The election of Donald Trump is poised to ruin many Thanksgiving dinners across America, but the president-elect is trying to make things better. If you confine dinner-table discussion to his latest cabinet pick, you won’t have to spend the meal arguing with your uncle over whether Trump is building a team of racists.
South Carolina governor Nikki Haley has accepted Trump’s offer to be his ambassador to the United Nations, sources tell the Post and Courier and the Washington Post. The move is expected to be announced on Wednesday.
Like several other rumored Trump picks, Haley’s qualifications for the job are thin. She worked on trade and labor issues during her six years as governor, but her foreign-policy experience is confined to eight trips to foreign nations to discuss economic-development opportunities in her state.
The Post and Courier says the Trump administration probably wants Haley as the U.S. representative at the U.N. owing to her “strong communication and problem-solving skills.” Her selection will also quiet concerns about the lack of diversity in Trump’s cabinet — and not just because she’s the daughter of Indian immigrants. Trump took some flak because his first five cabinet picks were white men (though, as the Washington Examiner pointed out, the first four people President-elect Obama named were also white). The far bigger issue is that several of those white men on Trump’s team are fringe figures who have been accused of racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism.
Haley, on the other hand, won praise from Republicans and Democrats for her handling of the apparently racially motivated massacre at a Charleston church, which revived the decades-old battle over flying the Confederate flag on Statehouse grounds. She persuaded state lawmakers to take down the flag, at one point describing the racism she was subjected to as a child.
The selection of the rising Republican star will also calm members of the party’s Establishment — particularly if she’s paired with her ally Mitt Romney as secretary of State. According to The Wall Street Journal, the 2012 presidential nominee is Trump’s top pick for the job, but some in his camp are still pushing for Rudy Giuliani, who has been loyal to the mogul.
Like Romney, Haley spoke out against Trump during the campaign. She delivered the GOP’s official State of the Union response in January, which was widely seen as a rebuke of Trump. “During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation,” she said.
She then endorsed Marco Rubio, prompting Trump to tweet:
Haley ultimately voted for Trump based on his policy positions, though she said she was “not a fan” of him or Hillary Clinton, called the election “embarrassing for both parties,” and said, “This election has turned my stomach upside down.”
After the election, Haley said she was “giddy” that Republicans had won control of the White House and Congress. However, while speaking at the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention on Friday, she lectured her own party, saying it needed to conduct an autopsy on how they won, and to emphasize that the GOP is a party that will offer opportunities “to all citizens, regardless of their race, gender or where they are born and raised.”
Haley knew Trump before the election — he donated $5,000 to a political group supporting her in 2012 — and she said their meeting last week wasn’t awkward. “He was a friend and supporter before he ran for president, and was kind to me then,” she said. “But when I see something I am uncomfortable with, I say it.”