Gov. Nikki Haley accepts Trump’s offer to be ambassador to United Nations

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley waves after speaking at the Republican Governors Association annual conference in Orlando, Florida, on Nov. 15. John Raoux / AP
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley waves after speaking at the Republican Governors Association annual conference in Orlando, Florida, on Nov. 15. John Raoux / AP

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.

Haley, 44, is a two-term governor. She initially backed Trump rivals Sen. Marco Rubio and then Sen. Ted Cruz during the GOP battle for a White House nominee.

She is the first woman in the state’s history to hold the role and only the nation’s second Asian-American governor.

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.

Haley’s limited foreign policy experience is likely to draw scrutiny during Senate confirmation hearings for the Cabinet-level position.

If confirmed, Haley would succeed Samantha Power, who served as President Barack Obama’s U.N. ambassador since 2013.

Trump’s selection of Haley caps a remarkable year for their political relationship. They started 2016 with a fight and are ending it as allies in a nascent Trump administration.

The pair feuded in January after Haley’s Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union, during which she took a thinly-veiled swipe at Trump, warning against “the siren call of the angriest voices.”

Haley told TODAY’s Matt Lauer the following morning that then-candidate Trump “has definitely contributed to what I think is just irresponsible talk.”

“If we have citizens who are law-abiding, who love our traditions, who do everything to be productive citizens in America, they should feel welcome in this country,” Haley said. “The reason this country is so great is because the fabric of this country was made by immigrants, and its legal immigrants.”

In February, she called Trump “everything a governor doesn’t want in a president.” The following month Haley endorsed Rubio in the South Carolina primary. Following Rubio’s loss and subsequent withdrawal from the race, Haley said it was her “hope and prayer” tha Cruz would win the Republican nomination.

By the Republican National Convention in July, though, Haley had warmed enough to Trump to say she planned to vote for him in a tepid endorsement to MSNBC’s Jacob Soboroff.

“I would not be here if I didn’t want to make sure that Hillary [Clinton] was not going to be the next president,” Haley said in July.

Haley is married to a captain in the Army National Guard who served in Afghanistan, and has two teenage children, according to her biography on the state’s website.

On Wednesday, November 23, Gov. Haley issued the following statement:

“Six years ago, South Carolinians bestowed upon me the greatest honor of my life. They took a chance on a little-known, 38-year old, minority, female governor – something our state had never done before. I will be forever grateful, and I expect I will never again receive a higher honor.

“In the six years that followed, our state has reached incredible heights. We made South Carolina’s economic development the envy of the nation and brought new jobs to every county. We cut our unemployment rate by more than half, employing more South Carolinians than ever before. We reformed how we fund education, moving more resources to communities in greatest need. We passed landmark ethics reforms that make state government more accountable to our people.

“Our state has also persevered through some of the most difficult times. Nature damaged many of us with the thousand-year flood and Hurricane Matthew. Our hearts were broken for those we lost when tragedy struck Walter Scott’s family, Mother Emanuel, and Townville Elementary School. Yet through it all, the greatness of our people overcame those tragedies, even coming together to heal the old wounds represented by the Confederate Flag on the Statehouse grounds.

“This month’s elections have brought exciting changes to America. Our country faces enormous challenges here at home and internationally. Last week, President-elect Trump asked if I would meet with him to discuss those challenges, which I was happy to do. He has asked that I serve our country as our next Ambassador to the United Nations. Pending confirmation by the U.S. Senate, I have agreed.

“I always expected to finish the remaining two years of my second term as governor. Not doing so is difficult because I love serving South Carolina more than anything. I was moved to accept this new assignment for two reasons. The first is a sense of duty. When the President believes you have a major contribution to make to the welfare of our nation, and to our nation’s standing in the world, that is a calling that is important to heed. The second is a satisfaction with all that we have achieved in our state in the last six years and the knowledge that we are on a very strong footing.

“I will remain as governor until the U.S. Senate acts affirmatively on my nomination. We still have much to do in South Carolina, and my commitment to the people of our state will always remain unbreakable, both while I continue to hold this office, and thereafter. 

“In this holiday season, we all have much to be thankful for. Michael and I wish every South Carolinian a joyous Thanksgiving.”

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