Nikki Haley in Iowa

The former UN Ambassador and governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, appeared before a standing-room-only crowd on March 8, 2023 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The personal highlight for me was when I prefaced my questions to her by stating, “Before God and this crowd, I can say that you are a woman in her prime.” And I strongly emphasized the word “prime.”

She laughed and thanked me. The crowd loved it. I was glad I said it. She has a great amount of energy and is a very hard worker. The contrast with Joe Biden is stark.

The campaign is still new and the questions will become repetitive over time, so I wanted to ask her a timely question that dealt with Donald Trump.

Last weekend, Trump gave a long speech to CPAC. I asked her if she agreed with two promises that Trump made:

1. “To carry out the largest domestic deportation operation in American history.”

2. Start doing mail-in ballots and ballot harvesting the way the Democrats do; fight fire with fire.

She sort of dodged the first and didn’t respond about deportation, but she did say that she would close the border and do smart immigration reform. People will be admitted to this country based upon merit, not just numbers. During her speech she noted that her parents are legal immigrants and they very much resent people who cut the line. Her mother’s comment was that these people broke the law to enter the country so they will just continue to disrespect the law. Also, during her speech she said she would demand E-Verify for any employment. She said she did it in South Carolina and illegals aren’t that much of a problem there.

On the second question, she said “Republicans are too nice.” So, so true. She then went on to praise voter ID and how she enacted it in South Carolina. Here in Nebraska, voters approved a voter ID law but the Dems in the Unicameral are trying to muck it up.

Any person who can win a state-wide political race is an impressive person with lots of energy and smarts. I saw that first-hand in the recent campaign of Jim Pillen, who is now Nebraska’s governor. He put on over 100,000 miles on his pickup and worked tirelessly.

Having met many candidates during the 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns, I can attest that Nikki Haley is one of the smarter ones. She has a very quick mind and is good on her feet with questions. Since I was recently grilled by the Nebraska Supreme Court, this is not easy to do well.

My big impressions of her: She’s tough and tough-minded and very much a numbers person. But she’s also personable and likes people. She won’t be Accountant-in-Chief. On the first, she told the story about how she defeated a 30-year incumbent to win her seat in the South Carolina legislature. She then went on to win the GOP primary for governor against a large field.

When she became governor, she got a bill passed that increased the number of recorded legislative votes. Before that, fewer than 5% of the votes were recorded. The rest were voice votes! In Nebraska, the most prominent feature in the legislative chamber is a giant tally board.

As UN ambassador, she worked to have other countries respect America and she did that with foreign aid. She had a book compiled for President Trump (the only time she mentioned him by name) showing how much money we gave to countries that don’t help us, including China. My view is giving any money to China is crazy; much less the money that Fauci sent to conduct deadly gain-of-function research.

The Mexican cartels are no different than ISIS. China is our number one security threat. She would hold both accountable. I believe her.

Haley rightly noted that our pull-out from Afghanistan never would have happened if she was President. I’ll add that Trump never would have done it that way. My view is that stupid mistake by Biden gave Putin the green light to invade Ukraine.

Nikki Haley was trained as an accountant so numbers are important to her. Our debt is $32 trillion. Both Medicare and Social Security are in trouble. She would require a balanced budget. She’d limit benefits to the wealthy. She’d also move retirement age up for younger people. CNN latched onto that comment in its report.

Her parents are educated people and valued the American education system for their children. Our public education system is now broken. Kids should be able to read by the third grade. She favors school choice.

Politics is about addition; not subtraction. Younger people and minorities should be recruited to vote for the GOP. America is not a racist nation. If it was, she never would have been elected governor of the state that fired the first shot in the Civil War. Our national self-loathing must stop. No CRT in the schools.

A national purpose will unify us. That national purpose is the goal of becoming a strong and unified country. That’s kind of a tautology, but it sounds good for a political campaign. My view is that the Left doesn’t want that at all. The Left wants to manage our decline as we pay for our past sins.

David Begley, a graduate of Creighton University, is a lawyer in Omaha, Nebraska.

Image: National Archives

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