Nikki Haley lends Donald Trump’s team diversity, but little diplomatic heft

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Haley, 44, represents what some Republicans have said could be the new face of the Republican Party: a younger, more diverse generation of leaders who could help bolster conservatives as US demographics shift.By picking fellow Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to serve as US ambassador to the United Nations, US President-elect Donald Trump's pick rounded out his early Cabinet choices with his first woman and ethnic minority.

But he also opted for a state politician with little experience in the federal government or international diplomacy who has been a sharp critic, backing two of his rivals and criticizing the harsh rhetoric of the presidential campaign.

In tapping the popular governor of a state that supported him, Trump's choice could signal an attempt to reach out to minorities in the wake of his Nov. 8 victory following a bitterly divisive campaign.His victory has sparked protests and concerns by those worried that his denunciation of immigrants, Muslims and Hispanics during the campaign could translate into policies eroding civil rights.

Trump said on Wednesday that Haley could bring people together and was "a proven dealmaker" who "will be a great leader representing us on the world stage."

Haley, 44, represents what some Republicans have said could be the new face of the Republican Party: a younger, more diverse generation of leaders who could help bolster conservatives as US demographics shift.

The daughter of Indian immigrants, she drew national attention in 2015 when she led a push to remove the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol grounds in Columbia after a white gunman killed nine people at a historic predominantly African-American church in Charleston.

But Haley, now serving her second four-year term as governor, has little experience in foreign policy and the diplomatic issues likely to come before the United Nations.

In a statement on Wednesday, she praised the state's residents for taking "a chance on a little-known, 38-year old, minority, female governor" when she took office six years ago.Like Trump, Haley came to politics as an outsider.

After years working in her family's gift shop in Bamberg, a small town an hour south of the state capital, she ran for state representative in 2004 and defeated a nearly 30-year incumbent, touting her fiscal conservatism while brushing off racial slurs.

She won her gubernatorial bid in 2010 on a platform of reform, receiving the endorsement of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, a former Republican vice presidential nominee and darling of the party's Tea Party wing.