Nikki Haley is seizing on heightened suspicion of China inside the Republican Party to assemble an army of grassroots supporters, marking another key expansion of her political footprint in anticipation of a 2024 presidential bid.
Haley is asking people to sign a petition urging Congress to get tough with “communist China” amid rising criticism of Beijing’s questionable handling of the coronavirus in the weeks after the disease emerged in Wuhan. The issue aligns with a hawkish foreign policy Haley promoted at the United Nations, and since leaving President Trump’s cabinet, that has emphasized confronting China’s authoritarian regime.
Republican voters are increasingly anxious about China’s intentions and global influence. Haley’s petition is unlikely to be the factor that pushes Congress to crack down on Beijing. But as the pandemic persists and its devastating impact on public health and the economy unfolds, the exercise allows Haley to elevate her profile on a critical national security issue and steadily build a list of supporters the former South Carolina governor could tap to fuel a presidential campaign.
“What are you going to do with a petition? The reality is, she’s building a list,” said Ed Rollins, a veteran Republican strategist who runs a pro-Trump super PAC.