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Nikki Haley urges Republicans considering Trump to ‘look forward’
The 2024 GOP presidential candidate stops in Marion
MARION — Newly announced Republican presidential candidate and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said Tuesday the party has “got to move forward” from former President Donald Trump, who is being investigated over his efforts to overturn his loss in the 2020 election and the events leading to the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
The response came after Haley opened a town hall event in Marion to audience questions. Haley was asked by a member of the audience whether she would consider Trump as her running mate.
“Think about that for a second,” Haley said to laughs. “How well do you think it would go over if I called President Trump and said, ‘Do you want to be my VP?’”
Haley called Trump a friend and said the two had a good conversation ahead of her announcing her competing bid for the White House.
“He was the right president at the right time,” Haley said to a crowd of more than 200 at her stop at Legacy Manufacturing Company. “He broke the things that needed to be broken and he worked to fix them. The reason I’m running is we got to move forward.”
Haley, a former governor of South Carolina, both sought to capitalize on her time in Trump’s administration as his ambassador to the United Nations as well distance herself with her former boss and now chief competitor.
“We can’t keep dealing with these issues in the past,” she said of Trump.
Haley, 51, is the first major Republican candidate to challenge the former president for the 2024 GOP nomination. She said Washington needs a “young generation of leaders,” and called for congressional term limits and a mandatory mental competency test for politicians older than 75 — an implied dig at President Joe Biden, who, at 80, is the oldest U.S. president in history, and a slight of Trump, 76.
She said one critic of the proposal, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, was “exactly the reason we need it.” Haley also mentioned two veteran Democratic lawmakers, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Maxine Waters, both of California.
Feinstein, who is 89 — the same age as recently reelected longtime Iowa Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley — and whose cognitive capacities have been widely questioned, recently announced she would retire at the end of her current term.
“It’s about accountability,” Haley said.
She criticized Biden over foreign policy and border security, calling the recent Chinese spy balloon episode “a national embarrassment,” the withdrawal from Afghanistan a “debacle” and every state a border state due to the flow of illegal drugs across the Southern border she said is contributing to an unrelenting U.S. overdose crisis linked to the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl.
Haley also decried critical race theory and the teaching of gender identity in schools, and said “we need to have school choice across this country.” She said foreign aid should go only to U.S. allies and called for an end to congressional earmarks to rein in spending and help curb inflation.
Haley talked about growing up in Bamberg, S.C., as the only Indian family in small, rural town.
“We weren’t white enough to be white. We weren’t Black enough to be Black,” she said. “My mom would say your job is not to show them how you're different. Your job is to show them how you're similar. And that town came to accept us.”
She said there is a “national loathing that has taken over our country.”
“For people in saying America is bad or rotten or is racist, I was the first minority female governor in the country. I am telling you America is not a racist country,” she said.
“We’re going to leave the past behind us, and we’re going to start looking forward and saying, ‘It’s time to get to work for America,’” Haley said. “Because when you focus on standing strong for America, when you focus on being proud of America, that’s when things work.”
Haley kicked off her 2024 White House bid last week with a rally in Charleston, S.C., and campaign stops in New Hampshire, an early GOP nominating state.
Iowa Republicans will hold their first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses in 2024, though national Democrats have voted to strip Iowa Democrats of their early perch. Already, several GOP contenders have been testing the waters in Iowa — including Haley, who campaigned last year with Iowa’s Republican congressional candidates.
South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott is scheduled to swing through Des Moines on Wednesday as he decides his political future. Scott is scheduled to speak at Drake University, part of what aides call a national listening tour before addressing an annual Polk County Republican fundraiser.
Former Vice President Mike Pence was in Cedar Rapids last week rallying conservative parents opposed to transgender-affirming policies in public schools like the one adopted last year by the Linn-Mar Community School District.
Vicki Deckard, 48, of Marion, said she liked Haley’s remarks and agrees that “it’s time for new, fresh faces in Washington.” But Deckard said she’s not committing yet to supporting Haley, and wants to see who else might run.
She said she’s concerned about federal spending, entitlement programs like Social Security, supply chain issues and gas prices.
“I just don’t think that we’re headed in the right direction right now with President Biden,” Deckard said, and that given Haley’s time as governor, “she could probably handle things better and get us in a better direction.”
Larry Pisarik traveled from Temple Hill, south of Cascade, to see Haley. His niece worked for Haley as her scheduling director when Haley was governor. He was joined by his wife, two brothers, a brother-in-law and a sister-in-law.
Pisarik said he had hoped Haley would have run to challenge Trump for the nomination in 2020. He said he and his family support’s Haley’s “strong Christian values” and stance on religious freedom.
Pisarik, too, said he feels that during Haley’s time as governor and ambassador, she demonstrated her commitment “to taking care of people and the country,” rather than cater to corporate interests.
Asked about the former president, Pisairk said he feels Trump “has shot himself in the foot with a lot of the problems he’s created for himself,” including Jan. 6.
“I honestly think she’ll be a much better candidate and someone the country can stand behind,” he said, calling Trump a “bully.” “She’s more willing to work with people.”
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