even though, you know, I grew up different, I want to unite people. And Republicans, of course, often criticize Democrats as divisive in how they talk about race.

FADEL: So still going on with the anti-wokeness platforms we've seen from other...

KURTZLEBEN: Very much.

FADEL: ...Republican candidate - Republican officials. Remind us of Haley's political resume.

KURTZLEBEN: Yeah. So she started out in the South Carolina Statehouse in 2004, and then she was twice elected governor of South Carolina, in 2010 and 2014. And as a governor, she was - she took a lot of conservative stands. She signed a law restricting abortion after 20 weeks with exceptions for the pregnant person's life, but that was seen as very much a very staunch conservative stand. That was, of course, while Roe was still in effect. One other thing that really marked her governorship was that she signed the law taking down the Confederate flag from the state capitol grounds after the horrific shooting at Mother AME in Charleston. That was, of course, a - is a church that is a Black church. And so that was very much seen as a divisive, racist incident, to say the least. So that is something that will definitely come up in this race.

FADEL: What does Haley's announcement tell us about the broader 2024 landscape now?

KURTZLEBEN: Well, first of all, that you're going to have people like her who were, at one point, very anti-Trump, who then embraced him and are now going to run against him. So there is going to be a lot of that with her, potentially Mike Pence, who is headed to Iowa this week, and also that you are just going to potentially have a really, really big race of people jumping in after her.

FADEL: NPR political correspondent Danielle Kurtzleben. Thank you so much, Danielle.

KURTZLEBEN: Yes. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
Asma Khalid is a White House correspondent for NPR. She also co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast.
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