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SC Governor Nikki Haley Chosen to Become UN Ambassador

by Countable | 3.20.17

President-elect Donald Trump has selected South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) — a vocal critic of his during the Republican primary and his presidential campaign — to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. "Governor Haley has a proven track record of bringing people together regardless of background or party affiliation to move critical policies forward for the betterment of her state and our country," Trump said in a statement.

Who is Nikki Haley?

Haley, who will turn 45 on Jan. 20 the day of Trump’s inauguration, was born Nimrata Randhawa in Bamberg, South Carolina, to Sikh parents from the state of Punjab in northern India. Her father, Ajit Singh Randhawa, was an assistant professor at Punjab Agricultural University, and her mother, Raj Kaur Randhawa, had earned a law degree, but they uprooted their growing family and migrated to Canada so he could accept a scholarship to the University of British Columbia. He completed his PhD in 1969, and the family again moved, this time to South Carolina so that he could teach at Voorhees College, a historically black school. He retired in 1998 as chairman of the college’s Department of Natural Sciences. His wife earned a master’s in education and taught in public schools for seven years before opening Exotica International, a women’s clothing store, in 1976.

The Randhawas were the first family of Indian descent to reside in Bamberg, and there were days when they may have felt less than welcome, such as the time when 5-year-old Haley and her 9-year-old sister, Simran, were disqualified from the annual Little Miss Bamberg Pageant. The contest crowned two pageant winners, one black and one white, and the judges decided that the Randhawa girls were neither.

To her family, Haley, who also has two brothers, has been known as Nikki — a nickname meaning "little one" — nearly since birth. She graduated from Clemson University in 1994 with a degree in accounting and was briefly employed by a waste-management company before going to work for her mother. Together, they turned Exotica International into a multimillion-dollar firm.

Her entry into politics in 2004 was inspired, ironically, by a speech given by Hillary Clinton. Haley challenged Larry Koon for a seat in the state House of Representatives despite the fact that Koon, having won every election since 1975, was the House’s longest-serving member. The primary forced a runoff, which Haley won, and she took the seat unopposed, becoming the first member of the American Sikh community to hold office in South Carolina.

In 2010, she defeated the Democratic nominee, Vincent Sheheen, to become only the second Indian-American to hold gubernatorial office and the first Sikh. The nation’s youngest governor, she was considered as a potential running mate by 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney before he chose Paul Ryan, now the Speaker of the House.

Nikki Randhawa and Michael Haley met as students at Clemson and married in 1996. A converted Methodist, she says she regularly attends Methodist and Sikh services but calls herself a Christian. The couple lives in the Governor’s Mansion in Columbia, the state capital, with their daughter, Rena, 18, and son, Nalin, 14.

What’s the outlook for her confirmation?

Haley will probably cruise to confirmation. The Republicans contend that both her gender and her ethnic background would add a dose of diversity to Trump’s Cabinet and senior-level appointments. Plus, her relatively moderate views would counter Trump’s pointed criticisms of the U.N., and the fact that she questioned Trump’s GOP bona fides – quipping that "the American people did not vote for him because he had an ‘R’ next to his name" – suggests that she would not be averse to challenging his opinion on key issues.

While her wider views on many world topics remain unknown, Haley is pro-Israel and has expressed concern over the resettlement of Syrian refugees in South Carolina. She is also pro-life, which could conflict with the U.N.’s championing of sexual and reproductive rights for women.

The Democrats cite her limited foreign policy experience as a negative but acknowledge her role in the removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of the State House in 2015 and her refusal to join fellow Republican governors in suing the Obama administration to block the Syrian resettlement. So Haley will likely sail through the confirmation hearings with limited pushback.

You can tell your senators how to vote on Haley's confirmation using the "Take Action" button below.

What does an Ambassador to the U.N. do?

U.N. ambassadors represent their countries’ interests on the General Assembly and/or the Security Council. The primary duty of the U.S. ambassador, who sits on both, is to keep the State Department informed of all developments at the U.N. and to recommend a course of action to the president and the secretary of state. She can also lobby for Security Council resolutions and block the confirmation of secretaries-general. Only the secretary-general is considered as visible a presence at the U.N. as the U.S. ambassador.

— Erin Wright

(Photo Credit: Governor Nikki Haley via Flickr / Public Domain)

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(245)
  • Kamryn
    01/19/2017
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    Although I am a democrat, and I oppose most of her views, she helped my state (South Carolina) through very rough times. She took action during the flood and contributed to saving thousands of lives. Also she opposed an anti-LGBT bathroom bill similar to "HB2" in North Carolina. She also was a big critic of Trump's xenophobic ideals and said she wasn't a supporter of putting a ban on Muslims form migrating to the country, which shows she can be a decent politician. Again, I don't agree with her on a lot, but with the viewpoint of a South Carolina inhabitant, she's done a lot for our state, and if the Republican Party has to have a female to represent it, I'm glad it's Nikki Haley.

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  • Jimmy
    01/18/2017
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    I would hope that she gets just as intense questioning as everyone else considering her lack of foreign policy experience, but she is probably somewhat on the better side of the GOP. She would have to have tough skin to be a Trump administration pick for the UN considering most of the world thinks we're a bunch of idiots for electing a demagogue.

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  • Dnai23
    01/24/2017
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    Isn't Trump trying to pull out of the UN? Wouldn't that make her job obsolete?

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  • Kevan
    01/18/2017
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    Please approve governor Haley as ambassador to the UN! She is one of the few who deserves it!

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  • Rachel
    01/18/2017
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    Concerned about her stance on women's reproductive rights....

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  • Joseph
    01/18/2017
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    She needs to give her detailed stance on the following issues: Israeli settlement in the West Bank, Russian collusion with Bashar Al-Assad in his mistreatment of civilians in Aleppo, Russia's influence on our electoral process as reported by all major American intelligence agencies, and the rise of populist politics in Several European countries, specifically France and the Netherlands.

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  • Ava
    01/24/2017
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    I will break from my crowd on this one. I am from SC, just moved to FL this year so maybe my vote would count. Oh, Well. But I will state without reserve that Nikki Haley is a very decent, caring woman. Clearly, she is not pro-choice. However, she is pro- human. Her respect for our African American population moved her to remove the long offensive Confederate Flag from the state capital and state buildings. Let me tell you, the bubba band made all kinds of noise, sexist statements, racist statements ABOUT her. She stood strong. So, we have differences, but even when she runs for president, i will never say bad things about her. Lets choose our battles, like an HHS nominee that has all but admitted to a felony under examination and oath (repeated insider trading.)

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  • Ellie
    01/19/2017
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    Now this nomination I can get behind. She may not be perfect but she's kept our state on a solid path. Well done, I say.

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  • Tia
    01/18/2017
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    I support Gov. Haleys nomination so long as it includes a clear probe into her beliefs on women's rights to choose and the advancement of all girls globally.

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  • Charmduri
    01/24/2017
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    She has a negative viewpoint on women's rights and has a history of being anti-LBGT-Q. The rest of the world is moving forward - we do not need yet another individual reinforcing global views that America is moving backwards. Vote no.

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  • Rachel
    01/19/2017
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    Her history of anti-LGBT and anti-women's health policies would make her a poor representative of the US on a global scale. Do not confirm or support her nomination.

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  • Bridget
    01/18/2017
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    Please make sure to question her view on reproductive health and Middle East views. We do not need a representative who is strongly in favor of one state over another in regards to Israel/Palestine.

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  • Diana
    01/19/2017
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    I commented on Nikki Haley's twitter after the murder of the African American church members, without knowing she was a Republican. She had said she hoped that the families could find some peace in his conviction and sentence. I liked what she said, but there were many tweets about why she waited so long for the murderer to go to trial. I pointed out that she had nothing to do with when he went to trial. I think she will make a good ambassador if she agrees not to proselytize about her pro-life choice. So far, she is only one of two Trump choices I have approved. I know one couple that went to Qatar when her husband was tapped for ambassador. There was never any talk about pro-life or pro-choice, ever. It just was never a point f any conversation.

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  • Nancy
    01/20/2017
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    She knows nothing about foreign policy, BUT she's ready to listen and learn. I think in time she could become a good ambassador. Hope she has Samantha Powers on her speed dial. Samantha was one hell of an UN Ambassador.

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  • Thomas
    01/20/2017
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    Nikki Haley admitted today that her foreign affairs knowledge is not good. I actually I admire the fact that she admitted to it. I don't think there is one issue that I agree with her on, but I think she is humble enough to understand she doesn't know it all. This fact sets her apart from almost all of the other cabinet nominees.

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  • Heather
    01/19/2017
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    Any person who is anti-choice is anti-woman, no matter who they are. On other issues Haley is more palatable than many of the current nominees but her anti-reproductive rights stance disqualifies her, along with her sheer lack of experience. What else is new for this PEOTUS's picks though? Just because she is the least egregious (for some), doesn't mean she should just be rushed through. I am weary of women's rights being something we care so little about!

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  • Nancy
    01/19/2017
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    My concern is her negative stance on women's reproductive rights...thus far we see this as a trend in Trumps picks and this is such a critical role for that cause.

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  • Michael
    01/19/2017
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    As a Democrat, our State is totally behind Nikki regardless of some of her views on political issues. She will be fantastic wherever she serves. She was a great governor and I support her (probably the only nominee of Trumps that I support).

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  • Joanne
    01/18/2017
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    I believe Nikki is the most stable pick he made. She will do her homework, unlike the inexperienced billionaires.

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  • Watergirl
    01/19/2017
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    Nikki Haley is probably the least offensive of pres-elect's cabinet choices. That being said she does not represent the majority of the voters who support women's right to choose.

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