CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - South Carolina governor Nikki Haley was grilled in a confirmation hearing for United States ambassador to the United Nations Wednesday.
If confirmed by the U.S. senate, Haley would be the first-ever Indian-American to serve in a Cabinet-rank position in any presidential administration.
The transition from state government to national government will definitely come with a learning curve. As the state governor, Haley created policies for South Carolina. As an ambassador to the UN, Haley would be an advocate for U.S. policies on an international stage.
"The United States ambassador to the United Nations is our representative in the world's largest deliberative body that looks at all issues involved in foreign policy," Andy Brack said. Brack is the editor and publisher of the State House Report. He believes taking on the role of UN ambassador is a political move for Governor Haley. After 12 years in South Carolina, six in the House of Representatives and six as governor, Brack said Haley wants a bigger platform.
"She's looking for a next step and one of the next steps to stay on the national stage is to get that foreign policy experience," Brack said. "She is burnishing a resume that has state government experience and she's admitted in a number of interviews, including one on Channel 5, that she has some foreign policy experience but that's it's mostly in economic development."
Haley's new role means a bump in her current $106,000 salary. The current UN ambassador, Samantha Power, makes about $179,000 annually. It is not clear what salary Haley will have, but Brack said accepting this position is not about the money.
"People don't do jobs like this for the salary," Brack said. "People do jobs like this for public service and for other reasons that are personal, such as personal ambition to move forward."
Transitioning from a rural state into international issues will require some on-the-job training. Brack said, despite her lack of international experience, her exposure in South Carolina, with the Emmanuel Church Shooting, Slager trial, and several natural disasters, has prepared her to take this next step.
"There is going to be a huge learning curve, especially with her not having the foreign policy experience that most UN ambassadors have," Brack said. "She's been governor of a state that's been growing and has been in the limelight a lot."
As Haley plans to say goodbye to her role as South Carolina governor, Lieutenant Governor Henry McMaster is preparing to take over.
As for filling McMaster's vacancy, the role is typically filled by the state senate president pro-tem, who is currently republican Hugh Leatherman. The State House Report predicts Leatherman, who does not want the Lt. Gov. job, will resign from this position to carry out his responsibilities as the chairman of the finance committee. Brack believes the senate will elect republican senator Kevin Bryant of Anderson to serve as pro-tem and lieutenant governor.