Shortly after Nikki Haley won the 2010 Republican primary for S.C. governor, a Canadian reporter asked political consultant David Woodard if he thought she might run for president one day.
That same question was fueling discussion Tuesday after Haley announced that she is stepping down as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations at the end of this year.
Haley, 46, who served six years as South Carolina’s first female governor, said Tuesday she won’t run against President Donald Trump in 2020.
“Beyond that the sky is the limit,” said Rob Godfrey, who worked on both of Haley’s races for governor and was deputy chief of staff during her second term.
Greenville County Republican Party Chairman Nate Leupp said he thinks Haley is in a “perfect position” to run for president in 2024.
“Her approval rating with both Republicans and Democrats is higher than almost any politician in the country,” he said. “I have never ceased to be amazed by her political astuteness. I could very easily see her as the first female president.”
Woodard, a retired Clemson University professor, said he is uncertain Haley would be successful if she runs for president.
While she has held high-profile positions, “there is nothing that prepares you for what the national stage is like,” Woodard said.
Woodard said he expects Haley will accept a private-sector job after leaving the United Nations that will allow her to make “a mountain of money” while also polishing her credentials for a potential presidential run.
Back in the 2010 primary, Woodard crafted negative ads against Haley that failed to prevent her from winning. He said Tuesday that he was impressed with how she handled her role at the United Nations.
“I thought she would be over her head,” he said. “She has been a good water-carrier for the Trump administration.”
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