Nikki Haley posts tribute to father, who she says died on Father’s Day

Former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley posted an online tribute on Sunday to her father, who she said died on Father’s Day.

“This morning I had to say goodbye to the smartest, sweetest, kindest, most decent man I have ever known,” Haley wrote on X. “He taught his kids the importance of faith, hard work, and grace.”

The social media post included a photo of Haley hugging her father, Ajit Singh Randhawa, at an event in her native South Carolina to launch her presidential bid in 2023.

Haley, who suspended her run for the Republican nomination for president in early March, presented herself during her campaign as the proud daughter of Indian immigrants.

The former governor of South Carolina was the first prominent woman of color to seek the GOP nomination for the White House. Last month, she said she would vote for Donald Trump.

In her 2012 memoir “Can’t Is Not an Option,” Haley wrote about growing up in a small, segregated community in South Carolina. Her father kept his long hair and turban despite people whispering and pointing, which caused a “quiet anger” in young Haley.

Her parents, both from Sikh families in India, were wed in an arranged marriage. Her father, a biologist, left for Canada “with $8 in his pocket,” leaving his wife and young son behind in India. They joined him later.

He earned a doctorate at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and in 1969, he got a job teaching at Voorhees College in Denmark, S.C.

“It’s difficult to overstate what unusual figures my mom and dad cut in central South Carolina in 1969,” Haley wrote, describing her father as “tall and proud, in his Sikh turban.”

She said her parents saw “the ugly residue of a less tolerant time,” and were turned away from renting a home. Haley was born in 1972, delivered by the first physician in the area to have a desegregated clinic, she wrote.

Haley, who is one of four children, described her father in her memoir as “a remarkably tolerant and easygoing guy.”

When she campaigned for governor, her father would “hide in the corner” of her campaign events, because he didn’t want to hurt her chances, she recalled. They were seated in the front row at her inauguration.

During her bid for the 2024 Republican nomination, Haley walked a fine line on gender and race in an effort to appeal to the GOP base.

She was careful to underscore that being a woman of color was not an impediment to success. In a speech that launched her underdog bid, she said that “America is not a racist country.”

Haley did not specify her father’s cause of death. She paused her campaign in January to visit him in the hospital.

“He was an amazing husband of 64 years, a loving grandfather and great grandfather, and the best father to his four children. He was such a blessing to all of us,” Haley wrote on Sunday.

Joyce Lau contributed to this report.

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