When Nikki became governor, South Carolina faced record unemployment and years of economic decline. Nikki threw herself into bringing jobs to her home state and proving that South Carolina—and America—could be a manufacturing powerhouse. Nikki cut taxes, nixed burdensome government regulations, and made small businesses a state priority. At the end of Governor Haley’s tenure, more South Carolinians were working than at any other time in history, and South Carolina was outperforming the national average. Thanks to her efforts, South Carolina’s economy was nicknamed “the Beast of the Southeast.”
Holding Politicians Accountable
When Nikki was first elected to the state legislature, South Carolina was a transparency mess. Taxpayers couldn’t hold politicians accountable because much of the legislating happened in secret. Nikki was determined to change that. She took on the establishment in both parties by introducing and ultimately signing a bill that put votes on the record. Nikki also championed and signed an ethics reform package that created an ethics commission to investigate legislators for misconduct (instead of legislators investigating themselves) and required politicians to disclose their private income.
Standing Up for the Unborn
Nikki was one of the most pro-life governors in America. In her role as South Carolina’s first female governor, she showed that being pro-life isn’t about politics. It’s about protecting the most basic right there is—a baby’s right to life. She spoke openly about her own struggle to have children and her husband’s adoption. She made the case for her pro-life values as a mom and a wife who is blessed every day to have her husband, daughter, and son in her life. As governor, she signed many important pieces of legislation, including the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act and the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (outlawing abortion at 20 weeks). Nikki also worked to encourage a culture of life that helped pregnant women and new moms get the care they needed. At the UN, Nikki continued to champion life, condemning violent regimes that use forced abortion as a means of population control and punishment.
Cracking Down on Illegal Immigration
Nikki is the proud daughter of legal immigrants who believes we are a country of laws, and laws must be enforced. She aggressively cracked down on illegal immigration and took on Barack Obama and the D.C. liberals when they stood in the way. In 2011, she signed one of the toughest immigration laws in the country, giving law enforcement more power to check whether people are illegal immigrants. When the ACLU and President Obama sued, Nikki fought back. When the Obama administration refused to enforce South Carolina’s E-Verify program, Nikki forced the administration to do its job and make sure businesses could verify an employee’s legal status. Nikki also fought to put South Carolina first against President Obama’s radical immigration agenda. The state sued the Obama administration over an executive order giving millions of illegal immigrants temporary legal status. Nikki testified before Congress demanding the Obama administration keep Guantanamo Bay detainees out of Charleston.
Protecting our Elections
Nikki is a vocal advocate for voter ID and signed a voter ID bill into law early in her first term as governor. The law required South Carolina voters to show a photo ID to vote. When liberals attacked the bill, she offered to drive anyone who didn’t have a photo ID to the DMV. When Barack Obama’s Justice Department sued, trying to block the voter ID law, Nikki fought back, and the court sided with South Carolina.
Expanding Education Freedom
Growing up in rural South Carolina, Nikki knows what a difference a good education can make. As governor, Nikki successfully pushed for education reform that focused on improving education for South Carolina’s poorest students. She also signed a charter school bill that expanded school choice, and signed a bill eliminating the federal government’s Common Core standards. Wanting to do more for kids growing up like she did, Nikki founded the Original Six Foundation, a nonprofit that offers additional educational opportunities to kids in rural South Carolina. Now, 11 years strong, the Original Six Foundation has helped more than 20,000 students.
Standing Up to the Federal Government
The federal government tried to tell South Carolina what to do, and Nikki repeatedly told it to take a hike. Nikki rejected Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion because she knew another unfunded mandate would be disastrous for taxpayers. She also defended South Carolina’s right-to-work laws when Obama’s National Labor Relations Board sued the state. She joined other states in suing Obama’s EPA over heavy-handed regulatory burdens and defended South Carolina’s tough illegal immigration laws from D.C. meddling.
Defending our Second Amendment Rights
Nikki is a strong defender of the Second Amendment and fought to protect gun owners’ rights as governor. In 2012, she signed a bill that repealed many of the state’s outdated anti-gun laws. She signed reciprocity legislation with Georgia, expanded concealed carry rights to bars and restaurants, and backed the Constitutional Carry Act that would have eliminated the state’s permitting and training requirements for gun owners.
As the wife of a combat veteran, protecting our veterans is personal for Nikki. She focused on easing the transition to civilian life and helping veterans find jobs. It started with “Operation Palmetto Employment,” a one-stop online shop for veterans to find resources, search jobs, post their resumes, and access jobs before the general public. Nikki also signed a bill making veterans eligible for in-state tuition immediately and a bill cutting taxes for veterans who receive military retirement.
Leading in a Crisis
South Carolina faced many unexpected crises during Nikki’s time as governor. A white supremacist shooting. A police shooting. A hurricane. Two ice storms. And a 1,000-year flood. Throughout it all, Nikki offered steady leadership and compassion. When a white supremacist killed nine black people at the Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, Nikki brought people together in prayer and averted violence. When a police officer shot an unarmed black man during a routine traffic stop, Nikki turned people’s grief into action, signing the first body camera bill for law enforcement in the country. When natural disasters came to South Carolina, Nikki was proactive with life-saving evacuations, and was a constant and comforting presence throughout the recovery process.
Reforming the United Nations
From her first day as UN ambassador, Nikki worked to clean up the corrupt and politically-biased UN. She negotiated $285 million in cuts from the UN budget and reached agreements to restructure the UN, including rightsizing UN peacekeeping missions to make them more effective and accountable. She put our enemies on notice and started a process to slash U.S. foreign aid to countries that refused to have America’s back.
Nikki has long been a strong defender of Israel. As governor, she signed the first anti-BDS legislation in the country. As UN ambassador, she declared “a new day for Israel at the United Nations” and vowed that “the days of Israel bashing are over.” Nikki urged President Trump to move America’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem even when other members of the administration opposed the move. And when President Trump made the official announcement, she proudly issued the first American veto in six years at the UN Security Council, defending the United States’ sovereign right to put our embassy wherever we choose. Nikki changed the conversation at the UN Security Council’s monthly session on the Middle East from constantly bashing Israel to highlighting real human rights crises in tyrannical countries in the Middle East. Despite opposition from the D.C. establishment, Nikki pushed for America’s withdrawal from the anti-Israel UNESCO and withdrawal of funding from the corrupt UNRWA. She was also a driving force behind the United States’ withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council—an entity she called “a protector of human rights abusers, and a cesspool of political bias.”
Repealing the Iran Deal
Known as the “Iran whisperer,” Nikki played a prominent role in President Trump’s decision to repeal President Obama’s disastrous Iran deal. While others in the administration wanted to keep the Iran deal in place, Nikki made a compelling case for leaving it. She argued that the United States could not ignore all of the regime’s bad behavior, including its continued development of ballistic missiles, its terrorist activities throughout the Middle East, and its refusal to give access to international inspectors. She argued that the Iran nuclear deal made America less safe and praised President Trump’s decertification of it in October 2017.
Advocating for Human Rights
As UN ambassador, Nikki took on the most notorious and evil regimes in the world—from North Korea to Cuba to Venezuela. She took Syria to task for its horrific human rights atrocities and invited survivors of North Korea’s abuse to the UN to give testimony about the regime’s concentration camps, forced abortions, and abductions. Nikki negotiated a groundbreaking arms embargo on South Sudan through the UN Security Council after the council rejected the same effort by the Obama administration in 2016. When Cuba offered up its annual resolution condemning the U.S. embargo on Cuba in 2018, Nikki didn’t just vote against it—she used the opportunity to force UN votes on amendments condemning the communist regime’s human rights abuses. She also led the United States’ withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council, highlighting the council’s terrible record on human rights.
Getting Tough on China
Nikki turned up the heat on China after decades of soft-on-China U.S. policies. Nikki was a strong advocate of withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, arguing that it was a flawed agreement that gave China a free pass and would destroy American jobs. She regularly slams China for committing genocide and was one of the first public officials to call for boycotting the 2022 Beijing Olympics. She also called for bringing manufacturing back to America from China, and argued for strengthening our relationship with Taiwan and other Asian allies.
Sanctioning North Korea
Nikki pushed for a tough stance on North Korea from day one, arguing that American presidents have been kicking the can down the road on the brutal regime for too long. After North Korea fired ballistic missiles in 2017, Nikki pushed for stronger sanctions. This was no easy feat. Through extensive negotiations, Nikki convinced all 15 members of the UN Security Council, including China and Russia, to support the toughest-ever set of sanctions on North Korea. These sanctions cut North Korean exports by 90% and were a massive economic hit to the regime.
Getting Tough on Russia
When it came to denouncing Russia, Nikki did not mince words. Her first speech before the UN Security Council in 2017 criticized Russia for invading Ukraine. She continued to hammer Russia for its military aggression and poison attacks, and demanded that the UN take up the issue instead of protecting Russia. Nikki was one of the administration’s fiercest critics of Russia, declaring that “we should never trust Russia” and Russia is “never going to be our friend.”
Leading in Latin America
With a renewed focus on Latin America, Nikki hammered the region’s communist and socialist dictators. As Venezuela became a humanitarian crisis, Nikki ratcheted up her denunciations of the socialist regime, even joining protesters outside the United Nations on the streets of New York City. She supported strong sanctions on the Venezuelan government and traveled to the Colombia-Venezuela border to highlight the crisis. Nikki also organized the first-ever meeting to condemn the socialist regime in Nicaragua, and frequently spoke out against the Cuban dictatorship.