Haley hits the stump in South Carolina

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki HaleyNikki HaleyHaley says Biden, Harris should resign for 'the good of our country' Biden sparks confusion, cleanup on Russia-Ukraine remarks The 10 Republicans most likely to run for president MORE (R) gave a campaign-style speech in her home state Thursday night amid speculation she’s gearing up for a potential presidential run in 2024.

Haley, who also served as United Nations ambassador during the Trump administration, made the remarks while accepting the Nathan Hale Patriot Award from The Citadel. She is the first woman to receive the honor.

During the speech, Haley touted her time representing the U.S. at the United Nations, saying she established a reputation for the country as one of strength.

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“The countries I dealt with aren’t used to the way we do things down here,” she said. “They’re used to talking about things. But we know talk is cheap. We believe in actions — and getting things done. And the U.N. had gotten used to an America that abstained, apologized and abandoned our values. So, I introduced them to the America I know. A strong America. A proud America. An America that never backs down, always shows up, and takes names.”

She also hammered President BidenJoe BidenCourt nixes offshore drilling leases auctioned by Biden administration Laquan McDonald's family pushes for federal charges against officer ahead of early release Biden speaks with Ukrainian president amid Russian threat MORE, saying he and Democrats in Washington are “leading the greatest nation in history toward ruin” and are the “socialist party.” 

“They’re crippling our economy, crushing our families, endangering our streets, erasing our borders and withdrawing from the world,” she said.

The knocks come as Republicans feel the wind at their backs heading into the 2022 midterms. Plunging approval ratings for Biden, as well as lingering frustrations over the coronavirus, inflation and the withdrawal from Afghanistan have given the GOP an opening to go on offense in the fight for control of both chambers of Congress.

Haley, in a potential effort to nail down early support for a 2024 bid, has already issued a slew of endorsements in midterm elections across the country. Her speech in South Carolina Thursday is also notable given the state’s crucial primary race in presidential years.

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“We’ll win back Congress in 2022. We’ll win back the country in 2024. And make no mistake, we will win the fight for America’s future,” she said.

Haley has a wide network of donors, and a presidential campaign would likely draw eyeballs across the country.

However, her path to the nomination could be complicated. Early polls of potential 2024 contenders show her significantly trailing people like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantis Broward County Sheriff sacks deputy union head amid COVID-19 dispute Biden leading Trump, DeSantis by similar margins in new poll DeSantis leans into COVID-19 treatment fight amid 2024 chatter MORE (R) and former Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceBiden leading Trump, DeSantis by similar margins in new poll Best path to Jan. 6 accountability: A civil suit against Trump Biden trails generic Republican in new poll, would face tight race against Trump MORE. On top of that, she has a complicated relationship with former President TrumpDonald TrumpMark Walker to stay in North Carolina Senate race Judge lays out schedule for Eastman to speed up records processing for Jan. 6 panel Michael Avenatti cross-examines Stormy Daniels in his own fraud trial MORE, who she worked well with during his time in office but harshly denounced after the Jan. 6 insurrection.

While she did tone down her criticism, those comments could be an issue for a GOP grassroots that remains overwhelmingly loyal to Trump. 

It’s also possible that a Haley 2024 bid will not even get off the ground. She has previously said that she would not run if Trump were to wage a comeback campaign, and the former president has increasingly suggested he could take a third shot at the White House in three years.