Washington, January 20: Former US president Donald Trump has thrown cold water on the idea of picking Indian-American presidential candidate Nikki Haley as a running mate, saying that she was not of that calibre, hours after she herself nixed the possibility. “She is OK, but she is not presidential timber. And when I say that, that probably means she is not going to be chosen as the vice president,” Trump, who is the dominant front-runner for the Republican nomination, said at a rally in Concord on Friday.
“When you say certain things, it sort of takes them out of play, right? I can't say, ‘She's not of the timber to be the vice president' and then say, ‘Ladies and gentleman, I'm proud to announce that I've picked',” The Hill quoted Trump as saying about the former United Nations ambassador. Haley, who is Trump's closest rival in the polls in New Hampshire, has repeatedly said she is not running for second place in the Republican primary — but had previously declined to specifically comment on whether she would be the former president's running mate. GOP Presidential Debate: Next Republican Debate Cancelled After Nikki Haley Refuses To Take Stage Without Donald Trump
Earlier on Friday, Haley, 51, appeared to more definitively nix the idea, telling a group of voters that being vice president was “off the table”. Haley's momentum in the Republican race, where her poll numbers steadily climbed in recent months, has fuelled speculation that she could be a contender as Trump's No. 2. Some Republicans like former Speaker Kevin McCarthy had suggested Haley would be a good pick to balance out the former president's weaknesses as a candidate.
Some in Trump's orbit, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), his son Donald Trump Jr. and former adviser Steve Bannon said choosing Haley as a running mate would lead to a revolt among his most ardent supporters. However, sources close to Trump downplayed the idea that he was ever seriously considering the Indian-American candidate. Trump, 77, has in recent weeks levied personal attacks against his former cabinet member, including sharing a false "birther" conspiracy. US Presidential Elections 2024: Key Dates and Events, What Lies Ahead
Born Nimrata Nikki Randhawa to immigrant Punjabi Sikh parents in Bamberg, she is the two-term Governor of South Carolina. Trump is still leading Haley by just over 10 per cent, according to the most recent polling average from The Hill.