LYNCHBURG, VA – Nikki Haley certainly draws a crowd and more often than not, they adore her. For example, in front of thousands of evangelicals at Liberty University, she has the honor of being the most requested political speaker. It's easy to see why since she speaks boldly on issue after issue. "I'm pro-life not because the Republican Party tells me to be … I'm pro-life because I understand the value of life," Haley told thousands of students on hand to hear her speak.
CBN News spoke with her behind the scenes at Liberty University where leaders prayed for her beforehand. "Thank you, Lord, for Ambassador Haley," said David Nasser, Senior Vice President for Spiritual Development at Liberty University. "Lord, thank you that she's our sister in Christ." Haley is cruising through America discussing her new book, With All Due Respect: Defending America With Grit And Grace. As for her approach to writing her book she tells CBN News, "You just have to lay it all out there."
As An Author, Haley Delivers
She definitely delivers. It begins with a childhood that places a little Indian-American girl in a small rural South Carolina town.
"We were the only Indian family in that small southern town," Haley says. "I talk about how we weren't white enough to be white, we weren't black enough to be black. My father wore a turban, still does to this day. My mother wore a sari, and they didn't know who we were or what we were or why we were there."
"I remember when I would get teased on the playground and I would come home and my mom would always say you're job is not to show them how you're different, you're job is to show them how you're similar," Haley continued.
Nikki Haley the Trailblazer
That parental lesson has served her well. Haley's been very successful and a trailblazer, too. She was the only female executive in her first cooperate job, South Carolina's first female governor, and when serving as US Ambassador to the United Nations, the only female sitting on the UN Security Council.
"There's never been a line to the women's bathroom in any of the jobs that I've had," Haley joked. "But what I have learned is, if you don't stand up for yourself if you don't protect your integrity, no one else will."
"With All Due Respect, I Don't Get Confused."
That view explains the reason behind the book title. After White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow suggested she was "confused" about something she said on a Sunday talk show, she knew her facts were straight and issued a blunt statement: "With all due respect, I don't get confused." Haley said she had no choice. "I tried multiple ways to get them to fix the situation and they didn't," said Haley. "When they wanted to basically throw me under the bus, I wasn't going to stand for that. But that didn't mean I needed to make a big stink about it. You can go and you can say something and you can kick with a smile. You can do it without being hateful and you can do it by still being strong and that's what I've always tried to do."
A "bless your heart" strategy? "Yes, bless your heart," Haley said with a smile.
As governor, Haley's, "bless your heart" approach turned to heartbreak in 2015 after the horrible church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina.
Most Challenging Event of Haley's Life
"It was probably the most challenging thing I've ever gone through in my life," she said. She attended nine funerals, all open caskets, and grieved with the families. It became overwhelming. She lost twenty pounds and a doctor friend said she was suffering from post-traumatic stress.
"I was going into press conferences and coming back into the office and crying. Or coming home and getting straight in the bed and just crying. I was in such despair," she recounted. But through this painful process, something happened. "That was really a defining moment where my faith changed to an entirely different level because when you can't control what's happening to yourself, all you have left is God and it was just handing it to God and saying, 'I need You to get me through this because I didn't know how to help myself anymore.'"
Standing With Trump on US Embassy Move to Jerusalem
God had more plans for her as she went from South Carolina to the UN as US Ambassador. There she became one of Israel's most vocal defenders. In the book, she points out how President Trump's decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem was not popular even among administration officials.
"When we discussed it in the National Security Council in the situation room, the president didn't have a lot of people that supported it," Haley said. "He just didn't."
She talks about two people in particular in the administration who wanted to thwart many of Trump's policies and wanted to enlist her help to do it: Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former Chief of Staff John Kelly.
"They were stalling and stopping what the president wanted to do not because he was unfit or they thought he was being rogue, but because they disagreed with him on policy… that was when they tried to tell me that they weren't undermining the president, they're trying to save our country, that I needed to join them."
Haley was a solid "no." Instead, we find out through her book that overall, she's been a solid "yes" on President Trump. She loves the results he's producing and so it begs a spiritual question of whether Haley believes God put Trump in place as president for such a time as this.
"Well, you know I think it goes to show that everything happens for a reason," Haley said. She says Trump as someone who has produced results and been a long-needed disrupter. "I think God sometimes places people for lessons and sometimes places people for change. And you can look at everything that's happened and I think we're seeing a lot of change and I think we're gaining a lot of lessons from it as well."
Haley for President 2024?
So what about her? What will God do with her life going forward? She polls as one of the most popular politicians in the land. Could she be the first female president in 2024?
"What I know is I'm too young to stop fighting," Haley said. "But I also know that 2024, five years is a long time in politics…I'm not going anywhere. I'll be around. We'll just take it a year at a time from there."
You can be sure, she'll be sporting a smile backed by that, 'bless your heart" attitude moving forward.