In 2024 Launch Speech, Haley Pitches an American Values Campaign

In 2024 Launch Speech, Haley Pitches an American Values Campaign
Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley visits "Fox & Friends" at Fox News Channel Studios in New York City on Nov. 12, 2019. (John Lamparski/Getty Images)
Nathan Worcester
News Analysis

In her inaugural campaign speech, Nikki Haley blended references to American values with an appeal for change, striking a balancing act as she seeks to gain Republican support.

Haley, the first major candidate to challenge former President Donald Trump in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, launched her campaign on Wednesday from Charleston, South Carolina.

“We’re ready—ready to move past the stale ideas and faded names of the past, and we are more than ready for a new generation to lead us into the future,” Haley said.

Haley, whose full name is Nimrata Nikki Haley, herself as “the proud daughter of Indian immigrants.”

“My parents left India in search of a better life. They found it in Bamberg, South Carolina, population 2,500,” Haley added.

“Our little town came to love us, but it wasn’t always easy. We were the only Indian family. Nobody knew who we were, what we were, or why we were there. But my parents knew. And every day they reminded my brothers and my sister that even on our worst day, we are blessed to live in America.”

Yet, Haley also took aim at what she described as “a self-loathing” mentality among Americans that she said had come to grip the nation under President Joe Biden’s leadership, adding that the president and the vice president “say America’s racist.”

Vice President Harris said in 2021 at Emory University that “racism is real in America, and it has always been,”

Around the same time that year, Biden called the police-custody death of George Floyd a “murder” which “ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism ... the systemic racism that is a stain [on] our nation’s soul.”

But according to Haley, as she spoke to supporters in Charleston, “America is not a racist country.”

“Take it from me, the first minority female governor in history,” she said.

Haley was South Carolina’s governor from 2011 to 2017. She later served as ambassador to the United Nations under former President Trump, from 2017 through 2018.

“America isn’t perfect but the principles at America’s core are perfect,” she said, later stating that her candidacy was “not about identity politics.”

“I don’t believe in that. I don’t believe in glass ceilings either,” she said.

Haley, 51, drew attention to her relative youth as a strength in the context of America’s struggle with China and its ruling Chinese Communist Party.

“We won’t win the fight for the 21st century if we keep trusting politicians from the 20th century,” she said.

She advocated for mandatory voter ID and term limits for Congress, two policy proposals touted by Trump in his campaign launch speech.

But Haley had unique proposals of her own, including mental competency tests for older politicians and an end to earmarks, among other policies.

Long criticized by some on the American right and left as being aligned with neoconservatism, the ideology and intellectual tradition of some of the policymakers and politicians who launched the Iraq and Afghanistan wars during the George W. Bush presidency, Haley struck another careful balance on foreign policy, pitching her platform from an “America First” angle.

“A strong military doesn’t start wars. A strong military prevents wars,” she said.

“We'll stand with our allies, from Israel to Ukraine, and stand up to our enemies in Iran and Russia.”

Haley and American History

“As governor, I saw our state move beyond hate and violence, and lift up everyone in peace,” Haley said.

Haley’s comments, including her call to “move past the stale ideas and faded names of the past,” drew the attention of legacy media and many online commentators to the former governor’s shifting stances on South Carolina’s past in the Confederate States of America.

Some conservatives have taken Haley to task over what they see as a lack of backbone as governor, when she took down the Confederate flag that flew above the South Carolina State House.

Haley made the move in 2015, after Dylann Roof carried out the Charleston church shooting. Roof had posed with the flag in photos before killing nine people at the historic black house of worship.

“I think the more important part is it should have never been there. These grounds are a place that everybody should feel a part of. What I realized now more than ever is people were driving by and felt hurt and pain. No one should feel pain,” Haley told CNN’s Don Lemon at the time.

In a 2019 interview with Blaze TV host Glenn Beck, Haley said Roof had “hijacked” the flag.

“People saw it as service, and sacrifice and heritage—but once he did that, there was no way to overcome it,” she told Beck.

Nathan Worcester covers national politics for The Epoch Times and has also focused on energy and the environment. Nathan has written about everything from fusion energy and ESG to Biden's classified documents and international conservative politics. He lives and works in Chicago. Nathan can be reached at [email protected].
Related Topics