Former UN ambassador forced to deny she’ll replace Mike Pence as Trump’s running mate

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence stands with then-Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on September 20, 2017

Donald Trump’s former UN ambassador Nikki Haley has denied that she is being lined up as a replacement for Mike Pence as Vice President.

Haley spoke out to deny swirling rumours that Trump could move to ditch Pence for the 2020 election.

The former Governor of Indiana has failed to make a major impact during his three years as Vice President, beyond frequent spats over LGBT+ rights and criticism over his closeness to anti-gay hate groups.

Haley, who served as Trump’s Ambassador to the United Nations until December 2018, has been touted as a potential replacement for Pence.

Nikki Haley denies ‘false rumours’ that Mike Pence will be sacked

However, Haley poured cold water on the rumours in a tweet.

She made clear: “Enough of the false rumours. Vice President Pence has been a dear friend of mine for years.

“He has been a loyal and trustworthy VP to the President. He has my complete support. ❤️”

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual policy conference at the Washington Convention Center March 5, 2018 in Washington, DC.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference at the Washington Convention Center March 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

It is unclear what sparked the denial from Haley, who was first publicly suggested for the role in June.

At the time, a Wall Street Journal op-ed urged Trump to drop Pence for Haley “to have the best chance of re-election,” in order to help him reach out to “politically moderate suburban women, many of whom see him as divisive.”

Trump denied the rumours at the time, telling Fox Business: “I love Nikki. She’s endorsed me. She’s my friend. She’s a part of my campaign. But Mike has been a great vice president. He’s 100 percent [staying on].”

“We won together. We have tremendous evangelical support. you can’t break up a team like that… we get along really well together.”

Haley, who was Governor of South Carolina before joining the Trump administration, has an anti-LGBT record but one that is considerably  less extreme than Pence.

Pence has ‘extreme’ anti-LGBT record

In 2000, Pence published an election manifesto calling for HIV/AIDS prevention funding to be drained from “organisations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviours that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus,” an apparent reference to LGBT+ inclusive groups.

Pence instead called for funding for “institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behaviour,” which has since led to accusations he was endorsing conversion therapy.

While Pence served as Governor of Indiana, he signed the controversial ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act’, a law which allows religious people and businesses to cite their conscience as a defence in legal disputes.

Pence also appeared unable to answer when asked whether it should be legal to fire people because of their sexuality in a subsequent interview.

From 2013 to 2017, his cuts to HIV testing and ban on needle exchanges led to the worst outbreak of HIV/AIDS in the state’s history, sparking an intervention from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A 2018 report alleged that Pence has played a pivotal role in anti-LGBT actions by the Trump administration.

The Human Rights Campaign report looked in-depth at Pence’s record on LGBT rights as a candidate, as Governor of Indiana and as vice president, and found he has demonstrated a “consistent” approach to dismantling protections for LGBT+ people.

In March, Pence hit back “attacks” on his wife, Karen Pence, for teaching at a school that discriminates against gay children.