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SC Politics

Nikki Haley Holds Beaufort Rally As ‘First In The South’ Primary Looms

“South Carolina was proud …”

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On Wednesday evening, former United Nations ambassador and South Carolina governor Nikki Haley gave a waterfront home-state address in Beaufort, S.C. in preparation for this Saturday’s Republican partisan primary election.

Haley touted her economic accomplishments as governor of South Carolina, saying “we brought in Mercedes Benz, we brought in Volvo, we brought in five international tire companies.”

She also reminded the crowd of her legislative victories, saying “we passed pension reform, we passed tort reform, we passed the first body camera bill in the country.”

“We cut taxes, we built up our coffers, we paid down our debt, and South Carolina was proud,” Haley said.

(Click to View)

(Via: Dylan Nolan/FITSNews)

Haley contrasted her brand of fiscal conservatism with that of former president Donald Trump – who presided over unprecedented new spending during his time in office.

“Trump put us $8 trillion in debt in just four years – more than any other president,” Haley said. “He’ll try and tell you it was COVID, less than 20 percent was COVID.”

“They passed a $2.2 trillion COVID stimulus bill, without any accountability,” Haley continued. “They expanded welfare that’s now left us with 80 million Americans on Medicaid and 42 million Americans on food stamps, that’s a third of our country.”



Haley claimed she wants to “eliminate the federal gas and diesel tax in this country,” which would not only contrast her with Trump but also with her own prior positions.

South Carolinians might remember Haley’s support of an increase in the state’s gas tax after taking similarly fiscally conservative stances on the gubernatorial campaign trail.

“Let’s increase the gas tax by 10 cents over the next three years,” she said in her 2015 state of the state address.

As this media outlet reported at the time, Haley flip-flopped on her position against raising the gas tax on multiple occasions. While it is true she originally embraced a gas tax/ income tax swap, that proposal got less and less taxpayer-neutral as the debate wore on. Eventually, Haley abandoned her insistence on offsetting tax relief altogether.

The gas tax hike would eventually be signed into law over governor Henry McMaster’s veto after Haley was tapped by Trump to represent the United States at the United Nations.

(Click to View)

Nikki Haley addresses supporters in Beaufort, S.C. (Via: Dylan Nolan/FITSNews)

Directly attacking Trump’s assertion that the United State should require North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members to increase their defense spending, Haley accused the former president of “siding with a dictator” – adding that “America should never be so arrogant to think we don’t need friends.”

Haley also hit Trump for “mocking members of the military,” saying there was “nothing normal” about that kind of rhetoric.

Trump has been criticized for comments made about Haley’s husband, Michael Haley – who has been deployed to the Horn of Africa since June 2023 with the 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.

“Where’s her husband?” Trump asked a crowd in Conway, S.C. earlier this month. “Oh, he’s away. He’s away! What happened to her husband? What happened to her husband. Where is he? He’s gone.”

(Click to View)


According to the former Palmetto State governor, a vote for her is a vote to return to normalcy.

During her speech in Beaufort, she noted …

“There’s nothing normal about illegal immigrants coming in and nobody stopping them.”

“There’s nothing normal about schools worrying more about gender pronouns than reading or math.”

“There’s nothing normal about these wars happening around the world.”

Portraying herself as a needed contrast to the chaos, Haley asked her audience to imagine “a country where you could sit down with your family for dinner and not worry about a political fight.”

Highlighting the decidedly non-normal political discourse of this era, two young men attending the rally erupted with an unwelcome question – asking the candidate why she “takes money from pedophiles.”



Although it’s quite likely many South Carolinians desire a return to normalcy, recent polling suggests they don’t view Haley as the antidote to today’s chaos.

An early February Monmouth University poll – conducted in conjunction with The Washington Post – showed Trump thrashing Haley by a whopping 26 percentage points. All told, 58 percent of “potential” GOP primary voters in the Palmetto State support the former president compared to just 32 percent who back their ex-governor.

Those numbers have evolved significantly since last September, when the same surveyors found 46 percent support for Trump and 18 percent support for Haley.

Despite the wide polling gap, Haley wasn’t the only one putting in ground work in Beaufort on Wednesday. Lara Trump told supporters of the former president who assembled at the Beaufort VFW that much of today’s chaos stems from the willingness of partisan actors operating in traditionally apolitical institutions to pursue political vendettas.

“Show me the man and I will show you the crime,” Trump said.

Lowcountry congresswoman Nancy Mace also addressed the Beaufort VFW crowd on Trump’s behalf, characterizing this abuse of the legal system as a greater threat to democracy than the threat Democrats allege the former president poses himself.



South Carolinians who’d like to cast their ballot this Saturday in the 2024 Republican primary can find their precinct and polling information here.

Despite the likelihood of being routed in her home state, Haley has repeatedly promised that South Carolina won’t be the end of her campaign.

Count on FITSNews to cover the 2024 election to its conclusion …



(Via: Travis Bell)

Dylan Nolan is the director of special projects at FITSNews. He graduated from the Darla Moore school of business in 2021 with an accounting degree. Got a tip or story idea for Dylan? Email him here. You can also engage him socially @DNolan2000.



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1 comment

medmondsm Top fan February 22, 2024 at 1:25 pm

Lemme get this straight … 42% of SC Republicans do not support the incumbent Republican Trump.


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