Photo of Nikki Haley

Remarks Announcing Candidacy for President in Charleston, South Carolina

February 15, 2023

Thank you! It's a great day in South Carolina!

Thank you all for being here.

I'm so glad to be with the people I love, in the state I love, to talk about saving the country I love.

I have always had a deep belief in America.

But I know America is better than all the division and distractions we have today.

And I'm confident the American people agree…

We're ready… ready to move past the stale ideas and faded names of the past…

And we are more than ready for a new generation to lead us into the future!

I come here today with a vision of that future.

I see a strong America – full of opportunity, that lifts up everyone, not just a select few.

I see a proud America – confident in who we are, and what we stand for.

And I see America leading the world – in freedom and peace.

But this vision isn't just mine.

It's the core of our nation's history…and it called to my parents over fifty years ago.

I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants.

My parents left India in search of a better life.

They found it in Bamberg, South Carolina – population, 2,500.

Our little town came to love us, but it wasn't always easy. We were the only Indian family.

Nobody knew who we were, what we were, or why we were there.

But my parents knew.

And every day, they reminded me, my brothers, and my sister that even on our worst day, we are blessed to live in America.

They were right then – and they're right now.

My parents came to a country that was gaining strength and growing in confidence.

But that was then.

Now America is falling behind.

Our future is slipping. Our leaders are failing us.

And no one embodies that failure more than Joe Biden.

Right now, in the greatest country in human history, we have too many families paying too much for groceries; too many mothers searching frantically for baby formula; and too many children who are so far behind in the classroom, they might never get ahead.

We have too many small businesses who can't afford rent, and too many big businesses getting taxpayer bailouts.

We have too much crime on our streets – too many drugs flooding our cities – and too few police and border patrol.

And from Joe Biden on down, our leaders put too much trust in big government and too little trust in the American people.

They have us spiraling toward socialism, with a new trillion-dollar spending bill every few months, and a national debt over 30 trillion dollars.

This is not the America that called to my parents…

And make no mistake: This is not the America I will leave to my children!

We must stop socialism, before it's too late. It's weakening America from within.

But there's something else eating away at our national core.

On Biden and Harris's watch, a self-loathing has swept our country.

It's in the classroom, the boardroom, and the backrooms of government.

Every day, we're told America is flawed, rotten, and full of hate. Joe and Kamala even say America is racist.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The American people know better. My immigrant parents know better…

And take it from the first minority female Governor in history: America is not a racist country!

This self-loathing is a virus more dangerous than any pandemic.

It's a symptom of a lack of pride in our country and a lack of trust in our leaders.

And it ignores the values that have sustained America since our founding.

I have traveled around the world and back. I've seen what else is out there.

America isn't perfect. But the principles at America's core are perfect.

And the American people are not full of hate. We are full of love – and we are sustained by faith.

I always go back to the Book of Joshua:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. For God will be with you wherever you go.

Strengthening America — believing once again in America — is the only way to defend ourselves from those who want to destroy us.

When America is distracted, the world is less safe…

And today, our enemies think the American era has passed.

They're wrong. America is not past our prime. It's just that our politicians are past theirs!

Joe Biden isn't even leading from behind. He's not leading at all.

On his watch, a terrorist mob conquered Afghanistan – and killed our troops.

Iran is on the brink of getting the bomb.

North Korea is launching more missiles than ever.

Russia started the biggest war in Europe in 75 years.

And in Communist China, we face the strongest and most disciplined enemy in history.

It is unthinkable that Americans would look at the sky and see a Chinese spy balloon looking back at us.

China's dictators want to cover the world in communist tyranny. And we're the only ones who can stop them.

But let me be clear. We won't win the fight for the 21st Century if we keep trusting politicians from the 20th Century.

America is on a path of doubt, division, and self-destruction. A path of fading patriotism and weakening power.

The stakes are nothing less than our survival.

And you and I and every American is being summoned to take bold action.

And so, I have an announcement to make.

I stand before you as the daughter of immigrants – as a proud wife of a combat veteran – and as the mom of two amazing children…

I've served as Governor of the great state of South Carolina – and as America's ambassador to the United Nations…

And above all else, I'm a grateful American citizen who knows our best days are yet to come, if we unite and fight to save our country.

I have devoted my life to this fight. And I'm just getting started.

For a strong America…

For a proud America…

I am running for President of the United States of America!

When I look to the future, I see America strong once more.

We'll end inflation and build an economy that works for all, just like we did here in South Carolina.

In the America I see, every child gets a world-class education – because every parent gets to pick their child's school. And no politician will be able to close those schools ever again!

In the America I see, police know we have their backs – criminals know we have their number – and our streets will be safe again!

In the America I see, we stop the surge of drugs and illegal immigration. That means having a real border and mandatory e-verify, like we got done in South Carolina. Businesses must hire Americans – not illegals!

In the America I see, everyone has full confidence in our elections. Voter ID will be the law of the land – like we did in South Carolina!

The America I see is freer and better for all – because Washington will finally serve the people instead of the political class.

We'll end corporate welfare and bailouts for big business – and we'll end the earmarks and pork that fuel big government.

And when it comes to our politicians, we'll light a fire under them…

Their job is not to say things on TV. Their job is to do things in DC – like solve problems instead of ignoring or creating them!

In the America I see, the permanent politician will finally retire…

We'll have term limits for Congress – and mandatory mental competency tests for politicians over 75 years old!

Most of all, I see a strong America because I see a proud America.

Strong and proud – not weak and woke – that's the America I see!

The America I see will win the fight for the 21st Century.

We'll have the courage and confidence to defend our values and defeat our enemies.

In this America, the Armed Forces of the United States will be stronger and more capable than ever.

A strong military doesn't start wars. A strong military prevents wars!

In this America, we'll start pumping more oil and gas – and stop buying dirty oil from Venezuela.

We'll stand with our allies – from Israel to Ukraine – and stand up to our enemies – in Iran and Russia.

And in the America I see, Communist China won't just lose…

Like the Soviet Union before it, Communist China will end up on the ash-heap of history!

Realizing this vision won't be easy. It will take an unparalleled level of commitment from all of us.

It requires faith and a willingness to move past the status quo.

And it will require doing some things we've never done…

Like sending a tough-as-nails woman to the White House.

We need someone who can shake up Washington and the political class.

I've done it before – starting right here.

I will always be grateful to the people of South Carolina who took a chance on me.

When I ran against the longest-serving legislator in the state, no one said I had a shot, but together we won.

When I ran for Governor, people said, "Nikki who?" But together, we won.

Then we cut taxes, created thousands of jobs, and revitalized our economy.

Business journals started calling South Carolina the Beast of the Southeast – which I loved!

When President Trump nominated me for Ambassador to the United Nations, people said I didn't have the experience.

Then I went to work.

I told the world that America would have the backs of our allies, and for those who did not have our backs, we were taking names!

The dictators, murderers, and thieves at the UN didn't know what hit them.

I've been underestimated before. That's always fun!

And I've been shaking up the status quo my entire life.

As I set out on this new journey, I will simply say this…

May the best woman win.

All kidding aside, this is not about identity politics. I don't believe in that. And I don't believe in glass ceilings either.

I believe in creating a country where anyone can do anything and achieve their own American Dream.

The college student who's paying too much, and getting too little from her education…

The young adult, in his first real job, wondering how he'll ever afford a mortgage or start a family…

The single mom working two jobs and three times harder than everyone else…

The small-town dad, who saw the factory leave town and thinks his future went with it…

I am fighting for all of us – because all of us have to be in this together!

But hear this.

Unity does not come from faint hearts or watered-down compromises. That just leaves everyone wanting more.

Real national unity comes from boldly proclaiming our national purpose and persuading opponents to join us.

My purpose is to save our country from the downward spiral of socialism and defeatism.

I aim to move America upward toward freedom and strength.

I'll take this message far and wide in the days ahead.

And I have a particular message for my fellow Republicans.

We've lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections.

Our cause is right, but we have failed to win the confidence of a majority of Americans.

Well, that ends today.

If you're tired of losing, then put your trust in a new generation.

And if you want to win – not just as a party, but as a country – then stand with me!

As my family and I start this journey, we ask for your prayers. And yes, of course, we ask for your vote.

But there's something else we need even more. Something our country needs above all else…

It's your spirit and your belief in America.

Look past the failed ideas and leaders in Washington – and find the courage to be part of the solution.

Cast off the fear that our best days are behind us – and join the movement for our country's renewal.

See the same America I see… and stand for America, together with me.

I'm more confident than ever that we can make this vision real in our time – because that's what I've seen my entire life.

As a brown girl, growing up in a black-and-white world, I saw the promise of America unfold before me.

As the proud wife of a combat veteran, I saw our people's deep love of freedom, and determination to defend it.

As Governor, I saw our state move beyond hate and violence, and lift up everyone in peace.

And as Ambassador, I saw that America is still the standard.

Where we lead, the world follows. When we speak, the world listens. Who we are, the world wants to be.

I'll never forget the day, as ambassador, when I stood on the Simon Bolivar bridge between Colombia and Venezuela in South America.

I watched thousands of Venezuelans walk by, holding their babies, in the hot sun for hours, to get the one meal they might have that day. Where they came from, they'd been killing zoo animals for food.

They were fleeing socialism… and yearning for freedom.

When I left the bridge, the families started to gather around me. I didn't understand why they flocked to someone they'd never met.

And then it hit me.

They didn't care who I was. They cared where I was from.

In me, they saw America… and in America, they saw hope.

The time has come to renew that spirit and rally our people.

Our moment is now. Our mission is clear.

Let's save our country and secure our future. And let's move forward, together, toward our destiny – in a strong and proud America!

Thank you! God bless you! And God bless America!

Nikki Haley, Remarks Announcing Candidacy for President in Charleston, South Carolina Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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