Presidential candidate Nikki Haley paid a visit to Treynor, Iowa Monday evening, speaking to a crowd of around 150 people, nearly all of whom (according to a show of hands) had never heard her speak at a town hall event before.
Haley briefly outlined her political resume as a former State House member in South Carolina, Governor, and United Nations Ambassador. She outlined her domestic policy positions, focusing heavily on her tea party credentials of opposing “earmarks” and deficit spending, as well as education, border enforcement, veterans affairs, term limits, and energy policy — specifically supporting the Renewable Fuel Standard Program.
Haley’s significantly more “hawkish” stance on foreign policy, however, sets her apart from opponents Vivek Ramaswamy and Ron DeSantis. She described Ukraine as, “a pro-American, Freedom loving country that was invaded by a thug, and half a million people had died because of Putin.” Her support for the war effort in Ukraine, which she was careful to highlight meant “the equipment and the ammunition to win” and not ground troops, was something akin to the “domino theory” of the Vietnam Era. “Russia said once they take Ukraine, listen carefully, Poland and the Baltics are next,” Haley said. “If that happens, America is at war, because those are NATO countries. This is about preventing war.”
Among those in the crowd was Angie Bacon, husband of Congressman Don Bacon, who had similar something very similar about Ukraine at a River City Republicans’ luncheon in May earlier this year. “If he [Putin] prevails, he could very well invade the Baltics,” Bacon said. “He’s called the Baltics ‘renegade states.’ Good people could disagree, but I don’t want to be 1938.”
Haley tied her support for war against Russia directly into conflicts in Israel. “Did Putin call Netanyahu on October 8th? No. … He called Hamas, invited them to Russia, and held hands and named themselves friends. We now know that it was the Russian intelligence that showed them how to get through the barrier in Israel.”
According to Haley, however, the United States’ number one security threat is China. She highlighted China buying land in the United States, funding American Universities, and buying the the United States’ largest pork producer, which is located in Iowa. She also cited Chinese Fentanyl as a significant threat. “They’ve killed more Americans with Fentanyl than the Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam Wars combined, 75,000 Americans last year alone,” Haley said.
Haley highlighted concerns about China invading Taiwan and also tied it back to Ukraine. “The Taiwanese want the US and the West to support Ukraine, because they know if Ukraine wins, China won’t invade Taiwan.” She connected all of this to Iran as well. “Ukrainians want the US and the West to support Israel, because the Ukrainians know if Iran, wins Russia wins,” Haley said. “Russia, China, and their junior partner Iran are in an Unholy Alliance.”
Haley spoke only briefly about former president Donald Trump, who is leading her and all other Republican candidates by double digits in most polls. “I agree with a lot of his policies. I had a good working relationship with him. But rightly or wrongly, chaos follows him,” Haley said, “You don’t fix Democrat chaos with Republican chaos.”
Haley had some criticism for rival Ron DeSantis. “Every single commercial he’s done has been a lie,” Haley said. “Today, he said that I want our troops to be in Ukraine. I’ve never even said anything like that.”
Haley’s harshest criticism, however, seemed to be directed toward Congressman Thomas Massie, who appeared recently with DeSantis in Iowa, though she did not refer to him by name. “You’re going to bring the most anti-Israel Republican into this state to campaign with you?” Haley said. “The only Republican who voted with the ‘squad,’ against condemning anti-Semitism on college campuses? The guy voted against condemning those presidents that sat there, and said that it was okay?”
Haley took a handful of questions from the crowd, including one from a six-year-old Kindergartener named Sam, who wanted to know what Haley liked to do with her kids. Other questions were on military recruitment, school bullying, and Ron DeSantis’ “book ban” in Florida, which Haley seemed to support.
“When I was in school, you didn’t have access to anything related to sex. And you didn’t have the first sex ed class until seventh grade. And even in seventh grade, you had to have your parents sign a permission slip in order to do it,” Haley said. “That’s something that if parents want their kids to see it, they can have their kids see it. We just want our kids to learn the basics.”