Politics & Policy

Nikki Haley Back to Praising Trump after Capitol Riot Criticism

Then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a news conference in New York City, September 20, 2018. (Jeenah Moon/Reuters)

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley renewed her praise for former President Donald Trump in a speech at the Iowa GOP dinner Thursday after distancing from and disowning him as a GOP leader following the Capitol Riot.

The former South Carolina governor commended Trump for his foreign policy record,  stating that she “saw firsthand as ambassador to the United Nations that Donald Trump put America first.” She applauded his judgment in dealing with foreign adversaries, sharing an anecdote about Trump nicknaming North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un “Little Rocket Man,” saying he had “a way of getting people.”

The 2024 hopeful implied that Trump’s influence over American politics and Democratic behavior still endures despite his departure. “Thank goodness for Donald Trump, or we never would have gotten Kamala Harris to the border,” Haley said, jabbing at the the vice president’s long anticipated decision to take a trip to the border 90 days after being tapped to manage the migrant crisis.

Haley’s complimentary comments come after she denounced Trump’s role in the January 6 incident, in which an angry mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol building in a presumed attempt to intimidate Congress into overturning the election results in favor of the incumbent president.

During a speech before Republican National Committee officials, Haley said that Trump’s conduct after the 2020 election “will be judged harshly by history.”

She was also unafraid to criticize Trump’s rhetoric, which she suggested tends to be inflammatory and counterproductive. “President Trump has not always chosen the right words. He was wrong with his words in Charlottesville, and I told him so at the time,” Haley said at the RNC. “He was badly wrong with his words yesterday.”

In an interview with Politico, the former ambassador claimed that Trump had “lost any sort of political viability” and shared her belief that he is not “going to be in the picture.”

“He’s fallen so far,” she said.

Then again, in the interview Haley indicated that while he disappointed her, she sympathized with the president. “I understand the president. I understand that genuinely, to his core, he believes he was wronged,” Haley said to Politico of Trump’s  allegations of voter fraud and systematic malfeasance. “This is not him making it up.”

Haley’s words at the RNC however alienated Trump’s loyal base, who labeled her a traitor who betrayed the former president to preserve her future political career prospects. Their relationship has reportedly deteriorated since then, as Trump rejected Haley’s request to meet privately at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

Haley announced in April that she would not join the race to compete against Trump if he were to run for president again in 2024. Then, the two would have to try to make amends and discuss the game plan for the GOP.

“I would not run if President Trump ran, and I would talk to him about it,” the former South Carolina governor said. “That’s something that we’ll have a conversation about at some point if that decision is something that has to be made.”

While she did not confirm her 2024 intentions, Haley reiterated the importance of fighting for conservative values in the culture war at the Iowa event Thursday, slamming Critical Race Theory as a proposed addition to public school curricula, Democratic-backed big tech censorship, and the “riots and lawlessness” erupting under the opposing party’s reign.

“I said it last year at the Republican national convention, and I will keep on saying it: America is not a racist country. It’s just the opposite. America has done more to ensure equal justice and opportunity than any other country in history,” she declared.

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