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Nikki Haley: UN ambassador, governor

Nikki Haley prided herself on being the last challenger standing between the “chaos” of Donald Trump and the 2024 Republican White House nomination.

Now her dreams of becoming America’s first female president have evaporated.

Following a slew of losses in the United States’ drawn out, state-by-state primary season, including defeats to Donald Trump in almost all 15 state contests waged on “Super Tuesday”, the conservative former governor of South Carolina has suspended her presidential campaign.

The 52-year-old was little known outside her native South Carolina before Mr Trump tapped her as ambassador to the United Nations back in 2017.

Ms Haley used the high-profile UN post to cultivate an image as a plain-speaking conservative.

Speculation about her presidential ambitions had been building since she left Mr Trump’s cabinet in 2018.

And even as the ex-president eclipsed her in this year’s primaries, she held out, demanding voters be given a choice beyond what will now almost certainly be a rematch of the 2020 election.

Other Republicans with ambitions for the highest American office had largely bowed down to Mr Trump and his capture of the party, wary of the businessman’s hardcore, far-right base.

Ms Haley meanwhile ran a campaign that criticised the “ranting, raving and chaos” of the twice-impeached, criminally indicted Mr Trump, urging voters that it was “time for a new generation of leadership”.

Her sustained campaign raised questions for the upcoming general election, where the ex-president will almost certainly face off with Joe Biden.

While Mr Trump is backed by a passionate core of supporters ready to ignore his attack on the 2020 election and four ongoing criminal cases, it remains to be seen whether middle-of-the-road Republicans who favored Ms Haley will commit to Mr Trump in November.

As UN envoy, Ms Haley – who previously served for six years as South Carolina’s governor – was known for speaking her mind, often in undiplomatic language.

She was the face of the White House to the world on everything from North Korean denuclearisation to the war in Syria.

Donald Trump appointed Nikki Haley as as ambassador to the United Nations in 2017

‘Not a fan’

The daughter of Indian immigrants, Nikki Haley was raised as a Sikh but identifies as Christian. She proved to be the face of diversity in a cabinet that was overwhelmingly white.

She was not exactly on the Trump train from the get-go – she endorsed Florida Senator Marco Rubio during the Republican primary race in 2016 before backing Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

Indeed, she called Mr Trump “everything a governor doesn’t want in a president,” and just weeks before the election, admitted she was “not a fan” of the candidate.

So understandably, eyebrows were raised when Mr Trump chose Ms Haley – who had little foreign policy experience – as Washington’s voice at the United Nations.

Born in 1972, in Bamberg, South Carolina, Nimarata “Nikki” Randhawa – a mother of two – rose quickly in the southern state’s politics, serving in its House of Representatives from 2005 to 2011, when she was elected governor.

Her conservative views and outspoken but collegial style were popular in her home state.

She got headlines in 2015 by supporting the removal of the Confederate flag from the state house after a white gunman opened fire at a black church in Charleston, killing nine parishioners.

She has also been a fierce defender of Israel and critic of Russia.

During the campaign she flexed her foreign policy chops, recently launching a fusillade of attacks against Mr Trump over his encouragement of Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade NATO allies in Europe.

“Trump is siding with a dictator who kills his political opponents,” she said last month.

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