Republican presidential candidate, Nikki Haley, standing next to the train tracks in her hometown of Bamberg, South Carolina. The Bamberg tracks are featured prominently in the opening of Haley’s campaign announcement video, both through image and commentary. (Photo courtesy of Nikki Haley’s YouTube channel)

The video announcing the presidential candidacy of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley prominently featured her hometown of Bamberg.

Haley’s parents immigrated from India, and Haley was born in Bamberg, 50 miles south of the capital city.

She said in the video, as she has before, that she wasn’t like anyone else in Bamberg. But now many leaders in the small town are rooting for her.

Bamberg County’s population is 59% Black and 38.1% white. Haley said in her video that the races are divided by railroad tracks that run through the city. 

City Councilman Leslie Hayes, one of seven council members, who is Black, said he “basically grew up with her.”

Haley returned to Bamberg within the past few months, Hayes said, and the town was “so happy.”

“Overjoyed, over-thrilled, outstanding,” he said. “So many adjectives, I can’t even (express). Just wanted to wish her the best, and hopefully she has a successful candidacy, we’re looking forward to it.”

Haley graduated with a degree in accounting from Clemson University, where she met her husband Michael Haley. The couple have two adult children.

She later served in the S.C. General Assembly, representing Lexington County for six years, before being sworn in as governor in 2011.

Haley, while in office, started the Original Six Foundation. The foundation sponsors programs aiming to assist children in less privileged schools around the state.

She still heads the foundation and returns to Bamberg to check on the programs it provides there. She also puts a lot of her own capital into it, said City Councilwoman Bobbi Bunch.

Haley resigned as governor halfway though her second term when then-President Donald Trump selected her to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

She later served on the board of directors for the Boeing aircraft manufacturer, which has a plant in Summerville, until 2020. She has been on Clemson’s board of trustees since 2021.

“We’re pretty proud of that young lady,” said Bamberg Mayor Nancy Foster.

City Councilwoman Kim Compton said Haley’s work with the Trump administration showed what she was capable of.

“I’m happy,” Compton said. “I’m excited about it. I’ll definitely be supporting her.”

Haley’s Feb. 15 campaign event in Charleston, not far from her residence on Kiawah Island, included an invitation to some members of Bamberg’s town government.

“The whole town (is just) going to back her, I’m sure,” Bunch said. “She’s just got so many things going for her culturally, and you know, coming from such a great state, anyway. So she’s got lots going for her.”

Many Bamberg city council members said Haley is a source of pride in the town. This sign is featured prominently on the Bamberg City Hall website. (Photo courtesy of the city of Bamberg)