Former U.N. Ambassador and Republican (GOP) presidential candidate Nikki Haley addressed key political issues including border security, abortion, former President Trump, and the importance of faith during a Fox News town hall event in Des Moines recently. Haley emphasized the prime importance of restoring border security amid an unprecedented surge of illegal immigration during the Biden administration. Haley, who was the first GOP candidate to visit the U.S. southern border during the 2024 primary campaign, said her plan to fortify the border would involve “implementing a national E-Verify program, defunding sanctuary cities, stopping handouts to illegal immigrants, and firing Biden’s new IRS agents and hiring 25,000 new Border Patrol and ICE agents.” She also noted how the deaths attributable to fentanyl have surged to become the No. 1 cause of death for Americans between 18 and 45, which she attributed to the country’s porous borders. She noted the problem also exists on the country’s northern border.
“And don’t think for a second China doesn’t know what they’re doing when they send it over,” she said of fentanyl. “If we want to deal with this, we have to deal with it once and for all. No more excuses. And that means more than just building a wall. We need to do more than that.” Haley also said she would reinstitute Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. During a previous town hall in December, Haley said securing the border “is job No. 1, priority No. 1.” Haley also touched on the importance of family values during the town hall, nothing that she always prioritized her role as a mother, which she said was inextricable with her roles as a public official. She also stressed the importance of faith. “And I think right now, what we need to do is, one, it’s OK to have God in your life and say that. I think I walk by faith, not by sight, and I think we should never be afraid to say that” she said. Haley, who served as governor of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017, remembered that days before the 2015 mass shooting at the Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, she had called for a state day of prayer, which she believes had a positive spiritual impact.
Noting she was “vilified” for her call to prayer, she said she “thought it was so important, because at that time there was a lot of toxicity from the Obama administration and division, if we were feeling what was happening.” “Now I think it was divine, the fact that we had that day of prayer before one of the worst shootings that our country had ever seen,” she continued. “I think God saved us. There was a reason, on the heels of Ferguson, that we didn’t have riots, we had vigils. There’s a reason that we didn’t have protests, we had prayer. Because we had that in our hearts and on our minds, and I think that we have to always do that, especially now going forward.” Regarding abortion, Haley noted that a six-week federal abortion ban is not a realistic goal. “The only way a federal ban will pass is if you have a majority of the House, 60 Senate votes, and a signature of a president,” she said. “We haven’t had 60 senators in over 100 years. We may have 45 pro-life senators.”
Suggesting “the fellas” don’t know how to effectively talk about the issue of abortion, she said the issue should be humanized and not demonized. “You have to humanize this issue, and understand that everybody has a story,” she said. “Our overall goal should be how do we save as many babies as possible and support as many moms as possible. That way you take away all the divisions.” Claiming Democrats have used “fear” while Republicans have used “judgment” on abortion, she said she believes some form of common ground and consensus on the issue is obtainable. Haley, who served in the Trump administration, also addressed the tension of running against her former boss, noting that she called him before announcing her candidacy. “Look, just because President Trump says something doesn’t make it true,” she said in response to some attack ads from his supporters in New Hampshire. “I appreciate all the attention President Trump is giving me. It is quite sweet and thoughtful of him. But he is lying about it.”
Responding to Trump’s allegations that Haley would sell out her supporters like she sold him out, Haley said, “When I said that I would never run against him, we hadn’t had the debacle in Afghanistan, or inflation go through the roof, and we didn’t lose the midterms by ridiculous numbers.” “What he won’t tell you is when I decided to run, I called him. And I called him for two reasons. One, because it was the right thing to do, and two, because I wanted him to know I was in it to win it,” she said. She said she told Trump that there was a need for a “new generational leader,” and that the country needed to leave his “baggage and negativity behind.” “I think President Trump was the right president at the right time. I agree with a lot of his policies. But rightly or wrongly, chaos follows him, and you all know I’m right,” she said. “We can’t be a country in disarray and a world on fire and go through four more years of chaos,” she added. “We won’t survive it.”
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