Nikki Haley: I was asked by Cabinet members to take sides against the president

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Nikki Haley: I was asked by Cabinet members to take sides against the president

Nikki Haley: I was asked by Cabinet members to take sides against the president

Nikki Haley, the one-time Republican governor of South Carolina and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is no longer in public life. But if a recent visit to a high school near her hometown is any indication, the public isn’t done with her.

The 47-year-old married mother of two has a new book, “With All Due Respect” (St. Martin’s Press), recounting both her tenure in the Trump administration, and her journey from small town Bamberg, S.C., to the world stage.

She told “CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell that she dislikes being described as “ambitious.”

“You know, when women are referred to as ambitious, it’s never in a positive light,” Haley said. “I’ve heard that all my life: She’s so ambitious. No, I’m passionate. I love what I do. I throw myself into it. So, I prefer ‘badass.'”

While Haley is a daughter of the South, she’s also the daughter of immigrants from India. She grew up as Nikki Randhawa.

“We weren’t white enough to be white, we weren’t black enough to be black,” she said. “We were the only Indian family [in town]. My father wore a turban, he still does to this day. My mom in town wore a sari. And I remember we would get teased. And I would leave the playground and come home, and I remember my mom would always say, ‘Your job is not to show them how you’re different. Your job is to show them how you’re similar.'”

It’s a winning formula in politics, and Haley’s Southern charm is a point of pride, as well as a pointed weapon. 

In 2016, she campaigned for Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and against Donald Trump. At a February 29, 2016 rally in Atlanta, Haley said, “Donald Trump, show us your tax return!” 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="When candidate Trump tweeted back "The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley!," she replied with the withering put-down beloved by Southern women: "Bless your heart."” data-reactid=”20″>When candidate Trump tweeted back “The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley!,” she replied with the withering put-down beloved by Southern women: “Bless your heart.”

“I have always kicked with a smile,” Haley said. “Yeah, I’ve always said I wear high-heels and it’s not for a fashion statement. It’s when I see something wrong, I’m gonna kick every time.”

“Stilettos?” asked O’Donnell.

“Yes! Look, I think that, you know, you have to be tough. But I don’t think you have to be disrespectful.”

“You also write in the book that part of your secret to success has been you’ve been underestimated?”

“Always. Always,” Haley said. 

“Does it motivate you? ‘Cause sometimes, for me, being underestimated motivates me.”

“Oh, it absolutely motivates me. I love surprising people. I love letting them know what I’m capable of. And I love challenging myself to prove to them, so that they can be proud.”

As South Carolina Governor, Haley’s most challenging moment came in 2015 when a white supremacist slaughtered nine worshippers at Mother Emanuel, an historic black AME Church in Charleston.  In the aftermath of that tragedy, Haley writes she feared Donald Trump’s angry campaign rhetoric could inspire even more violence.

Still, after the 2016 election, Haley accepted his offer to become U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. And those stilettos? On her first day on the job, she came out kicking:  “For those who don’t have our back, we’re taking names.”

Haley insists she has no immediate plans to run for any office, including the presidency, and as she departed the Trump administration last year she said, “I can promise you what I’ll be doing is campaigning for this one.”

She told O’Donnell, “A year is a long time in politics. It really is a lifetime in politics. And so, I think what’s best for me is take it a year at a time and see what happens.”

With her new book, lucrative speaking engagements, and a seat on the corporate board of Boeing, Nikki Haley acknowledges there are still chapters to be written:  “I’m too young to stop fighting. I’ll always be out there. I’ll always use the power of my voice for what I believe is good.”

      For more info:

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content=""With All Due Respect: Defending America with Grit and Grace" by Nikki R. Haley (St. Martin’s Press), in hardcover, eBook and Audio formats, available via Amazon” data-reactid=”34″>“With All Due Respect: Defending America with Grit and Grace” by Nikki R. Haley (St. Martin’s Press), in hardcover, eBook and Audio formats, available via Amazon

       Story produced by Ed Forgotson. 

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