US & Canada

Nikki Haley: The former Trump critic considered for cabinet

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley speaks in Washington, DC. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Governor Haley was critical of Mr Trump during his presidential campaign

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has been picked by President-elect Donald Trump to be US envoy to the United Nations.

Mrs Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, was a vocal critic of the property mogul on the campaign trail.

The 44-year-old governor later voted for Mr Trump, lamenting that she was "not a fan" of either candidate.

But she appears to have mended relations with the president-elect, whom she is meeting in New York.

Nikki Haley, the Republican who took on Trump

Rising star

Born Nimrata "Nikki" Randhawa, Mrs Haley is the first minority and female governor of South Carolina, a deeply conservative state with a long history of racial strife.

As the youngest governor in the US and only the second Indian-American to serve at the helm of a US state, she has been touted as a rising star within the Republican Party.

She took a public stand against resettling Syrian refugees in South Carolina and also opposed President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law.

Last week, Mrs Haley was elected vice-chair of the Republican Governors Association, paving the way to become chairman of the group in 2018.

The Indian-American, who is in her second and final term as governor, was elected in 2010, riding the wave of the Republican Tea Party with the support of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

Her re-election win in 2014 also marked the largest margin of victory for a South Carolina gubernatorial candidate in 24 years.

Before becoming the Palmetto state's chief executive, she served six years as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives.

An accountant and businesswoman, Mrs Haley was raised in a Sikh household but converted to Christianity and attends a Methodist church.

She is married to Army National Guard Captain Michael Haley and has two children.

Taking a stand

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mrs Haley calls for the state removal of the Confederate flag following the Emanuel AME Church shooting

Mrs Haley attracted national attention last year when she asked the state legislature to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Capitol following a racially charged massacre that left nine people dead at a Charleston church.

Charleston shootings: Power of forgiveness in African-American church

Charleston church victims remembered

The state has long wrestled with its connection to the divisive flag, which is considered by many as a totem of racism, but defended by others as an important historical symbol.

"Today, we are here in a moment of unity in our state, without ill will, to say it is time to move the flag from the Capitol grounds," said Mrs Haley at a news conference.

"One-hundred and fifty years after the end of the Civil War, the time has come."

Though she had previously supported preserving the flag's symbolism of Southern Heritage, the governor signed a bill requiring its removal and the flag was taken down in July 2015.

Trump U-turn

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mrs Haley endorsed Senator Rubio and then Senator Cruz before she finally backed Mr Trump

Mrs Haley endorsed Florida Senator Marco Rubio during the Republican primary election, and later after he dropped out, threw her support behind Senator Ted Cruz - Mr Trump's final rival before he became the party's nominee.

The governor also admonished Mr Trump to release his taxes and criticised his harsh campaign rhetoric throughout the primary election.

In January she was praised by Republicans for her rebuttal to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, in which made pointed remarks which appeared to criticise Mr Trump.

The governor said: "During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation".

Mrs Haley also confronted the then-frontrunner's call to temporarily ban Muslims from the country, adding: "No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country".

Mr Trump lashed out by calling the governor "very weak on immigration" and tweeting she was embarrassment to the state.

She responded in a tweet: "Bless your heart", which is often viewed as condescending dismissal in the South.

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