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State of American History, Civics, and Politics

Why Would Nikki Haley Want the Nomination? Which Nomination Anyway?

And the Nominee Is... (Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

Note: I decided last week to write this blog this week. In so doing I gambled that there would be more of the same in the news but nothing drastic like the revelation of the Russian bounty on American soldiers and no American response. You never really know what to expect except that it will be something you never imagined.

As the days wind down to the Convention, once again the name of Nikki Haley is bandied about for a national nomination. That attention has followed her since July, 2015:

Haley’s decisive action to drive the final removal of the banner from statehouse grounds quickly and relatively cleanly in the glare of the national spotlight proved a well-timed audition for higher office ahead of the 2016 Republican veepstakes. Nikki Haley’s star rises as rebel flag comes down

Now here we are nearly five years later and her name is mentioned once again. But for which position on the national ticket? Haley is an ambitious adult who lives in the real world. Why would she want a position on the national ticket in 2020 anyway?

Let’s consider three scenarios.

PENCE IS DUMPED

The most common position discussed is the vice-presidential nomination as a replacement for the incumbent Vice President. For this to occur, there are several decisions which need to be made.

First is that the reelection prospects are so dire that a Hail Mary is needed. This means that the person who thinks of himself as a winner who never loses has to admit to himself that as things stand he is a loser. Remember, in his mind, he won the popular vote in 2016, too. It is in that mind that the decision will be made. Can he admit for the record that he is headed for a defeat and needs the help of someone else to rescue him?

As of now, it would seem that he is not at the point. His first reaction upon learning of a poll showing Biden with a 14% lead was to sue. By now with virtually every poll showing Biden with a 50% or more support and/or a double-digit lead, he would have to sue almost all the pollsters in America including Fox. That doesn’t appear to have happened.

He knows the polls are against him now.

He knows there was no overflow attendance and a blue sea of empty seats inside at his rally in Tulsa.

He knows that Bolton’s book portrays him as begging for it from the Chinese.

He knows that the newest scandal shows him approving of Putin putting a target on the backs of American soldiers. MORE FAKE NEWS.

There is still is no sign that he has reached a point where he will admit he is a loser and ready to throw the Hail Mary. That could change at any moment.

Second, what are the ramifications of dumping his loyal Vice President? Mike Pence has sold his soul to be the successor, not the dumped one. While there is insufficient time to write a book between the time dumped and the election, there certainly is plenty of opportunity for him to go “Bolton” and do the talk shows. True after all his “happy talk” about the coronavirus, he has limited credibility. Anything he said could be considered sour grapes because he was dumped. Is dumping him a risk worth taking?

Third, even if the decision is made to dump the loyal Vice President and take your chances on what he might say, the question still remains why would Haley take the position? She would know it is being offered to her only as an act of desperation. Who knows what else will be revealed in the weeks and months to come. After all, who anticipated his latest example of submissiveness to Putin? To expect her to accept the Vice Presidency is like asking her to charter a plane to fly over the Atlantic Ocean so she can parachute onto the Titanic AFTER it hit the iceberg. For an ambitious person living in the real world joining the ticket as a replacement easily could be an act of political suicide.

Based on the above, my impression, for whatever it is worth, of Haley being the Vice President nominee has more to do with writers having too much spare time to spin scenarios than a likely event.

THE LBJ PRESIDENT

What about the position of President? Would Haley accept that nomination? Lately there has been talk [Morning Joe] about a supposed candidate with no vision or agenda for the second term, who seems to be going through the motions of running. Could he just to an LBJ and announce that he is not a candidate for the 2020 election?

For this scenario to happen, the same considerations as noted above would have to occur with one addition. The addition would be the realization that even the Hail Mary with Nikki Haley wouldn’t work. When the 2020 year began, there was a reasonable expectation of reelection. Sure the Democratic Party would win the popular vote as it always does with one exception during the era of Baby-boomer Presidents. But it was still possible to win the Electoral College despite being a popular-vote loser. Lately those prospects have changed. Instead of fighting over battle ground states, the newest trend is that the battle ground states could be swept by Biden. Then the fight will be over possible purple states like Texas. Given the rapid increase of coronavirus cases in Texas (along with Arizona and Florida), the election could be shaping up to be comparable to Obama in 2008 or Bush in 1988. Those results would have been considered impossible at the beginning of this year but now seem quite reasonable. And this is before the polls digest the latest scandal with Putin. It now has reached a point where even Trumpican Senators are getting nervous about the fate of the Republican Party.

The longtime pretend Democrat and Clinton supporter couldn’t care less about the fate of the Republican Party. It’s all about him. It always is. He could decide that he wants to go out as a winner with the greatest three years of any American President ever. Why risk defeat yet alone a humiliating defeat in November? He would have no problem leaving the Party in the lurch at the last minute and walking away.

But there would be consequences to such actions. The Trumpican Senate which prevented him from being removed from office would no longer protect him. I am not saying he would be impeached and convicted in his last few months. But all protections would be lost if he announced he wasn’t running again. He would be at risk for investigations by people out for blood.

And who would be the nominee then? Anyone with the Trump taint would be doomed in November. If the party wanted to save itself, prepare for 2024, and hope for the best, it would need a presidential candidate who could insult, mock, and demean Putin’s Pence as the Democrats will. Even then the likelihood of success would be minimal. So if the LBJ withdrawal occurs, why would Haley even try to pick up the pieces to salvage the election? In some vain hope that she will be remembered for her sacrifice and be nominated again? In 2024, it will have been76 years since Stevenson was nominated in consecutive campaigns and lost both. Even if the Party is abandoned at the last minute in July or August, I don’t see how it is in Haley’s interest to fill the void.

THE NIXON PRESIDENT

The Howard Baker moment has passed. Suppose the current Russian scandal proves the worst nightmares about an American President selling out his country [and for what in return?]. It is hard to imagine given the time constraints the Trumpican Senators supporting any drastic action against him. And leaving office early means loss of immunity at both the New York State and federal level.  Even Barr might grow concerned if the LBJ or Nixon precedents were followed. In fact, he may grow concerned anyway.

In conclusion, as of 6:45 PM June 29, 2020, when this blog was posted to the IHARE website, I do not expect to see Nikki Haley as a candidate for Vice President or President in 2020 with the caveat that at any given moment anything could happen which would cause me to change my mind.

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