Nikki Haley's Run For President Wasn't A Total Flop - She Had A History-Making Achievement

When former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley announced the end of her 2024 presidential campaign in early March 2024, some considered it a loss to her GOP opponent, former President Donald Trump. But in countless ways unrelated to Trump — and arguably more historic — one could argue Haley finished her political race on top. 

Even before her bid for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, Haley was making history in her political career. In 2011, she became South Carolina's first female governor. Six years later, Trump appointed Haley to his cabinet as an ambassador to the United Nations, making her the first Indian American to serve in this role.

While Haley isn't the first woman to run for president, she did mark several significant milestones for women and Indian Americans alike. From becoming the first woman to run against a former president to being the first Indian American to stay in the race until Super Tuesday, Haley hardly backed out of the 2024 presidential race a "loser."

Nikki Haley marked several important milestones for women in politics

Nikki Haley and former President Donald Trump's race to win the most Republican delegates was a highly watched — but ultimately predictable — contest. As Trump won state after state, including Haley's home, South Carolina, it became increasingly clear that Haley would lose the battle for votes. However, she'd end up a winner in terms of women's history. After winning her first primary in Washington D.C. on March 4, 2024, she made GOP history as the first woman ever to win the party's primary in the country's nearly 250-year history.

Even if Haley hadn't won any primary elections, the former South Carolina governor still made history as the first woman on a major party ticket to run against a former president. While women had run against former presidents before, their party tickets were smaller sects like the Equal Rights and Libertarian parties. In an unlikely turn of events, it was fellow female trailblazer (and member of Haley's opposing major party, the Democrats) Hillary Clinton who inspired Nikki Haley to get into politics.

In a 2012 Vogue interview, Haley described watching Clinton speak at a local university in 2003. "She said there will be all of these reasons that people tell you you can't do it," the then-governor recalled. "She said there's only one reason for you to do it, and it's because you know it's the right thing. I walked out of there thinking I've got to do this."

The former governor also made history as a first-generation Indian American

Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley broke down barriers across the gender divide when she became the first Indian American candidate to remain in the presidential race through Super Tuesday. This milestone was fiercely fought over with fellow Republican presidential hopeful and first-generation Indian American Vivek Ramaswamy, with whom Haley had a deep rivalry. Haley would ultimately win this battle when Ramaswamy announced the end of his presidential campaign on January 15, 2024, three weeks before Super Tuesday.

The groundbreaking achievements of Haley's campaign were not lost on the presidential hopeful. As she announced the end of her hard-fought campaign, Haley said: "When I began, I said the campaign was grounded in my love for our country. Just last week, my mother, a first-generation immigrant, got to vote for her daughter for president" (via The New York Times).

Although Haley used to work in former President Donald Trump's cabinet, it's unlikely she'd be selected as his vice president. After turning from a supporter to an opponent, Haley fell out of good graces with the Trump family — even Donald's oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., had harsh words for Haley regarding her potential VP spot. Still, Haley's 2024 presidential bid made history in significant ways, and that's something not even an election loss can take away.