Background on the candidate’s statements, positions, and record on diplomacy, global development, and U.S. international affairs programs.
A former state representative, Governor of South Carolina, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley has worked to advance American global leadership, stating that “U.S. leadership is essential to the world.” She often states that “when America fails to lead, the world becomes a dangerous place.”
America’s role in the world figured prominently in Haley’s presidential announcement speech, when she stated, “As ambassador, I saw that America is still the standard. Where we lead, the world follows. When we speak, the world listens. Who we are, the world wants to be.” She has spoken frequently on the threats from rising authoritarianism around the world, stating that “China and Russia are on the march.”
Serving in the last Administration, Ambassador Haley led American diplomacy at the United Nations from 2017 to 2018 and pursued a bold U.S. agenda on the global stage, rallying world leaders to condemn Russian war crimes, reduce nuclear arms development in North Korea, combat humanitarian crises, pursue UN reform, and protect human rights.
As ambassador and on the campaign trail, Haley has had a mixed message on using U.S. foreign assistance as a tool to advance U.S. interests, however she has been a consistent defender of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine stating that “it’s in the best interests of our national security for Ukraine to win. We have to see this through. We have to finish it.”
Haley’s husband, Major Michael Haley, recently deployed for a yearlong stint in the Horn of Africa with the 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade of the South Carolina Army National Guard. Haley is the fifth prominent Republican woman ever to run for the presidency and would be the first president of Indian descent.
On U.S. global leadership:
- During her tenure at the UN, Ambassador Haley often highlighted the power of America’s voice as critical component of U.S. global leadership. At a bipartisan event with other former UN Ambassadors, Haley stated, “It’s always going to be important for us to know the power of our voice and also know what leadership means to the world.”
- In a speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, she shared her view of U.S. leadership at the United Nations: “Leadership is taking a stand. It means never forgetting that there is good and evil in the world. It means being crystal clear that you stand on the side of good.”
- In a FOX News interview in 2017, Haley pointed to “the lack of stability around the world” noting that “whether you look at Syria… issues in Africa… Venezuela and the Philippines… you can’t take your eye off of any part of the world right now.” She said that “the U.S. needs to lead in every single one of [these crises]. That doesn’t mean military action, but it means having a loud voice.”
- During her travels as U.S. ambassador to the UN, she put a spotlight on the global refugee crisis and repeatedly met with refugees and displaced families in the Middle East and Africa, highlighting the grave need for humanitarian resources. She stated, “You can never prepare yourself for this… you see these little kids… they’re malnourished… It’s really such an amazing sense of inspiration to see the survival that these people have gone through.”
- At a Polaris National Security event on the campaign trail, Haley said “We should always care about human rights, it’s who we are at the core of being Americans. We believe in freedom, we believe in everyone, having, you know, economic freedom, religious freedom, freedom to speak, freedom to live, all of those things.” She added that during her service at the UN the important role of speaking out on human rights, “we called it out every time, whether it’s our friends or our foes… it’s our responsibility, it’s our duty as Americans.”
- Ambassador Haley has shared a mixed view on the United Nations. She stated in a 2020 speech at the Republican National Convention that “the U.N. is not for the faint of heart. It’s a place where dictators, murderers, and thieves denounce America, and then put their hands out and demand that we pay their bills.” During her service at the UN, she stated, “My job is to show the American people, why [the UN] matters to us what the role of the United Nations can be, how we can make it more effective.”
- As ambassador, Haley traveled around the world representing the United States, including to Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Israel, South Sudan, and Switzerland. As governor, she traveled overseas on economic development missions including to India, Sweden, France, Germany, and Japan.
- At the third Republican primary debate in November 2023, Haley said, “We have a war in Europe. We’ve got a war in the Middle East. We’ve got China on the march. It is very important that we know how to defend our freedoms and how to defeat terrorism and socialism. We have to know the difference between good and evil. Right and wrong. We need to know that a strong America doesn’t start wars, a strong America prevents wars.”
On U.S. foreign assistance:
- Ambassador Haley has had a mixed and evolving view on when she believes U.S. foreign assistance should be deployed and when she considers it to be in U.S. national interests. During her Senate confirmation hearing for U.S. ambassador to the UN, she stated she did not believe in a “slash and burn approach” when it comes to U.S. funding for the United Nations. She has also campaigned on proposals to reduce foreign aid.
- During a 2017 trip visit with Syrian refugees, she stated her view on U.S. humanitarian leadership: “Whenever we see anyone in pain, whenever we anyone in need, we help them… We’re the number one donor here through this crisis… that’s not going to stop, we’re not going to stop funding this.”
- During her tenure at the UN, her office authored a significant report – entitled “America First Foreign Assistance Policy” – which detailed a new proposal for conditioning and cutting U.S. foreign assistance based upon how countries vote with the U.S. at the UN.
- In a significant speech at the AIPAC Policy Conference 2018, she later clarified the proposed approach stating that “UN votes should never be the only factor in our foreign aid decisions. We have many interests that go beyond the UN, but they should be one of the factors. And we are determined to start making that connection.”
- As independent fact checkers have clarified that U.S. foreign assistance largely does not go to foreign governments but instead is often implemented by American NGOs to promote stability and advance U.S. interests, she has continued her message on the campaign trail on conditioning foreign aid. She published a significant op-ed in 2023 stating that she “will cut every cent in foreign aid for countries that hate us.”
- At a POLARIS National Security event on the campaign trail, Ambassador Haley said, “Make no mistake PEPFAR, was a fantastic, fantastic program that we were part of.” She added that “Many, many lives were saved. I’ve been back to Africa multiple times and seeing what PEPFAR has continued to do and it’s one of the ways where we can find a win-win situation.”
On the global competition with China:
- Ambassador Haley has described China as the number one national security threat to the U.S., stating, “they are eating our lunch right now” stating that “America is now in a dangerous situation against a powerful enemy.“
- In June 2023, she published a significant plan to “confront the Chinese threat” including her proposals to “root out” Chinese influence in the United States, “protect our economy”, and to “transform the military.” On the opioid crisis in the U.S., she has also called on Congress to “revoke permanent normal trade relations until the flow of fentanyl ends.”
- On the campaign trail, Haley has spoken out on the risks of China’s influence at the United Nations and in multilateral organizations, including the World Health Organization, stating “This is what China does… They try and leverage and get influence.”
- Haley regularly makes the connection between China and Taiwan and Russia and Ukraine, stating, “China is closely watching American resolve in Ukraine.”
On the war in Ukraine:
- Ambassador Haley has been a strong and constant defender of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine throughout the Russia’s invasion of the sovereign nation. She has framed the war as a broader geostrategic issue, stating “This is bigger than Ukraine… This is a war about freedom and it’s one we have to win.” She has described the Russia as “attempting to brutally expand by force into a neighboring pro-American country.”
- She has spoken out against views that the U.S. should not help the Ukrainians, stating, “They say we should ignore Ukraine, so we can focus on China. This has it backward. China loses if Ukraine wins.” She has added, “It’s naive to think we can counter China by ignoring Russia. It’s a dangerous world and backing away from support for Ukraine would embolden those looking to harm U.S. interests.”
- At a POLARIS National Security event, Haley described how the U.S. “had no better ally in the United Nations than Ukraine.” She added that “they were with us on every vote. They stood with me at every press conference, whether I invited them or not, they were always there, an amazing ally to us.”
- At the first Republican primary debate in August, Haley said, “So when you want to talk about what has been given to Ukraine, less than three and a half percent of our defense budget has been given to Ukraine. If you look at the percentages per GDP, 11 of the European countries have given more than the US.”
- Haley described the stakes in Ukraine at the second Republican primary debate in September, saying, “A win for Russia is a win for China.”
- She elaborated on this connection at the fourth Republican primary debate in December, saying, “There is no one happier right now than Putin because all of the attention America had on Ukraine suddenly went to Israel. And that’s what they were hoping is going to happen. We need to make sure that…there is a reason again that Taiwanese want to help Ukrainians because they know if Ukraine wins, China won’t invade Taiwan. There’s a reason the Ukrainians want to help Israelis because they know that if Iran wins, Russia wins. These are all connected. But what wins all of that is a strong America, not a weak America.”
U.S. Global Leadership Coalition hosted Ambassador Haley on our stage at our 2017 Tribute Dinner in Washington D.C.