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Let the Nikki Haley 2020 rumors begin…

The UN ambassador clapped back at the White House, earning high praise and a high-profile apology.
Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks to the staff at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, May 23, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Nikki Haley, the current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and former South Carolina governor, would win a Republican primary against Donald Trump, said "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough today. And with that, speculation about Nikki Haley 2020 is officially underway.

It was sparked by a potential embarrassment for Haley that she put in turnaround: On "Face the Nation" Sunday, Haley said that the Trump administration was about to announce new sanctions on Russia for supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Soon after that, the White House denied her assertion. New economic adviser Larry Kudlow said that Haley had suffered some "momentary confusion."

"With all due respect, I don't get confused," Haley shot back in a statement. Kudlow quickly apologized and said he was "totally wrong."

Daaaamn, said Washington.

Would a Nikki Haley 2020 bid be successful?

"I actually think if she ran in 2020 — and this is not me making trouble, it's really not — I think if she ran in 2020 she would have a very good chance of being the first woman president of the United States," said Scarborough, a former GOP congressman, this morning. He praised her "American values" and Reaganesque approach to foreign policy.

Last night, former California Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Democrat, praised Haley's political acumen on MSNBC, saying she handled the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse "impeccably" after the racially motivated church bombing in Charleston.  Haley resigned her second term as governor to join the Trump administration.

Other political analysts said Haley was one of the few Trump appointees who had maintained a level of integrity in office, aided by her physical distance from the White House. At the UN, she has spoken out firmly against Russia and Vladimir Putin for meddling in the 2016 election, not taking cues from Trump's conciliatory stance.

"Republicans close to the White House whisper about the prospect of an alliance between Ms. Haley and Vice President Mike Pence, possibly to run as a ticket in 2020," reported the "New York Times" in a story about the sanctions fracas, noting that Haley's stance against Russia had at least once caused him to yell at the TV.