Asked whether she would support Trump if he ran again, Haley responded simply “yes.”
That represents a MASSIVE shift from what Haley was saying about Trump — and his future in politics — just a few months ago.
Which is different than what she said on Monday! Like, a lot different!
So, what changed? Let me walk you through my theory.
Haley talked to Alberta — blasting Trump and predicting that he would never run again for office — in January, with the images of the January 6 US Capitol riot very much top-of-mind. (Alberta’s piece was based on a series of interviews with Haley over several months and didn’t come out until early February.)
“President Trump has not always chosen the right words. He was wrong with his words in Charlottesville, and I told him so at the time. He was badly wrong with his words yesterday. And it wasn’t just his words. His actions since Election Day will be judged harshly by history.”
There was also political calculation on Haley’s part. Trump was being blasted in almost every corner of the country for inciting the crowd on January 6 and then waiting to call them off. There were real questions as to whether this — finally — would be the breaking point for Republicans with Trump.
So Haley made a bit of a gamble. She went on record distancing herself with Trump, so that if the January 6 riot did destroy any future for him in politics, she would not be dragged down with him.
Which brings us to Monday and Haley. Given that January 6 didn’t ruin Trump, Haley needed to recalibrate her relationship to the former President. She couldn’t have the last thing she said about him be that he has “fallen so far” and that he couldn’t possibly run for president again. That would put her far out of step with the GOP base. And that is no place to be for a candidate who wants to run for president.
Here’s Haley’s calculation: If Trump does run again in 2024, he will be nearly impossible to beat because of his immense popularity within the GOP. If he doesn’t run again, then she will need to have Trump (or at least the Trump base) on her side. And in order for that to happen, she had to make nice with Trump. And that’s what she tried to do on Monday.