US presidential race 2024: Nikki Haley’s middle path on divisive issues gains Indian-American support in presidential race – Times of India

WASHINGTON: Nikki Haley, the ex-Governor of South Carolina who also served as the US Ambassador to the United Nations, is seen as someone who brings a sense of calm in hotly debated issues concerning national politics that are dividing the country.
Her friends and donors, many of whom are Indian-Americans, believe that she is the only Republican presidential candidate who can get support from some Democrats without giving up her Republican values.
At 51 years, Haley stands out as the sole female Republican contender for the upcoming 2024 primary debate, scheduled for August 23 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The debate is special as it’s the first time ever that two Indian-Americans, Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy, will be part of a primary presidential debate. The debate will be shown on Fox News.
Other Republican candidates for President who are also taking part in the debate are Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former vice president Mike Pence, South Carolina senator Tim Scott, former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
On Monday, former US president Donald Trump announced that he won’t be part of the debate. Based on national polls tracked by Real Clear Politics, Nikki Haley is currently ranked fifth with an average of 3.3% support. As expected, Trump is leading with 55.5%, followed by DeSantis with 10%, Ramaswamy with 10%, and Pence with 5.2%.
Leading up to the GOP presidential debate, Haley’s Indian-American supporters and friends have been saying in interviews that she brings a sense of calm to the strongly divided country.
They also mentioned that she’s the only candidate who has been able to gain significant support from Democrats without giving up her Republican values.
“We are ready. This is not the first time she’s run a race. All of us were there with her when she ran for Governor (of South Carolina). Everything once again comes back full circle. 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,” her old-time friend from South Carolina Bhavna Vasudeva, a successful real estate agent, told PTI in an interview.
“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,” Vasudeva said in response to a question asserting that the former South Carolina Governor is “charismatic” and “empathetic.”
Vasudeva, who has been part of many events to raise funds for Haley, mentioned that Haley is gaining a lot of attention and support from Indian-Americans all over the country.
Jiten Agarwal, who is based in Houston and is the CEO of QuantAi, and a significant supporter of Haley’s fundraising efforts, confidently stated that her campaign is progressing very well.
“Nikki Haley has been very consistent since February when she launched her presidential bid,” he said. Agarwal, who has organized several fundraising events for her, said that he has received good support for her candidacy.
However, some voters want to wait and see who the other candidates in the primary are before making a decision.
“She 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 in my opinion. 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 will 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 anything which has gone wrong when she has been the governor or the US Ambassador,” he said.
“All the right things for the US as well as in reference to India, as I talked about Pakistan. So that’s the reason we are like her. In addition to that, she’s a personal friend. So irrespective of anything, I’m going to support her,” he 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. Though, I’m not going to demonise this issue that resonates so well with the suburban women,” said Arun Agarwal, CEO of Nexxt and a major Indian-American donor from Texas.
“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. And she will not only get the Republican vote, but she will get… there is research which shows that close to 55%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,” he told PTI.
Responding to a question, Aggarwal mentioned that Haley is getting more support from Indian-Americans compared to Vivek Ramaswamy.
“He seems like he has amazing success in his business life. I think Nikki Haley is attracting more Indian-Americans. Whereas I think Vivek is speaking more of Trump’s language in a different way. Whereas everyone agrees Trump’s policies were fantastic, how they were delivered was wrong. Nikki is not disagreeing with Trump’s policies. And Vivek has never really talked about his heritage I really don’t know if it’s a divide in Indian Americans or not,” Agarwal said.
“If there is a poll among only Indian-Americans, Nikki wins hand down (against Vivek),” he said.
Mandeep Singh, an entrepreneur and real estate developer, who has been a family friend of Nikki Haley for a considerable period, said the former UN ambassador’s campaign is progressing positively.
“She’s operating efficiently from a burn rate perspective. Gulling out to the early states, kind of very much a boots-on-the-ground type of campaign. Unlike a lot of other candidates who do interviews on national television and larger rally-type formats, Nikki is really engaging one-on-one with individuals. In the short term it doesn’t always translate to polls but I think as the election gets closer, that kind of built-up equity between the candidate and the individual person I think goes a long way,” he said.
“She appeals to a wide range of people. I told her when I had a function at my home for her: the folks on the far right, the folks in the far left, they’re just kind of so far apart and so extreme in their thought process that I think a lot of people in the middle, like myself, I say I’m a moderate, not Republican necessarily, not Democrat necessarily. There’s a lot of people out there that I think she appeals to, and I’m one of those types of individuals,” Singh told PTI.
Privy to some of her fundraising conversations, Singh said she’s doing really well across the country, which is great that she is able to build up a lip bit of a war chest that she can go out and really reach people on a mass scale like TV ads and those sorts of things, which she hasn’t done yet, but she’s beginning to do so.

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