Nikki Haley is no ordinary Republican. When the 51-year-old declared on 14 February her desire to run for 2024 presidency, Ms Haley became the first Republican to challenge party stalwart Donald Trump. Her declaration portends an inner-party storm. Ms Haley is both a challenge and a sleight for Mr Trump. Ms Haley had served under Mr Trump as South Carolina’s first female and non-white governor and as US envoy to the United Nations.

Bluntness Will be Her Strength

Reason why Ms Haley is not an equal match for the former president. Yet, she has dared to run for presidency against Mr Trump. This is causing a Republican stir, as her announcement brings to the fore inner-party conflicts. Plus, it highlights how murkier the contest may get in the days ahead. Welcoming contests is good, but challengers keep emerging from within the Party. This is making a heavyweight Mr Trump more insecure.

The Republicans should thank Ms Haley for Mr Trump’s uneasiness. They know one-man dominance is toxic for the Party. Ask Florida governor Ron DeSantis and he is sure to give the lowdown on this toxicity. Ms Haley can do this as well, she has been a victim of this one-man grip. Sure, she can tell the Republicans how vicious personality politics is. Her bluntness will be her strength in any prospective Republican contest.

Continues to Condemn Mr Trump

Ms Haley has been blunt often, but less confrontational. She expresses her disapproval for white supremacy. She is a vocal critic of Trumpian xenophobia and misogyny. After all, her parents were immigrants from the Indian state of Punjab. Despite being a Republican, Ms Haley calls out xenophobes and misogynists. This should explain why Ms Haley’s presidential bid is a Republican storm.

A storm for sure. Ms Haley hasn’t stopped disliking Mr Trump’s links with Ku Klux Klan, the American white-supremacist and right-wing hate group. .She continues to condemn his obsession with building a wall on the southern border with Mexico. Inspired, she had supported Florida senator Marco Rubio and Texan senator Ted Cruz as presidential alternatives to Mr Trump. Now, in a flip flop, she is offering herself as an alternative.

Not Averse to Doing Somersaults

Anti-Trumpism has long been an article of faith for her. Not surprising, Ms Haley was outspoken enough at the United Nations in 2016 to criticise Mr Trump’s authoritarian ways. She was a bull in Mr Trump’s shop, and thus had to resign after a couple of years. In her own words, Ms Haley is Thatcheresque. However, unlike Margaret Thatcher, the British strongwoman, Ms Haley does not mind doing about-turns for political gains.

Ms Haley’s somersaults are legendary. She was tight-lipped over Mr Trump’s stolen-election charade. Though she denounced the Capitol Hill insurrection, she backed Mr Trump later by hitting out at his impeachment. She never missed an opportunity to prove her opportunism. As the morally-bankrupt Republicans continue to distrust her, she trails Mr Trump and Mr DeSantis now in popularity polls among the Republicans.

Timing Her Presidential Bid

Unflustered, Ms Haley is drawing comfort from similar Republican predicaments. Mr Trump’s still-loyal cronies – former vice president Mike Pence and former secretary of state Mike Pompeo – too have been dipping in popularity polls. This has pushed Ms Haley to project and promote herself as a presidential prospect. Plus, she is banking on the possibility of Mr Trump not securing a smooth presidential nomination.

The probability of this happening is high. The midterm debacle of Trump-backed candidates increases this probability further. Ms Haley is viewing these as cues to strike. Plus, Mr DeSantis is going strong, Mr Trump is nervous and Ms Haley hopes the time is right to run for presidency. Viewed through these positive prisms, Ms Haley’s timely presidential bid has the potential to set off a storm in her Trump-dominated Party.

Appears Hopeful Against Odds

As a proof, more Republicans are keen to join the coming presidential slugfest. Prominent among them are: Ron DeSantis, former vice president Mike Pence, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo and South Carolina senator Tim Scott. Biding their time to declare their presidential intentions are: Governors Christopher Sununu of New Hampshire, Glenn Youngkin of Virginia and former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. Many more are waiting on the kerb.

As the presidential poll sees more contestants, Ms Haley may not be able to rise up to Mr Trump. She will be pushed to leverage her campaign skills to ensure the contest narrows down between her and Mr DeSantis. Bad news for Ms Haley, many Republican observers feel Mr Trump has greater chances to win the final nomination, though he is likely to lose to Mr Biden. Yet, Ms Haley appears solemnly hopeful of narrowing the contest down.

Difficult Options for a Misfit

Not so hope-inspiring are the shifts in loyalties of rich and influential Republican donors, who are leaning towards Mr DeSantis of late. Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman, Citadel’s Ken Griffin and the Interactive Brokers founder Thomas Peterffy are among them. They do not trust Ms Haley and may spoil her prospects. This is bad news for Ms Haley, and she may be forced to look at other options.

The vice-presidential option is difficult for Ms Haley to grab, as she may face stiff competition from Arizona’s Kari Lake and South Dakota’s Kristi Noem. As a self-styled perfectionist, Ms Haley is a misfit in the Republican Party. While announcing her decision to run for presidency, Ms Haley expressed her desire, uncharacteristic of a Republican, to break away from rank divisiveness and address issues of concern to the mainstream.

In Conclusion

Yet, Ms Haley is there in the divisive Party, alongside Mr Trump. Plus, she wants to run for presidency as a Republican candidate, with her trademark opportunism in full display. She is inciting the Republicans to break from a past of popular-vote losses in seven out of eight presidential polls, but she is hellbent on trouncing Mr Trump. Ms Haley has arrived as the perfect Indian storm inside the Grand Old Party.