Nikki Haley, GOP hopeful, visits NHIOP on first campaign tour


Courtesy/ Jacob Lamontagne

Haley becomes the first Republican candidate to challenge former President Donald Trump for the 2024 nomination

Michael Hanna, Crier Staff

Nikki Haley visited the New Hampshire Institute of Politics to kick off the first event of her Presidential campaign. Haley, the former Governor of South Carolina and Ambassador to the United Nations, is the first candidate to challenge former President Donald Trump, who also recently visited the Granite State, signaling the importance of the state remains strong in Presidential politics.

Institute Director Neil Levesque opened the event by saying, “tonight, you are going to hear from a candidate who will look you in the eye. She s going to talk to you as a voter, and she is going to take questions and follow-up questions. That is a great New Hampshire thing, and that is a great American thing.”

Director Levesque was followed by General Don Bolduc, who ran for senate against Maggie Hassan in the 2022 election. The former Trump-endorsed senate candidate has recently endorsed Haley for President. In response to the self-asked question, “why Nikki Haley?” Bolduc responded, “I have come to know her as a trusted friend. She took an interest in me as a candidate and helped me and nurtured me, and gave me ideas that helped me on the campaign trail. She did not judge me on my mistakes but rather judged me on my potential.”

Bolduc then proceeded to highlight both her accomplishments as Governor and as UN Ambassador. He wrapped up his speech by stating, “damned if you do, damned if you don’t. At the end of the day, we have a candidate that I’m hoping you will join me in supporting and telling others that Nikki Haley is an outsider, she is a trailblazer, and she is a fighter.”

Haley introduced herself through her upbringing as the daughter of immigrants who legally immigrated from India. She started working at her parent’s small business at the age of thirteen. She then went on to tout her record as a state legislator in South Carolina, championing the cause for governmental transparency in the legislature. This cause helped her win her first election to the Governor’s office in South Carolina.

Haley continued to explain her record as Governor. She spoke about the economy she inherited from her predecessor, saying, “we had a state that had been hurting. All of our jobs were in the textiles industry, and when the textile industry went overseas, so did our jobs.” After she took over, the unemployment rate dropped. She explained, “we were building planes with Boeing. We were building more BMWs than any place else in the world. We recruited Mercedes-Benz, and we had five international tire companies.”

She also defended her record on strict voter ID laws, adding, “if you need to show an ID to purchase Sudafed if you need to show ID to board a plane, you should have to present ID to protect the integrity of the election… We passed voter ID in South Carolina and now we have more people voting than ever before.”

As Ambassador to the United Nations, she learned how to stand up to “America’s bullies” on the international stage. After moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem instead of Tel

Aviv, Haley had to defend the decision. When only 68 countries voted against condemning the United States for this decision, she asked her staff to create a book that included “A column of all 193 countries, a second column with the number of times a country voted with us and against us, and a third column to include how much foreign aid we give them.” She then took that book to former President Trump, and he allegedly “lost his mind.” She justified this by saying, “We need to start dealing with countries who want to partner with us.”

Haley closed her monologue with a common conservative statement, “the role of government is to secure the rights and freedoms of the people. It was never intended to be all things to all people, and we have watched it just continue to take over our lives.”

After opening the event up to the town hall portion, the first question was from a local teacher who claimed that “teachers are leaving the field in droves, and a lot is caused by politicians and media who accuse teachers of doing things to children and indoctrinating them,” she asked, “what would you do to bring up teachers so more people will come into the field?” Haley responded to this by saying, “first of all, not everyone hates you. They hate your school board. Look at the pressures we’re putting on teachers, we’re making them be the parent, the teacher, the psychologist, the nurse, and the pastor.” She then went on to talk about the importance of school choice, much to the disappointment of the teacher who asked the question.

The next question came from an older lady who asked about when she would reopen the Keystone Pipeline, which the Biden administration has shut down. Haley responded with “yesterday.” She was then heckled by a man in the front row, screaming that the oil companies had just made record profits and that Haley was lying by placing blame on the Biden administration. She responded that the most effective way to lower the cost of energy and get the prices down from the oil companies was to open up the energy sector and get more supply.

The final question came from the New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women who asked how her time in the UN has prepared her for the presidency. Haley said, “the biggest thing I can tell you that I learned is what I just did with this gentleman (pointing at the heckler). What I learned while being bullied on the playground as a child was when my mom said, ‘your job is to show people how you are similar, not how you are different.’ That lesson taught me first to talk about things you agree on so everybody can settle down and then talk about the solution.”

Haley is the first Presidential Candidate to visit the Institute in the 2024 cycle and will certainly not be the last. Director Levesque and the Student Ambassadors have a full schedule of events, and candidates, so keep an eye out for any updates from NHIOP throughout the spring semester.