- Nikki Haley is embarking on a trailblazing bid as she seeks the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.
- However, GOP voters might not be receptive to accusations of sexism in political attacks.
- A New Hampshire GOP committeewoman said some in the party wanted “to put women back into the 1960s.”
On the same day that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley launched her campaign for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, she rejected the idea of “identity politics” and embarked on a historic path to potentially serve as her party’s standard-bearer.
“I don’t believe in that,” Haley said of the aforementioned term while campaigning in Charleston, SC, on Wednesday. “And I don’t believe in glass ceilings, either. I believe in creating a country where anyone can do anything.”
Haley joins former President Donald Trump as the two major candidates currently in the GOP field, with the ex-president already attacking her record, despite her serving in his administration as ambassador to the United Nations.
But for many Republicans, Haley will have to prove her mettle against Trump, and the notion that a political attack could be deemed as sexist might not be tolerated by many base voters, according to several strategists who spoke with The New York Times.
In one of the early nominating states, Republicans are already seeing action on the ground among candidates, both declared and undecided.
New Hampshire Republican National Committeewoman Juliana Bergeron told the newspaper that she saw Haley as a “credible” candidate but had cautionary words for women navigating the dynamics of Republican politics.
“There are people in our party that want to put women back into the 1960s, and so therefore I think it makes it somewhat more difficult for women in our party,” she said. “And I wish I didn’t have to say that, but that’s how I feel.”
While GOP voters have backed female gubernatorial candidates over the years, including Haley and current figures like Govs. Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Kim Reynolds of Iowa, only a few Republican women have sought the presidency.
If Haley were to win the GOP presidential nomination, she’d be the first female in party history to do so.
In 2015, then-GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, was seen by many observers as a candidate who could potentially attract the support of traditional conservatives and business-oriented Republicans.
However, Trump launched an array of attacks on Fiorina, notably during an interview with Rolling Stone. “Look at that face!” he said at the time. “Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”
“I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not s’posed ta say bad things, but really folks, come on. Are we serious?” he added.
Trump said during a subsequent Fox News appearance that he was speaking of Fiorina’s “persona” and not her appearance but the interview fueled a national debate about sexism when Fiorina was seeking to focus on the merits of her campaign.
She eventually left the race in February 2016 and was tapped by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to serve as his vice presidential running mate that April, but Trump edged out Cruz to win the GOP nomination that year.
Representatives for Trump did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.