Nikki Haley may have timed her exit perfectly

Nikki Haley is getting out of the Trump administration with her stature elevated and political prospects brightened — not something that could be said for most top political power players who leave the President’s reputation-crushing fold.

Outshining the showman in chief in her Oval Office goodbye Tuesday, the outgoing US ambassador to the UN pocketed a valuable endorsement for a political career no one thinks is over.
The President, in comments that might one day find new life as a campaign ad, said Haley “has been very special to me. She’s done an incredible job. She’s a fantastic person, very importantly — but she also is somebody that gets it.”
As she sat smiling beside the President, their unusual photo op, and the generosity of a President whose good mood may owe much to his current political roll, suggested Haley has the essential ingredient of high-flying political careers — timing.
The coming days might shed more light on Haley’s decision to quit. She could cash in on her chance to make some serious money. And as odd as it might seem for a top politician, her stated reason — that she just wants a rest from public service after years as South Carolina’s governor before her UN service — could actually be true.
Haley’s sudden announcement left everyone in Washington asking, why now?
But a more relevant question, politically at least, is why not now?
It’s widely assumed in Washington that Haley has a presidential run in her future — indeed, she felt it necessary to inform Trump in front of the White House press corps that she wasn’t gunning for him in 2020.
With the future in mind, it makes sense to bank political gains she has accrued in nearly two years at Turtle Bay in New York.
During that time, she has managed to avoid antagonizing the President while raising her own profile — an astute balancing act that in the jungle of the Trump administration might have been hard to sustain for much longer.
She went before her relationship with the President visibly decayed — the comparisons between her departure and the ugly exits of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former national security adviser H.R. McMaster were notable. Other former Trump confidants, such as former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or former political guru Steve Bannon, were also given the cold shoulder.
And she’s still popular — an April Quinnipiac University poll put her approval rating at 63% — a good 20 points higher than Trump’s, which makes her double game at the United Nations even more impressive.

 

 

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