What We’ve Seen from Nikki Haley on the Campaign Trail

Amanda Hunter | Feb 26, 2024


Since launching her presidential campaign in February of 2023, Governor Haley has made a significant impact for women running for executive office. Here’s what we’ve noted about her on the campaign trail that aligns with our Foundation’s research:


She made history she still made it further on a major party GOP presidential primary ticket than any woman who came before her. She navigated satisfying both gender stereotypes, is important for women seeking executive office. They must show strength, but also not be so tough that they alienate voters.


She always came prepared. Her debate performances will likely be studied by women leaders on both sides of the aisle for years to come. She dressed impeccably, showed confidence, stood up to her opponents, and knew preparation is key. From grouping her male opponents together and calling them “the fellas” to memorable zingers aimed at Vivek Ramaswamy, she did things very much her own way.


She weathered blatant and subtle sexist attacks throughout the primary. Infamously, CNN’s Don Lemon called her “past her prime.” Haley turned this into a fundraising opportunity. Early on, Donald Trump called her a “” (before his attacks took on a more blatant racist tone). While in South Carolina, Ron DeSantis goaded voters to “name one achievement” from her as Governor, which is an effective attack since our research shows that women have to do more to describe their accomplishments. Men can tell but women must show. Haley most recently stood up for herself at a recent press conference, addressing her critics head on and asserting that she has no plans to drop out of the presidential race anytime soon.


She balanced the line. At times she leaned into gender, making her high heels a focal point and a talking point, but was also quick to keep it at arm’s length, saying she doesn’t “play the gender card.” Haley denounced “identity politics.” She’s also said that she doesn’t think there are “glass ceilings” limiting women. During the campaign, she leaned into her identity as a mother, military spouse, and often talked about getting dinner on the table when her children were younger.


She made a difference. By running and making it this far, Governor Haley has chipped away at the stubborn “imagination barrier” we know voters have when it comes to picturing women at the highest levels of government. My boss, Barbara Lee, says she doesn’t think there will ever be another presidential primary without women and people of color on the debate stage.












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