Nikki Haley Starts a PAC as Others Wonder if the GOP has Learned Anything

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Some big news is afoot, at least inside the beltway. Nikki Haley, the former Governor of South Carolina and Trump official, has started a PAC in preparation for her run in 2024. It’s called the “Stand for America PAC,” a name so boilerplate that you have to assume whoever came up with it is overpaid.

Here’s her announcement.

Look, I don’t have anything against Nikki Haley. She’s not anywhere near my preferred choice for 2024, but if she were to get the nomination, I wouldn’t oppose her. But I do think it’s worth asking whether the Republican party is going to learn anything from the Trump years or if they are just going to double down on what the voter base doesn’t want. Haley seems to be a perfectly fine woman, but she’s simply doesn’t have the personality, nor does she have the policy preferences in some areas that your average Trump voter wants. And to be frank, if you can’t attract the Trump contingent, which is massive in the GOP, you can’t win a general election, much less a primary.

Drew Holden took a shot this morning and I think he’s on target.

His description is basically Haley to a tee. It’s not that all her policy prescriptions are wrong. Most of them are perfectly acceptable to conservatives, but there are two things which stick out to me. One, her foreign policy is much more in the Bush mold, which is a part of the Republican party the base is still seeking to exorcise, not rejuvenate. Secondly, she’s just so milquetoast and cliched. Everything that comes out of her mouth sounds like it was thought up in some back room in Washington. Even when she says something good, it’s so overly processed, usually said in buzzwords that went out of style over a decade ago. There’s nothing about her that will connect with working class voters, which is basically the GOP’s path forward if they can recapture some suburbs along the way.

Yet, Haley does speak to a portion of the Republican party, namely those who write on politics for a living, who see her as a “return to normalcy” and a repudiation of Trump’s style. She will almost certainly gain traction early on for one big reason I’ll get into now.

Trump voters are still enamored with Trump, which is to be expected. They are Trump voters after all. Given that, unless Trump decides against a 2024 run (or is barred by the Senate), he will suck all the oxygen away from viable alternatives like Ron DeSantis and Kristi Noem. I say that to say that any Haley surge over the next few years may be a mirage that quickly disappears if Trump steps aside and allows the younger evolution of his movement to fill his space. I personally hope that’s what he does, as I don’t think running an 80 year old Trump in 2024 is prudent for a variety of reasons.

Regardless, I’ll let you guys decide what you think of Haley. Again, she’s not a bad person. She’s not completely objectionable on a political level either. I thought she did some good things as UN Ambassador. But if the GOP has learned anything from the Trump years, it should probably be that Haley’s form of Republicanism just doesn’t resonate anymore. You aren’t gonna out-nice Democrats. They’ll just chew you up and spit you out.

(Please follow me on Twitter…@bonchieredstate)