Toying with a presidential run, Nikki Haley on Thursday denied claims that she eagerly fought to replace Mike Pence as Donald Trump's vice president even as she served as ambassador to the United Nations. The former South Carolina governor calls the claims "lies and gossip to sell a book," per Politico. They come from Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love, a book from Trump's secretary of state Mike Pompeo, to be published next week. In quotes published by the Guardian, Pompeo writes that Haley plotted with senior advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump to become Trump's vice president before resigning as UN ambassador in October 2018.
According to Pompeo, Haley secured an Oval Office meeting with Trump without checking with him, then showed up with Kushner and Ivanka. The meeting left Trump chief of staff John Kelly with the impression that "they were presenting a possible 'Haley for vice-president' option," Pompeo writes. "I can't confirm this, but [Kelly] was certain he had been played, and he was not happy about it," he continues, per the Guardian. The book, which also claims Trump proposed the "nutty idea" that Pompeo serve as secretary of state and secretary of defense at the same time, is "peppered with broadsides at potential rivals in the 2024 Republican presidential primary," the Guardian reports.
But the claims about Haley lend weight to reports from the time suggesting swap Pence with his UN ambassador for the 2020 ticket. "I don't know why he said it, but that's exactly why I stayed out of DC as much as possible, to get away from the drama," Haley told Fox News in response to the excerpt, per Politico. She said she never discussed the VP role with anyone in the administration. At the same time, she made no attempt to hide her presidential ambitions. "I think we need a young generation to come in, step up and really start fixing things," said the 51-year-old. "I think I can be that leader," she continued, per the New York Post. "I’ve never lost a race. … I'm not going to lose now. But stay tuned." (Read more Nikki Haley stories.)