To date, Haley’s careful strategy has been to leave a trail of breadcrumbs so that she can position herself for whatever the political environment may be in 2024. If the situation calls for it, she can portray herself as somebody who happily served in the Trump administration and point to many supportive statements. If the party turns against Trump, she can cite disagreements and portray her time as U.N. ambassador as an example of answering the call to serve her country, despite her personal reservations. Or, she can find a way to fuse the two elements of the party, paying due deference to Trump while charting a kinder, gentler course.
While on the surface, this strategy would appear to be the safe one, it also comes with a high degree of risk. Presidential primaries are littered with bodies of once-promising candidates who were supposed to appeal to a broad constituency but ended up faltering as they self-consciously tried to be consensus candidates. Instead of winning over the electorate, they ended up struggling to inspire anybody and alienating all sides.
This was the case with Rubio, the candidate Haley endorsed in 2016. Rubio almost could have been designed in a laboratory by Republican political consultants. He gained national fame as a Tea Party icon and was seen by many in the establishment as somebody who could woo Hispanics and young voters, which party leaders saw as essential to winning in a demographically changing America. But his candidacy flopped as Trump went in an entirely different direction and appealed to the Republican electorate on a much more visceral level.
More recently, there is the example of the implosion of the candidacy of Sen. Kamala Harris.