Nikki Haley's Daughter Rena Played A Bigger Part In Presidential Debates Than We Realized

Prior to Nikki Haley backing out of the 2024 presidential race — with one last swipe at Donald Trump — her daughter, Rena Haley (who goes by her married name, Rena Haley Jackson), played a more significant role in her debate performances than you may have realized. Speaking to Fox News, in November 2023, Rena shared the sweet way she stepped up for the former presidential hopeful, taking on the duty previously held by her father, Michael Haley, of ensuring she was always in Nikki's eye-line to give her some reassurance while her mother was speaking onstage. 

Appearing alongside her brother, Nalin Haley, Rena explained, "My dad was always that person for my mum during her debates so she could always just pinpoint and just know that she's okay, she's got that good energy. And so, that's kind of the role that I took on with my dad being gone." Rena was referring to Michael being deployed to Africa for a year with the South Carolina Army National Guard, with his stint beginning in June 2023. Fortunately, Rena genuinely likes to make a lot of eye contact with her mom while she's onstage and will often give her a smile or a thumbs up too.

The following month, Nikki confirmed, via an interview clip posted on Instagram, just how much she appreciated her children rallying around her following Michael's departure. "I'm so grateful to Rena and Nalin for stepping up to the plate while Michael is deployed. I am surrounded by blessings!" the former South Carolina Governor captioned it.

Nikki Haley's daughter was also name-dropped during a debate

One moment Nikki Haley may have needed her daughter's support more than ever was when Rena Haley's name was brought up during a debate. Things turned sour in November 2023 when Vivek Ramaswamy, Nikki's rival for the Republican nomination, mentioned Rena after the presidential hopeful was slammed for joining TikTok. "In the last debate, [Nikki] made fun of me for actually joining TikTok while her own daughter was actually using the app for a long time. So you might want to take care of your family first," Ramaswamy said.

Understandably, the former governor didn't take it lying down. "Leave my daughter out of your voice," she hit back, before telling Ramaswamy, "You're just scum," (via CNN). And Nikki was still in total mama bear mode when asked about the exchange a few days later. "Look, I'm a mom. I'm a mom. So the second that you go and you start saying something about my 25-year-old daughter, I'm going to get my back up," she informed NBC News.

The outspoken politician also made it clear that she differed from Ramaswamy on several key issues not solely related to his treatment of her family. But Nikki and Rena didn't let his comments keep them from campaigning. A month later, Rena was proudly by her mom's side during an appearance in Iowa. Nikki shared photos from their day together on Instagram and gushed in the caption about how wonderful it was to have her by her side. 

Rena Haley's brother also made his support for his mom very clear

That's not the only time one of Nikki Haley's children has gotten involved with her political career either. In February 2024, Nikki's son, Nalin Haley, made a rare comment on her job while appearing alongside his mom during a campaign event in South Carolina. Nalin supported Nikki in a very tongue-in-cheek way by calling out South Carolina politician Tim Scott amid his apparent support for Donald Trump. 

The former president's inner circle hasn't had the nicest things to say about her with Lara Trump, for instance, making her feelings about Nikki crystal clear. "I saw Trump standing side by side, he was next to Senator Judas — excuse me, Senator Scott," Nalin quipped at the time (via The New York Times). The Haleys are clearly a close family. Nikki has spoken out about how much her kids mean to her several times, including during their joint Fox News interview. 

In it, the former governor also revealed how she wanted to keep family time sacred for them always, despite being so busy chasing her political dreams. "The goal was always to make sure we had that family dinner and that they knew we were there," she asserted of how they've managed to stay so close amid her tough career demands.