Republican candidate Nikki Haley brings calmness to a highly polarised America, say PIO donors and friends

Indian-origin Republican leader Nikki Haley, former Governor of South Carolina and former US Ambassador to the United Nations, is taking part in the first presidential primary debate tomorrow. With this, she is set to make history as one of the two Indian-origin American politicians from the Republican Party to be featured in such a debate — the other one is entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.

Nikki who? ‘She has passion, she has pride for the country, and she has the heart of a servant,’ says her friend. Haley, a Republican presidential aspirant, is seen here at the Iowa State Fair. Photo courtesy: Instagram/nikkihaley

Ahead of the presidential primary debate, donors contributing to the Nikki Haley campaign for the 2024 US presidential elections said that she brought calmness to the highly polarised politics of the United States of America.

They also felt that she was the only candidate to win over a major section of the Democrats without any compromise on the Republican principles and ideology. This is the opinion of donors and close Indian American friends of Nikki Haley, expressed in a series of media interviews in the run-up to the debate.

Aside from Haley, 51, the August 23 presidential primary debate, to be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, will have Vivek Ramaswamy; Florida Governor Ron DeSantis; former US Vice-President Mike Pence; South Carolina Senator Tim Scott; former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson; and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The debate will be telecast on Fox News.

Donald Trump, former President of the United States of America, has said that he would not participate in the debate. Trump is facing a barrage of lawsuits and is likely to surrender himself this week at Fulton County Jail in the state of Georgia.

Speaking about Haley, one of her old friends from South Carolina, successful Indian-origin realtor Bhavna Vasudeva, told the Press Trust of India, “We are ready. This is not the first time she has run a race. All of us were there with her when she ran for Governor (of South Carolina). Everything once again comes back up full circle.”

Creating a character sketch of Haley, her close friend said, “Nikki, who? Why is she running? It’s very obvious to all of us that she’s running because she cares. She has passion, she has pride for the country, and she has the heart of a servant… She’s not entrenched in the political swamp of (Washington) DC. She is not part of that.”

Nikki Haley with Iowa Senator Joni Ernst at the Iowa State Fair. Photo courtesy: Instagram/nikkihaley

Vasudeva continued, “She’s very knowledgeable about the world. When you have a family born in India, you are so much more culturally aware of the world. So I think by far she is the most qualified candidate of all of those running.”

The Nikki Haley campaign was going pretty well, asserted Houston-based Jiten Agarwal, CEQ QuantAi, and a major fundraiser. “Nikki Haley has been very consistent since February, when she launched her presidential bid,” he said.

Having hosted several rounds of fundraisers for her, Agarwal said that he had been able to gather good support for her, but that some voters or some people just wanted to wait and watch the other candidates going for the primary.

“[Nikki Haley] has a moderate conservative appeal. That resonates with a lot of Indian Americans. That has been a good part. But I think this first debate… will be an inflexion point. After that, I should be able to mobilise many more Indian Americans than I have been able to till this point,” Agarwal told PTI.

The Houston-based entrepreneur has known Haley since she ran for South Carolina Governorship. “Actually, at that time, no one thought she would win the election in South Carolina. But then she did… she won 2010, she won 2014, and then she went to the UN in President Trump’s administration. She has been doing all the right things. One thing that we all like is that we haven’t heard [of] anything which has gone wrong when she has been the governor or the US ambassador,” he said.

Arun Agarwal, CEO of Nexxt and a major Indian American donor from Texas, said, “She will not only get Republicans, but she will get those suburban women who [are] totally misaligned, dissented with the politics right now. She might have a position on abortion. She clearly says, yeah I am unapologetically pro-life, but I’m not going to judge anyone…. She clearly says that don’t demonise this issue, humanise it. We don’t know what condition that young lady, a young woman might have gone through.”

Agarwal felt that if Nikki Haley became the final Republican candidate for president, then her victory would be a given against the Democrat candidate, the current President of the United States of America Joe Biden, who seeks re-election in 2024. “There won’t even be a contest if it’s Nikki Haley and Joe Biden. Because Joe Biden, again, would not get that middle vote,” he said.

Citing some research, the donor said that “close to 55 per cent of Americans are right in the middle. They are not leaning ultra-right or ultra-left. They lean very middle in the policies and that’s the vote which is going to win.”

As for how Nikki Haley fared against Vivek Ramaswamy, Agarwal said, “I think Nikki Haley is attracting more Indian Americans; whereas I think Vivek is… speaking more Trump language in a different way.”

Nikki Haley engages with people at a personal level at the Iowa State Fair. Photo courtesy: Instagram/nikkihaley

Mandeep Singh, a real-estate developer and successful entrepreneur, who has known Nikki Haley as a family friend for a long time, said, “She’s operating efficiently from a burn rate perspective — going out to the early states, kind of very much in a boots-on-the-ground type of campaign. Unlike a lot of other candidates, [who] kind of just do interviews on national television, larger rally-type formats, she’s really engaging one-on-one with individuals…. I think, as the election gets closer, that kind of built-up equity between the candidate and the individual person goes a long way.”