Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley made her pitch to caucus-goers in early voting Iowa on Sunday evening – appearing at a CNN town hall moderated by host Jake Tapper. The second-tier presidential candidate – whom many believe is really running for the vice presidency – touted her experience both as governor and as ambassador to the United Nations.
“I don’t play for second,” Haley assured Iowans in attendance – and those watching the town hall across the country. “I never have; I’m not going to start.”
“All this vendetta stuff? We’ve been down that road,” Haley said, referring to DeSantis’ ongoing battle with über-woke entertainment giant Disney.
Haley recently encouraged Disney to relocate to South Carolina, saying the Palmetto State was “not woke, but we’re not sanctimonious about it either.” That was a not-so-subtle reference to one of Trump’s favorite nicknames for DeSantis: “DeSanctimonious.”
DeSantis fired back at his critics during his latest trip to South Carolina.
“Some of these Republicans are taking Disney’s side,” he said. “Disney’s view is that it’s appropriate to teach a kindergartner they can change their gender.”
During her Iowa town hall, Haley also bashed DeSantis for referring to the war in Ukraine as a “territorial dispute.”
“This is bigger than Ukraine,” she said. “This is a war about freedom – and it’s one we have to win.”
Haley added it was “in the best interest of our national security for Ukraine to win.”
Haley is correct about the conflict being “bigger than Ukraine.” But is it really a war for “freedom?” Last time I checked, the impetus for this regional conflict was America’s decision to launch a coup in Ukraine nearly a decade ago – one which overthrew the nation’s democratically elected government. Nonetheless, Haley and her fellow neoconservatives (a.k.a. warmongers) seem intent on writing checks with their mouths that American taxpayers cannot afford to cash.
Especially one warmonger …
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One area where Haley did score some points? Entitlements. As I have previously pointed out, Haley has been a rare voice of substance on these issues. And while I do not trust her to be an honest broker when it comes to delivering the goods – she deserves some credit for not caving right off the bat like Trump and DeSantis.
“We can’t keep kicking this can down the road,” Haley said. “And I know that Trump and DeSantis have both said we’re not going to deal with entitlement reform – well, all you’re doing is leaving it for the next president and that’s leaving a lot of Americans in trouble.”
That is 100 percent accurate …
How was Haley’s town hall received? Writing for The New York Times, correspondent Trip Gabriel critiqued Haley’s “effort to emerge from the low single digits in polls where she has been mired.” According to Gabriel, Haley was “well versed on policy issues, consistently upbeat and evenly tempered” – but added “there were few shoot-out-the-lights moments” for the candidate he described as an “also-ran.”
Gabriel also pointed out most of Haley’s policy planks represented “a throwback to typical Republican Party stances before its populist takeover.”
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Outdated or not, Democrats recoiled at Haley’s policies.
“Folks who watched that town hall now know that Nikki Haley is just as extreme and disastrous as the other MAGA extremists running in the GOP primary,” Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Jaime Harrison tweeted.
Haley has thus far failed to move the needle in Iowa – or anywhere, for that matter. According to RealClearPolitics, the latest composite polling from the Hawkeye State has her backed by only 5.3 percent of likely caucus-goers, well behind DeSantis (25.3 percent) and Trump (47.7 percent). Nationally, composite polling data has Haley at 4.4 percent – also behind DeSantis (22.4 percent) and Trump (53.2 percent).
Haley will also find it increasingly hard to be heard in this contest with the addition of new entries – including former vice president Mike Pence, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie and North Dakota governor Doug Burgum, all of whom are scheduled to formally announce their candidacies this week.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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