Op-Ed: State senator defends ‘conservative outsider’ Nikki Haley

By Katrina Shealy
Posted 2/12/24

"One of the worst parts of politics is all the name-calling. It’s especially bad when the name-calling has no basis in truth. Case in point: Everything Donald Trump is saying about Nikki Haley."

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Op-Ed: State senator defends ‘conservative outsider’ Nikki Haley


One of the worst parts of politics is all the name-calling. It’s especially bad when the name-calling has no basis in truth. Case in point: Everything Donald Trump is saying about Nikki Haley.

By now, every South Carolinian has heard the former president’s slurs against our former governor. Nikki is a “globalist.” Nikki is a “RINO,” which stands for “Republican in Name Only.” Nikki is an “insider,” the “establishment” candidate. The list goes on.

With all due respect, Donald Trump doesn’t know what he’s talking about. If he does, he’s spinning a tale that’s 100% fiction, 0% fact. South Carolina has known Nikki Haley for the better part of two decades, and at every stage, she has proven herself to be a true conservative and a classic outsider.

I say that as someone who represents the same part of the state — Lexington County — where Nikki Haley got her start. She ran against the longest-serving Republican in the State House, a typical good ol’ boy who cared more about back-scratching than doing the right thing. He and the rest of the establishment tarred Nikki with lies, but she stood strong and won a resounding victory.

Guess what Nikki did next? She went after the tool the insiders used to cement their power. She took on the most conservative fights — because that’s what the people of South Carolina wanted. Most famously, she fought to put every spending vote on the record, so the people could know how our elected leaders spent our money.

Nikki ran for governor as a conservative outsider, too — and after she won, she kept fighting the most important conservative battles. She cut taxes and spending, passed pro-life laws protecting mothers and babies, delivered ethics reform, and got tough on illegal immigration. On so many issues, the establishment fought her tooth and nail. But Nikki fought back and won big.

What about Nikki’s time as ambassador to the United Nations? Ask anyone who saw her, and they’d say: She was still that conservative outsider. She ignored the nonsensical precedents and rules created by the foreign policy elite, like when she met with Israel and Ukraine ahead of enemies like China and Russia. Every day for two years, Nikki projected American strength and leadership. The rest of the world had no idea how to respond because they’d never encountered a conservative outsider before.

For the record, Donald Trump used to know all this. He had plenty of praise for Nikki’s performance as ambassador when she resigned, saying she’d “done an incredible job.” He even said he’d hire her back. Why? No doubt because she took on the elites and establishment in a principled way.

Now the former president is saying the opposite — that she’s a RINO globalist who’s not really conservative. If that’s true, then why did he hire her in the first place? Why did he praise her and say she did such a great job? In fact, his attacks and ugly names merely show that he’s afraid of her, and now he’s lying in a desperate attempt to beat her.

South Carolinians are smarter than that. We know that Nikki Haley hasn’t changed. She’s still the same conservative outsider she’s always been. She’d break up the old boy’s club in Washington, D.C., same as she did in Columbia and the United Nations. She’d pick the right fights and pass the right reforms, even though the establishment will oppose her every step of the way.

It’s about time we had a leader like that in the White House—someone who doesn’t just pick fights, but wins them, for the sake of the people and the principles we hold dear. Nikki Haley is the president we need, and no name-calling or falsehood can fool the people of South Carolina.

Katrina Shealy represents the 23rd District in the state Senate.

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