South Carolina’s Indian-American Governor Nikki Haley has met President-elect Donald Trump in New York and had “good” discussions about the new administration, amid reports that she was a top contender for either secretary of state or secretary of commerce in his Cabinet.
“Governor Haley was pleased to meet with President-elect Trump,” Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said as American media reported about swirling speculation about his Cabinet picks. “They had a good discussion, and she is very encouraged about the coming administration and the new direction it will bring to Washington,” Godfrey said.
But details of the meeting were scarce, South Carolina’s The State newspaper reported today on yesterday’s Haley-Trump meeting in New York’s Trump Tower. Haley, 44, a late endorser of Trump, originally threw her support behind Florida Senator Marco Rubio before the South Carolina primary in February.
Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, was a vocal critic of the real estate mogul on the campaign trail. She later voted for Trump, lamenting that she was “not a fan” of either candidate. South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Henry McMaster, the first statewide official in the country to endorse Trump, had said on Wednesday that Haley was a contender for secretary of state and one other post, speculated to be secretary of the commerce.
Haley’s meeting with Trump came a day after she was elected vice chair of the Republican Governors Association, a nationally visible post that puts her in line to become the chair of the Republican group in 2018. Kellyanne Conway, manager of Trump’s presidential campaign, told reporters about the Trump-Haley meeting, showing off a photo of herself with Haley.
“We’re just happy to have her here for her advice and her counsel, and hearing about the great success story that is South Carolina under her leadership,” Conway said. US Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican, said he would support Haley as Trump’s secretary of state. “She’s talented, capable and would do a good job in any assignment given to her,” said Graham, a longtime Trump critic.
“Nikki is a traditional Republican when it comes to foreign policy – more like Ronald Reagan than (Republican US Senator) Rand Paul. I like her a lot. I would certainly support her.” US Senator Tim Scott, another Republican, agreed. “She is a natural leader, and I think our country would benefit greatly from her leadership if she were to be nominated for a position,” said Scott, who originally was appointed to a Senate vacancy by Haley.
Haley was a critic of Trump during his primary campaign. Born Nimrata “Nikki” Randhawa, Haley is the first minority and female governor of South Carolina, a deeply conservative state with a long history of racial strife. As the youngest governor in the US and only the second Indian-American to serve at the helm of a US state, she has been characterised as a rising star within the Republican Party.