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Trump wanted to talk to me about being his Secretary of State after 2016 elections: Nikki Haley

During the meeting, Haley revealed that she told the president-elect that she was not the right fit for the job of the top American diplomat, but she was ready to help him in any way he wanted.

Published: 25th October 2020 12:22 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th October 2020 12:22 PM   |  A+A-

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks during the Republican National Convention in Washington (Photo | AP)

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks during the Republican National Convention in Washington (Photo | AP)

By PTI

PHILADELPHIA: Popular Indian-American Republican politician Nikki Haley has revealed that Donald Trump, soon after winning the November 2016 US presidential election, wanted to talk to her about being his Secretary of State.

"I was the Governor of South Carolina, the best job serving the state that raised me. And then I got a phone call (after the 2016 elections," Haley, 48, said during a fireside chat organised by Indian Voices for Trump in Norristown in the battleground state of Pennsylvania on Saturday.

The important phone call, she said, was from Reince Priebus, the then chairman of the Republican National Committee who later went on to become Trump's first White House Chief of Staff.

"And he said Nikki, the president-elect wants to see you and I said, okay about what? He said he wants to talk to you about the Secretary of State.

"I said I can't be Secretary of State, I'm the governor. And he said, he wants to talk to you," she said during the conversation with Dr Merlynn Carson, co-chair of Indian Voices for Trump.

Haley flew to New York to meet Trump.

During the meeting, Haley revealed that she told the president-elect that she was not the right fit for the job of the top American diplomat, but she was ready to help him in any way he wanted.

Days later, she received another call from Priebus, who told her that Trump would call her later with the offer of US Ambassador to the UN, she said.

The president called and asked her if she was going to do the job.

"I said, well, Sir, there have to be some changes. And he said, like what? I said I'm a governor, I don't want to work for anyone else, I would want to work directly with you. So, needs to be a Cabinet position. He said, done, what else?" Haley said.

"I said, I'm a policy girl. And so, I want to be in the room where decisions are made. So, I need to be on the National Security Council. He said, Done, what else?" said Haley, who served as the US Ambassador to the United Nations for a little less than two years.

Haley said she also told Trump that she was not going to be his yes-woman.

"And he said, exactly what I want you to do," she said, adding that the president was true to his words.

Responding to a question, Haley said that there is a "stark contrast when we go into this election" between Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden as she compared the policies of the two on a host of issues.

"It is about free enterprise versus socialism. There's a stark contrast. What we want to make sure of is that we have a strong president who is going to keep us moving," she said.

"This administration is really emphasising the importance of freedoms. And you know, when you've got politics right now, as toxic as it is, and you've got it going more in the presence of all young Americans, what it means to be free.

"All Americans need to be able to achieve anything that you want without anything getting in the way, all young Americans understand that we do live in the best country in the world," she said.

Haley said that China is the US' "absolute number one threat right now".

"It is a huge national security threat. With the trade deal that the President did, not only did he get a better trade deal (but also) he put China on notice with intellectual property, that they can't steal intellectual property, they can't spy on universities, and that we're going to hold them accountable as we go forward," she said.

Haley asserted that the US' relationship with India has never been so good as in the Trump administration.

"India is the largest democracy. It shares our values," she said, adding that the relationship under this administration has grown so well that the two countries are now partnering in defence, trade and other areas.

And with COVID-19 coming through from China, there's more of a knowledge that the United States is bringing in India, along with Australia and Japan, she said.

"So really, the foreign policy of President Trump has been gangbusters over any other president that we've had in decades.

And that affects every one of us from a national security perspective,” Haley said.

Responding to another question from Dr Carson, Haley said that there "was never a dull moment” working with President Trump.

"There was never a time he wasn't respectful. There was never a time he didn't listen. There was never a time when he didn't really give and take," she said noting that this is what a lot of people don't see about the president.

"I mean, I think the funny thing about the President was and I think what all of you should know is what you see is what he is," she said.

Born as Nimrata Randhawa in South Carolina, Haley is the daughter of Indian immigrants from Punjab.

Her parents Ajit Singh Randhawa and Raj Kaur Randhawa emigrated from Amritsar in Punjab, India.



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