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After Contentious Campaign Season, Trump Picks Haley for UN Ambassador

Gov. Nikki Haley campaigns for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in Greenville, S.C., on Feb. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Sanz)

President-elect Donald Trump said today that he’s going to nominate the governor who took shots at his campaign tone in the Republicans’ State of the Union response as the next ambassador to the United Nations.

Trump said in a statement that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley “has a proven track record of bringing people together regardless of background or party affiliation to move critical policies forward for the betterment of her state and our country.”

“She is also a proven dealmaker, and we look to be making plenty of deals,” he added. “She will be a great leader representing us on the world stage.”

In a statement released by Trump’s transition office, which highlighted that she’s the daughter of Indian immigrants, Haley said, “Our country faces enormous challenges here at home and internationally, and I am honored that the President-elect has asked me to join his team and serve the country we love as the next Ambassador to the United Nations.”

Haley endorsed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) during the GOP primaries, noting at February rally with Rubio, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), “Take a picture of this, because this new group of conservatives taking over America looks like a Benetton commercial.”

In the official GOP response to President Obama’s January State of the Union address, Haley cautioned against fear driving people to follow the “angriest voices,” acknowledging after the address that Trump “was one of” the people to whom she was referring.

“Today, we live in a time of threats like few others in recent memory. During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation,” she said. “No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country. At the same time, that does not mean we just flat out open our borders. We can’t do that.” 

Haley told NBC the next day that “Mr. Trump has definitely contributed to what I think is just irresponsible talk.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest noted Haley’s “willingness to stand up for some important principles was noted and it took courage, and for that she deserves credit.”

The day after the State of the Union speech on Fox, Trump called Haley “weak on illegal immigration, and she certainly has no trouble asking me for campaign contributions, ‘cause over the years she’s asked me for a hell of a lot of money in campaign contributions. So, you know, it’s sort of interesting to hear.”

Asked at the time if he would consider Haley for vice president, he replied, “I wouldn’t say she’s off to a good start based on what she has just said.”

In March, Trump tweeted: “The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley!”

Haley responded, “@realDonaldTrump, Bless your heart.”

Shortly before Election Day, Haley said she would vote for Trump despite being “not a fan” of the GOP nominee.

“I think I’ve been really clear. This election has turned my stomach upside down,” she said at an Oct. 26 news conference. “It has been embarrassing for both parties. It’s not something that the country deserves, but it’s what we’ve got.”

“Having said that, what I will tell you is that this is no longer a choice for me on personalities because I’m not a fan of either one,” she added, referring to Trump and Hillary Clinton. “What it is about is policy.”

Rubio congratulated his former campaign-trail champion in a statement, saying he’s “impressed” with Haley’s leadership of her home state and that he welcomes the nomination.

“I have led efforts in the Senate to reform the U.N. and ensure that U.S. support is conditioned on a cessation of anti-Israel rhetoric and U.N. organizations no longer funding terrorist entities,” Rubio said. “I look forward to working with Governor Haley on these and other issues once she assumes her new role.‎”

Scott, who was first appointed to the Senate vacated by former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and then won his seat, said Haley “is a tremendous leader, and South Carolina is grateful for her service.”

“I have no doubt she will serve America well through defending and sharing our values and strengthening our relationships with Israel and other allies,” Scott said. “I look forward to her confirmation process.”