Nikki Haley announced on Tuesday she is resigning as the USA ambassador to the United Nations, but the rising Republican star immediately denied she was preparing to challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
Along with Grenell, other names being floated to replace Haley include U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Hunstman and acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Heather Nauert, even first daughter Ivanka Trump.
Before she was named by Mr Trump to her United Nations post, Mr Haley was governor of SC, the first woman to hold the post. "You can have your pick", he said. Nikki Haley submits resignation. "It has been an honour of a lifetime".
Haley was seen by her counterparts at the United Nations as a voice of clarity in a USA administration that often gave off mixed signals on foreign policy, diplomats say.
She was also instrumental in pressuring China to support a tough sanctions regime against North Korea. Haley said she is not running for the presidency in 2020 and plans to campaign for Trump. "I think you have to be selfless enough to know when you step aside and allow someone else to do the job".
In turn, Trump credited Haley with bringing glamour to the U.N. Ambassador's post while lavishly praising her for doing a "fantastic job".
"We've done a fantastic job together", he continued. "We've solved a lot of problems and we're in the process of solving a lot of problems", he said.
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One of these sources says Powell has become a favorite among people close to Trump to lead the USA delegation.
Dina Powell, a former Goldman Sachs executive who served in the Bush White House and State Department, and later as Trump's Deputy National Security Advisor, was one of the first names to be uttered as the next possible United Nations ambassador.
Many describe Haley as a fierce presence on the Security Council.
Haley's departure comes just weeks before next month's midterm elections.
If this was long-planned, it was apparently the best-kept secret in Trump's White House.
But she fired back hours later telling Fox News: "With all due respect, I don't get confused".
Haley, 46, is the daughter of Indian immigrants and a mother of two.
In a tweet after Haley declared she would be leaving, Ivanka Trump said she was "grateful for her [Haley's] friendship".