Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador, may not possess the same loud and fiery demeanor as some of her Republican rivals in the presidential race. However, her appeals for common sense and experience in the White House have had a profound impact on crowds. As she challenges Donald J. Trump, the current front-runner, Haley has been actively campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire.
During her stump speeches, Haley consistently touches on key Republican themes. Below are five of her most reliable applause lines from recent appearances.
Firstly, Haley promises, “When I’m president, we will no longer give foreign aid to countries that hate America. That’s a promise.” As the only Republican woman in the race, she emphasizes her hawkish stances on China and her foreign policy expertise to stand out among the crowded field. Haley often recounts her experience under Trump’s administration, where she compiled a book revealing that the United States was providing financial assistance to countries that did not align with its interests. This anecdote serves a dual purpose, portraying her as a tough envoy unafraid to challenge the Washington establishment and someone who is willing to confront Mr. Trump with harsh truths.
Secondly, she asserts, “Instead of 87,000 I.R.S. agents, we’ll put 25,000 Border Patrol and ICE agents on the ground, and we will let them do their job.” This promise highlights the Republican base’s preoccupation with securing the Southwestern border. Haley echoes the misleading claims made by Republican lawmakers that Democrats intend to recruit an army of tax auditors through the Internal Revenue Service to scrutinize the financial filings of middle-class families. Like many other Republican candidates, she aligns with Trump’s border and immigration policies, advocating for a border wall, defunding sanctuary cities, and reviving a program from his era that requires asylum seekers to await their cases’ resolution in Mexico. Occasionally, she adds a light-hearted comment, stating that “nobody wants to remain in Mexico.”
Thirdly, Haley declares, “We will make sure that every member of Congress has to get their health care through the V.A. You watch how fast it gets fixed.” This line evokes the most passionate response from her audiences. Haley promises to address issues such as veteran homelessness, high suicide rates, and veterans’ access to healthcare. These topics hold a personal significance for Haley, as her husband is a major in the South Carolina Army National Guard, who served in Afghanistan in 2013. As her spouse embarks on a year-long military tour, coinciding with most of the GOP primary race, she empathizes with the struggles faced by military families.
Fourthly, Haley advocates for introducing term limits in Congress and administering mental health competency tests for individuals over the age of 75. Presenting herself as a representative of a “new generation of leaders,” Haley aims to distinguish herself from her competitors by taking an early stance on the issue of age limits among political leaders. She explicitly criticizes President Biden, who at 80 years old, faces concerns about his age as he seeks re-election. Haley’s rhetoric suggests that a vote for Biden is essentially a vote for Vice President Kamala Harris.
Lastly, Haley opposes the inclusion of gender pronoun classes in the military, claiming it to be demoralizing. Her stance on this issue has faced backlash from Democrats, women’s rights groups, and transgender rights activists. Haley has been criticized for asserting that transgender girls participating in school sports represent the “women’s issue of our time” and for insinuating a link between “biological boys” in girls’ locker rooms and the high suicide rates among teenage girls. Although she has modified her statements to avoid connecting the two separate issues, Haley still prioritizes gender-related issues and raises concerns about the erasure of women.
In summary, Nikki Haley’s campaign speeches touch on core Republican themes, ranging from foreign aid policies, border security, healthcare reforms, congressional term limits, and gender issues in the military. Although she may not be as boisterous as some of her rivals, Haley’s messages resonate with crowds, leaving them wanting more.