South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley delivers the State of the State in the House chambers at the South Carolina Statehouse, Jan. 20, 2016, in Columbia, S.C.
Photo by Sean Rayford/AP

Why Trump tapped Haley for Ambassador to U.N.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) hasn’t always held Donald Trump in the highest regard. Back in January, when the governor delivered her party’s response to the State of the Union address, Haley took a not-so-subtle shot at the then-frontrunner for the GOP’s presidential nomination – much to the consternation of the Republican base.

A month later, Haley called Trump “everything a governor doesn’t want in a president.” Soon after, Trump returned fire, declaring in a tweet, “The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley!”

As recently as late October, the South Carolina governor was reluctant to even say Trump’s name out loud, conceding she’s “not a fan” of her party’s presidential nominee. Haley said she’d vote for the GOP ticket, but “that doesn’t mean it’s an easy vote.”

And yet, here we are.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has accepted Donald Trump’s offer to be his ambassador to the United Nations, a source familiar with the president-elect’s transition process confirmed to NBC News on Wednesday. […]

The daughter of immigrants from India, Haley served three terms in South Carolina’s State House before winning the governorship in 2010 and again in 2014.
That’s not a bad resume for someone in public service, but Haley’s background in foreign policy doesn’t exist. If confirmed, Haley would head to the United Nations as a diplomat, despite having no experience in diplomacy, working on international affairs she’s currently unfamiliar with.

Which naturally raises the question of why in the world Trump would extend such an offer.

The usual answer, as we discussed earlier in the case of Ben Carson, is the president-elect’s emphasis on personal loyalty, but that clearly doesn’t apply here. By all appearances, Haley doesn’t like or respect Trump.

So what’s the story here? One thing to keep in mind is that Trump’s team is made up almost entirely of middle-aged white guys, which increases the pressure to prioritize diversity at least a little. Haley will help in this regard.

But just below the surface, there’s another consideration: if Haley is confirmed and gives up her current post, she’ll be succeeded by South Carolina Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster (R).

And who’s McMaster? He’s the Republican who jumped on board the Trump Train early on, when most GOP officials were still keeping their distance, giving Trump a key boost in one of the nation’s early primary states.

In other words, by sending Haley to the U.N., Trump is also doing a huge favor for someone he’s eager to reward. McMaster will now be able to run for governor in 2018 as an incumbent.

Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, South Carolina and United Nations

Why Trump tapped Haley for Ambassador to U.N.