WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (WHO-TV) — To a crowd of roughly 500 Republicans, former ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said she has “a lot of reasons to come to Iowa” at the state party’s annual fundraising dinner.
“There are a lot of reasons why I love Iowa, but maybe the biggest reason is Iowa loves to elect bad*** Republican women,” Nikki Haley said to kick off her speech.
Haley — who is seen as a possible presidential contender in 2024 — did not shy away from her ties to former President Donald Trump. While she has expressed interest in running, she has said will not throw her hat in the ring if Trump decides to run for president again.
While Trump was frequently mentioned, his references fell far behind the number of times Republicans invoked President Joe Biden’s name, slamming the policies of his administration and Democratic-controlled Congress.
“Joe Biden has been a gift to every country that hates America and wants to hurt us. He’s the polar opposite of Donald Trump,” she said. “I saw firsthand as ambassador to the United Nations how Donald Trump put America first—sometimes in the most interesting of ways.”
Haley was quick to rebuke Trump after the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and has criticized him for challenging and not accepting the results of the 2020 election.
But Haley made no such mention of either things on Thursday, sticking to fond praise for her former boss — touting his administration’s policies and ‘America First’ approach.
The former South Carolina governor focused the rest of her keynote address around problems she said America is facing, and why she believes electing Republicans in 2022 will be the solution.
“America’s going down a slippery slope, and it’s time to stop. Once we open that door we will never be able to close it again. America must never become a socialist country,” she said. “…We’re not stopping until we take back the House and the Senate. And after that, this Republican Party and the American people will take back our country from Joe Biden and the radical left.”
Toward the end of the evening, Iowa GOP chairman Jeff Kaufmann asked Haley whether Iowa should remain its status as the first-in-the-nation for the presidential nomination process.
“I’m fine with Iowa being first in the nation as long as you keep South Carolina first in the South primary,” Haley said. “You mess with us, we’ll mess with you!” The crowd applauded and laughed along with Haley and Kaufmann.
Haley is spending three days traveling throughout Iowa to help Republicans raise money for the midterm races next year.