Share

Nikki Haley, the former US ambassador to the UN, on Monday night said she is the proud daughter of Indian immigrants while seeking to address the issue of racism as she spoke at the Republican convention to nominate President Donald Trump for a second term.

“They came to America and settled in a small southern town. My father wore a turban. My mother wore a sari. I was a brown girl in a black and white world,” said Haley, one of the most anticipated speakers of the opening night of the convention. She added they faced discrimination and hardship. “But my parents never gave in to grievance and hate. My mom built a successful business. My dad taught 30 years at a historically black college. And the people of South Carolina chose me as their first minority and first female governor.”

Haley, who was born Nimrata Nikki Randhawa, has been the first and only Indian American woman governor of a US state yet of any party. She also went to hold the highest federal government office by an Indian-American as Trump’s US ambassador to the UN, a federal cabinet-rank position.

Haley is widely expected to run for president someday. Many thought she was looking at a 2020 run when she left her UN job in 2019.

There has been speculation though that Trump could name her his vice-presidential nominee, replacing Mike Pence, the incumbent.

Haley is not on the ticket yet. But for most Indian-American Republicans, she may be as their answer to Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee. Harris is the daughter of a mother from India and a father from Jamaica. Harris’s nomination as vice-president made headlines around the world. She is the first Indian-American and Black woman on a presidential ticket yet.

Haley and Harris are crucial to their respective party’s evolving strategies for the elections on November 3. With 1.2 million voters, Indian-Americans have emerged as a key constituency for both parties, especially in battleground states, also called swing states, that could settle the race with wafer-thin margins.

“Nikki Haley is a very powerful voice with a great appeal,” said Al Mason, who leads the Trump campaign’s outreach to the Indian-American community. “As she is of Indian Heritage; Indian Americans love her. She could be a big influence on the Indian-Americans, eDspecially in the battle the ground states.”

“Nikki Haley told the story of America, and it is her personal story too and similar to the most immigrant who come to this great nation,” said Puneet Ahluwalia, a Republican exploring a run for Lt Governor of Virginia, a swing state with growing Asian-American population.

A proud successful governor of South Carolina, she highlighted the successes of President Trump and policies of the Republican Party.”

Haley remains close to the Trump family, especially Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. And she was given a speaking slot just ahead of Don Trump Jr, the president’s eldest son, who spoke on the first night of the convention, which was a mix of in-person and virtually delivered speeches by leading lawmakers and supposedly ordinary Americans with undeclared political agenda.