Speculation swirls on replacement for UN ambassador Nikki Haley following surprise resignation

October 10, 2018

Speculation swirls on replacement for UN ambassador Nikki Haley following surprise resignation a katz / Shutterstock.com

Nikki Haley’s shocking resignation has pundits and TV hosts speculating about who will replace the soon-to-be former United States ambassador to the United Nations.

Among the names floated on Fox’s The Story on Tuesday were current U.S. Ambassador to Germany Ric Grenell and former New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

But who will replace Haley is as much of a mystery as why she left. President Donald Trump said he has a list of five possible candidates for the job, but he has named just one of them: former deputy national security adviser Dina Powell, a Goldman Sachs executive who previously served for almost a year in the Trump administration working to develop America’s relationships with Middle Eastern nations.

Fox hosts discuss Haley replacement

Speaking with Martha McCallum, The Federalist editor Mollie Hemingway said that Grenell would be a good fit for implementing Trump’s foreign policy vision. Grenell, a Trump loyalist who used to work in the George W. Bush White House, was confirmed to his current role in May after a contentious confirmation process during which President Trump accused the Democrats of stalling.

Whoever Trump picks would need to be confirmed by the Senate, so a hard-liner would likely have a more difficult time getting the job than a candidate with a more bipartisan appeal, and Grenell has pushed hard on European companies with ties to Iran to isolate the regime. President Trump said that Grenell is not on the short-list but he is considering him for the job.

“He is doing so well in a position that is so important,” Trump said. “Rick is doing so well that I wouldn’t want to move him. I’d personally rather keep Rick where he is.”

The panel also mentioned another candidate with the ability to bring Haley-like toughness to the role: White House speechwriter Marc Thiessen pointed to Ayotte, a former member of the Armed Services Committee who shepherded Neil Gorsuch through to the Supreme Court. Ivanka Trump was also mentioned as a possible replacement.

Trump teased to reporters that his daughter would be “dynamite” but later said that he wouldn’t pick her to avoid accusations of nepotism. Ivanka put the rumors to rest herself with a tweet on Tuesday.

Shock resignation

Plenty of speculation about Haley’s political future bubbled up in the wake of her sudden resignation announcement Tuesday. Speaking at the White House beside President Trump, Haley said that she has no plans to challenge Trump in 2020, but much remains shrouded in mystery.

Haley has sought to downplay rumors of any supposed political ambitions, mentioning a desire to take a break in the private sector. But Haley’s work at the U.N. has done much to raise her national profile, and a Quinnipiac poll found that Haley had the approval of 63 percent of voters, including 55 percent of Democrats.

The ambassador brought a tough approach to her ambassadorial role that sometimes left her standing alone on the world stage, demanding respect for the United States and Israel, cutting U.S. funding to the U.N’s budget, and pulling out of the U.N. Human Rights council, which she called a “cesspool of political bias.” She also adopted more traditional neo-conservative stances, tacking a hard-line path against Iran and Russia and ultimately paving the way for deescalation in North Korea with tough sanctions.

Haley was arguably the most prominent woman in the Trump administration besides his daughter Ivanka, which could make the soon-to-be former ambassador a political asset in a party that has alienated many women voters over the scandal surrounding Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Some have speculated that with this, Haley, who was once governor of South Carolina, will return to her home state to replace Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) should Trump appoint him Attorney General.

There is also speculation that Haley may plan to run for president in 2024 or stand beside Trump as his running mate in 2020.

While Haley’s resignation came as a surprise to many senior officials, the president said that Haley told her six months ago that she would be leaving. He also praised Haley for her work in the ambassadorial role, which she made into a “glamorous” position with her bold approach to foreign policy.

“I think she’s also brought a new level of prestige to that position,” Trump said. “That position is — in terms of people wanting it — easier now in a way than it was before.”


Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.