Nikki Haley makes surprise cameo on Saturday Night Live

Nikki Haley has made a surprise appearance on Saturday Night Live as she hones sharper attacks against former president and 2024 rival Donald Trump ahead of the South Carolina primary.

The former governor and United Nations ambassador has been holding events across her home state ahead of the 2024 Republican primary there later this month.

But on Saturday, she made an unannounced stop in New York for a cameo during SNL’s cold open, where she sparred with breakout star James Austin Johnson who was impersonating Donald Trump.

Posing as a concerned voter from South Carolina, Ms Haley questioned Mr Trump over whether he should take a “mental competency test” then asked if he needed to “borrow” money following the $83m defamation judgement in the E Jean Carroll case.

She went on to deliver the show’s opening line — “Live, from New York, it’s Saturday night!” — only after taking a question from host Ayo Edibiri, star of the Emmy-award winning drama, The Bear.

Ms Edibiri questioned Ms Haley over a recent gaffe which had stemmed from a question about the cause of the Civil War. Ms Haley failed to mention “slavery” in her original explanation.

“What was the cause of the Civil War?” asked Ms Edibiri. “Do you think it might have started with an ’S’, and ended with a ‘lavery’?”

“Yep, and I probably should have said that to begin with,” Ms Haley replied.

The cameo, while a surprise, was in keeping with the show’s tradition of hosting presidential candidates. In 2008, Republican candidate John McCain appeared alongside Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin in a sketch about shopping network QVC – alluding to the dire financial straits his campaign was facing in the final days of the race against former president Barack Obama.

Mr Trump, too, has appeared on the show. The former president was an SNL host in 2015 ahead of his election win, and even danced in a music video set to Drake’s song Hotline Bling.

Mr Obama appeared in a sketch in 2013, playing himself, while Hillary Clinton made a visit to the set that same year for a meetup with her own impersonator, Amy Poehler.

Ms Haley remains the only competitive Republican challenging Donald Trump for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. After a better-than-expected showing in the New Hampshire primary, her campaign is aiming for an upset victory in her home state.

The former Trump administration employee has increasingly sharpened her attacks against the former president as the GOP field has narrowed.

South Carolina’s primary will take place on 24 February, following a caucus and primary in Nevada where the two Republican candidates are not competing directly.

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