CHARLESTON, S.C. — Nikki Haley’s husband deployed Saturday for a yearlong stint in Africa with the South Carolina Army National Guard, a mission that will encompass most of the remainder of her campaign for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
“He’s always been my rock,” she said after a deployment ceremony for about 200 soldiers at The Citadel, a military college in Charleston. “We have both lived a life of service, and so when he goes off to deploy, my support is completely with him. If I happen to be running for president, his support is completely with me. ... We will continue to stay in touch as best we can.”
Maj. Michael Haley is being deployed as a staff officer with the 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, which the National Guard says is providing support in the Horn of Africa.
The United Nations, where Nikki Haley served as Donald Trump’s ambassador for two years, says that region is facing the worst drought in 40 years, with more than 43.3 million people in need of assistance in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, and more than half of those lacking access to sufficient food.
Last month, a high-level U.N. conference raised less than $1 billion of the more than $5 billion organizers were hoping for to help more than 30 million people in the Horn of Africa cope with the climate crisis and mass displacement after years of conflict.
Nikki Haley, who is also a former South Carolina governor, has been highly critical of President Joe Biden’s performance as commander in chief. She has spoken out against his administration’s efforts to expand diversity in the military, complaining they were weakening the force and hampering recruitment, though the Army has said that the real problem is that many young people do not see enlistment as safe or a good career path.
She has also pledged to make cuts in $46 billion in foreign aid to countries that she says “hate America.”
Michael Haley, the candidate’s husband of 26 years, has been a constant at his wife’s campaign events since she became a White House candidate. During his deployment, the campaign said the couple’s college-age son, Nalin, will be taking over that role.
Nikki Haley frequently mentions her status as a military wife. Joining the Guard as an officer in 2006, her husband made his first overseas deployment January 2013, when she was midway through her first term as governor, and their children were age 10 and 14.
“He left me as a single mom governor, but we’re still married,” Haley said during a recent campaign appearance in Greer, South Carolina. She went on to critique the Biden administration’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.
Citing the current deployment during a CNN town hall in Iowa this month, Haley called it the start of “a yearlong prayer that they’re effective and that they’re strong and that they come home safely.”
She has also referenced her husband’s upcoming deployment in terms of the U.S. Department of Justice’s case against 2024 rival Trump on charges of mishandling classified documents, including national defense information.
Arguing that “two things can be be true a the same time” and echoing many Republicans’ arguments that “the DOJ and FBI have lost all credibility with the American people,” Haley said on Fox News this past week that “if this indictment is true, if what it says is actually the case, President Trump was incredibly reckless with our national security.”
“My husband is about to deploy this weekend,” Haley went on. “This puts all of our military men and women in danger, if you are going to talk about what our military is capable of, or how we would go about invading or doing something with one of our enemies.”
On Saturday, Haley said her husband’s service has in part framed her viewpoint on foreign policy and military strategy.
“We don’t want to go into a way that’s going to put our men and women at harm’s danger. They are going because Africa is a hotbed,” Haley said. “We’ve always known that when our men and women go overseas, it’s to keep us safe here at home.”