URBANDALE, Iowa (WHO) — Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, campaigned in Urbandale Monday night. It was her first appearance in the state since she launched her campaign for president last week. Haley addressed numerous issues before more than 200 people at Royal Flooring.
–She said that the U.S. has to “stop buying friends” and suggested that the country should limit foreign aid to countries that don’t support it frequently enough.
–Haley said that her parents were Indian immigrants who came to the U.S. legally and are “mad” that the U.S. doesn’t better patrol its southern border.
—She said that the country should never “close schools again, no matter what” following the COVID-19 closures.
–Haley called for a “mental competency test” for politicians over the age of 75. She didn’t explain what that would be. (Donald Trump is 76 and Joe Biden is 80. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is 89). 81-year-old Bernie Sanders, the Independent U.S. senator from Vermont and former presidential candidate, has called Haley’s mental competency test proposal “absurd.”
–Haley said that Congress needs to spend less and cited the country’s $31 trillion debt.
–She also called Governor Kim Reynolds “the best governor in the country. Hands down.” Reynolds, who introduced Haley at the event called her “my friend” and said that it would be a “big mistake” to underestimate Haley’s presidential campaign.
One topic that Haley may have to navigate through her campaign will be questions regarding her former boss, Donald Trump. Haley has had a number of positions regarding Trump. She initially opposed his 2016 presidential run and pledged to help Florida Senator Marco Rubio defeat Trump. But after Trump became president, Haley agreed to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Now Haley and Trump are running for the same job in 2024.
Gary Leffler, a social conservative activist from West Des Moines and 2022 congressional candidate, supported Trump in 2020. He asked, “Why should we vote for someone like you in the caucus versus perhaps someone like Trump?”
“Because,” Haley responded, “I don’t think that you have to be 80 years old to be in D.C. I really don’t. look President Trump is my friend. He was the right president at the right time. He came in and broke the things that needed to be broken. And he fixed them. And I was proud to serve in his cabinet. As dire a situation as this is, as much as all the media and everybody wants to talk about the past…We need to leave the status quo of the past in the past. We’ve got work to do.”
Afterwards, Leffler told WHO 13 that he wasn’t impressed with Haley’s answer and thinks that she will have to do a better job laying out the case that caucus goers should support her over a man who has already been elected president in the past and won a general election in Iowa twice.
On Tuesday, Haley plans a campaign event in Marion.