(Reuters) – U.S. Republican presidential contender Nikki Haley, the lone remaining challenger to frontrunner Donald Trump, has vowed to continue her White House campaign despite failing to score any victories in the first two nominating contests.
The former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador, who came third in Iowa and second in New Hampshire, faces her next major test against Trump when her home state holds its primary on Feb. 24.
Here are some facts about Haley’s life and political career:
DAUGHTER OF IMMIGRANTS
Haley, 52, gained a reputation in the Republican Party as a solid conservative who has the ability to address issues of gender and race in a more credible fashion than many of her peers. At the same time, she has drawn criticism for her ambiguous positions on some major policy issues.
She is the daughter of two immigrants from India who ran a clothing store in rural South Carolina, and has spoken occasionally about the discrimination her family faced.
Haley graduated from Clemson University in 1994 with a degree in accounting, and helped expand her parents’ clothing business. She took on leadership roles in several business organizations before winning a seat in the South Carolina state legislature in 2004. She is married and has two children.
SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR
Elected South Carolina’s governor in 2010, Haley became the first woman to hold that post in the Deep South state and the second person of Indian descent to serve as a state governor in the United States.
She received national attention in 2015 when she signed a bill into law removing the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol following the murder of nine black churchgoers by white supremacist Dylann Roof. But she later drew criticism from some elected officials for describing the flag as a symbol of heritage for some Southerners.
Haley also appointed Tim Scott, then a U.S. representative from South Carolina, to the U.S. Senate in 2012. Scott was a rival for the presidential nomination, but he dropped out of the primary race in early November after struggling to gain traction in opinion polls and endorsed Trump.
UNITED NATIONS AMBASSADOR
Haley endorsed several rivals to Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential nominating contest, and occasionally tangled with him during the primaries.
But she then went on to serve for two years as his ambassador to the United Nations. During that time, the U.S. pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, an accord that was unpopular with Republicans.
2024 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
Haley was among the first candidates to enter the race, announcing her challenge to Trump last February after earlier saying she would not run against him.
While she enjoyed a brief bump in opinion polls, she subsequently languished in the mid- to lower single digits in most national and state-level surveys, until the first debate gave her a measurable boost starting in late August. She still has just a fraction of the support for Trump.
In late November, she received a major boost when the conservative political network led by billionaire Charles Koch endorsed her bid.
She has tried to distinguish herself as the most capable contender on foreign policy. While almost all Republican candidates have staked out a tough position on China, Haley’s unabashed support for Ukraine represents a contrast with Trump, who says the conflict is not central to U.S. national security.
At year’s end she drew rebukes from Democrats and some of her rivals when, in answer to a question, she declined to say that slavery was one of the main causes of the U.S. Civil War, an omission she sought to correct a day later.
RELATIONSHIP WITH TRUMP
Trump is furious that she is refusing to leave the race after losing to him in New Hampshire and Iowa, and is likely to increase pressure on her to quit before South Carolina’s primary so he can focus on Democratic incumbent Joe Biden.
After months of carefully calibrating her criticism of Trump and resisting growing pressure from allies to go after him harder, she has begun questioning his mental acuity and his age – he is 77 – and accused him of throwing temper tantrums.
For his part, Trump has insulted her intelligence, calling her “birdbrain” and mocking her Indian heritage, and has said he would not consider her for vice president. She has said she would not want to be his running mate.
Still, she has said she would pardon Trump if he were convicted. He currently faces four criminal cases, including over efforts to overturn the 2020 election and his handing of national security documents.
(Reporting by Gram Slattery; editing by Ross Colvin and Jonathan Oatis)