Inside Nikki Haley's Relationship With Donald Trump

Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley was one of the earliest members of the Trump Administration. President Donald Trump hired the former South Carolina governor after a contentious 2016 Republican presidential campaign, during which Haley endorsed Trump rivals Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, according to CNN.

"Donald Trump is everything we teach our kids not to do in kindergarten," Haley told The Post and Courier in February 2016. "We have seen behavior over and over again that is just unacceptable."

Haley's lack of support prompted Trump to tweet in March 2016, "The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley!" Like the Southern woman she is, Haley clapped back with her reply, "Bless your heart."

After Trump was the last candidate standing in the crowded Republican field, Haley endorsed the man who would eventually be elected president. However, Haley didn't seem to be the GOP's biggest cheerleader. The former governor gave a somewhat backhanded endorsement while talking to NBC News, saying, "I wouldn't be here if I didn't want to make sure that Hillary was not going to be the next president."

Just before the 2016 election, Haley told CNN, "This election has turned my stomach upside down. It has been embarrassing for both parties. It's not something that the country deserves, but it's what we've got."

Has the relationship between Haley and Trump evolved since the 2016 election? Let's see if Trump now has Haley's support.

Nikki Haley and Donald Trump: Best of frenemies

Donald Trump and Nikki Haley traded words through sound bites and tweets throughout the 2016 presidential election. However, when Trump won the election, he turned to the then-South Carolina governor to serve in his Cabinet as the U.N. ambassador. Trump called Haley "a proven dealmaker" and "a great leader," according to The Boston Globe.

Haley's tenure as ambassador was short-lived, however. She started her role in January 2017 and announced her resignation in October 2018. Haley officially stepped away at the end of 2018.

"A lot of people are going to want to say there's a lot of reasons why I'm leaving," she said, according to Time. "The truth is I want to make sure that this administration, this president, has the strongest person to fight."

During her time as ambassador, Haley defended Trump when criticism was directed his way. It was a change from what had occurred during the presidential campaign. In a Washington Post op-ed, Haley went after an anonymous official who wrote a critical article about the president.

"If I disagree with something and believe it is important enough to raise with the president, I do it. And he listens," she wrote. "Sometimes he changes course, sometimes he doesn't."

Trump also praised Haley and her work as ambassador. "She's done an incredible job. She's a fantastic person, very importantly," he said, per Time.

They're close — but not that close

In the short time Nikki Haley was a part of Donald Trump's White House inner circle, she was the subject of many rumors that surrounded the executive branch. Michael Wolff, the author of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, alleged while promoting his book in January 2018 that the president was having an affair. According to Politico, Wolff hinted that clues of the lover's identity could be found in his book. A passage in the book about Haley spending time on Air Force One prompted readers to speculate that Haley was the adulterer.

"It is absolutely not true," Haley told Politico. "(Wolff) says that I've been talking a lot with the president in the Oval about my political future. I've never talked once to the president about my future and I am never alone with him."

There are also rumors that Haley will replace Vice President Mike Pence on the 2020 Republican ticket. Political experts say the move would help Trump gain women voters. The rumors started in 2018 and have been brought up as recently as March 2020.

"This is not a prediction. It's a certainty. On Thursday, July 16 — that's the date the Democrat gives his or her acceptance address — on that day, to interrupt that narrative, Donald Trump will call a press conference at Mar-a-Lago. He's going to dump Mike Pence and put Nikki Haley on the ticket to try to get those suburban moms," said CNN political analyst Paul Begala, according to The Hill. That "certainty" did not happen.