The week following former Governor Nikki Haley’s announcement she is running for president; Haley visits the early primary states New Hampshire and Iowa to campaign. This Week in SC’s Gavin Jackson follows her and talks with locals on their thoughts about Haley as a presidential candidate.
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Gavin Jackson: Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley is on the campaign trail in Iowa and New Hampshire right after her big Charleston announcement. Welcome to a This Week in South Carolina Special Report. I'm Gavin Jackson in Exeter, New Hampshire, where South Carolina's own, Nikki Haley held her first town hall here as part of her initial swing through the early voting state. Now, Haley spoke before these independently-minded voters about what she has to offer and made her initial introduction to them as well. We spoke to some of those voters, and we also heard from the former governor,
Fmr. Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC): - because we can talk about the problems all day, but it's time to stop talking about the problems and start fixing it. First of all, with our economy and what it means with inflation, stop the spending binge. I don't care what they say stop it. We do it in our households. We do it in our small businesses. We balanced the budget in South Carolina as governor, there's no reason D.C. can't figure out how to balance a budget. (crowd cheers)
Gavin Jackson: Retired Brigadier General Don Bolduc, an anti-establishment Republican who lost to Senator Maggie Hassan in 2022 gave his endorsement to Haley.
Retired Brigadier General Don Bolduc: That's why I would do anything to ensure and support her in every way. So if you supported me, and even if you didn't support me, I am asking you to support her. She is everyone's candidate. I don't care if you're a Republican, Democrat, Independent. She doesn't see you that way. She sees you as an American. She sees you as someone that she wants to serve. >> I'm looking forward to some change. I'd like to see some youthful ideas that I think the Governor Haley can give us. I think the party as a whole to move forward needs to include some new perspective.
Fmr. Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC): Here, they're trying to talk about gender in schools. There was all this talk about the Florida bill, the don't say gay bill. Basically what it said was you shouldn't be able to talk about gender before third grade. I'm sorry, I don't think that goes far enough. (audience applause) When I was in school, you didn't have sex ed until seventh grade, and even then your parents had to sign whether you could take the class and my dad wouldn't sign the thing. So I was the uncool kid in the back classroom that couldn't take sex ed. That's a decision for parents to make. That's not a decision for schools to make. (audience applause)
Matthew Coombes, New Hampshire Voter: The secret to New Hampshire politics as well as Iowa, where I worked there, you need to go to the pizza barns in Iowa. You need to come to the town halls in New Hampshire. She didn't - she wasn't I got to get out of here. She stayed till everybody in this place got their autograph got their picture, got to ask them a question why they were getting their picture, even if they couldn't do it publicly. She answered my questions and she showed compassion, not fake compassion, not "Oh, I feel for you". She said, I know people that died from the COVID vaccines, we have to protect these people. So I felt a connection with this woman tonight. So now I'm going to go tomorrow night. I wasn't planning on going. I'm going to take one or two people with me. I'm going to drag them with me. So, as long as she's like them, and she presses the flesh of people, and takes all the time they need, she'll start to shoot up. She will. She'll do very well, and you know, she'll be - she may be - there's been upsets here in New Hampshire she could beat Donald Trump, if she if she just does - Donald Trump's too big, unfortunately, to sign autographs, take pictures and do the town halls. If she does it. She could...beat Donald, and should keep staying compassionate and caring.
Zachary Moskovits, Brandeis University Student: I think she's a great candidate. I'm very excited for her run. I think. It's about time, we have a woman at the helm of our White House. I think she's very strong on fighting anti-semitism. She's made that very clear, stronger than any other Republican, or frankly, any other politician I've seen.
Fmr. Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC): So this war with Ukraine, it's not a war about Ukraine. This is about a war on freedom. And it's a war we have to win, because if Russia takes Ukraine, they've said Poland and the Baltics are next, and we're looking at a world war. And if Russia wins, you can bet China's going to take Taiwan. Iran's going to get the bomb and North Korea is going to have a field day. If they lose, it tells every dictator and enemy of the West. Don't mess with us. That's the key we have to do. Now what does that mean? That does not mean we send troops. It does not mean we write blank checks. What it means is we get together with those NATO countries and we say what are you going to do? What are you going to do? What are you going to do? And we all make sure they have the equipment and the ammunition to win that for themselves. That's what we do when it comes to Ukraine. (audience applause)
Chris Ryan, Host New Hampshire Today: Good Morning, New Hampshire, Today. I am Chris Ryan. Boston Bruins winners last night in Nashville with the Predators 5 to - I think this was a great time for Nikki Haley to announce We've been pining for who's going to be the first person to get in, because the there was a vacuum that was existing. Trump had announced back in November, he'd come here done a really brief stop. But there hadn't been any real candidate events. You look at the 250 people at Nikki Haley's event. Yeah, it was about her, but it was also about the fact that people are ready for the primary to begin, and there was a thirst for a candidate to get into the race. She filled that vacuum, and you know, I think that she is a candidate that a lot of people are going to look at very closely throughout the course of this contest. With about three minutes left, Mike Pompeo joined us on the show last week, and so did John Bolton, and both had negative things to say about you, individuals that worked with you, obviously, and Pompeo basically labeled you as being a quitter, and said that, you know, you left the UN at a time when you shouldn't have left, and left South Carolina and were governor and to go to the UN. What is your take from that? and why did you leave the UN?
Fmr. Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC): Add them to the batch of Don Lemon and Whoopi Goldberg. I'll tell you, Mike Pompeo. He's telling me I left the governor to go to the UN, he left Congress to go to CIA. There's literally no difference in that. Yet for me, I'm a quitter, but he's a patriot. Then the second thing is, look, I am not that Washington establishment person like he is. I don't think you have to stay forever. I believe in term limits. I put in eight full years of 24/7 time and I think you have to go in do your job, prove to the people you can do it and know when to leave. These guys know, I ran circles around them, and you know if this if they want to shoot at me, let them have at it. I proved to the American people what I was capable of. They saw at the UN what I did for them. They saw in South Carolina what I did for them. and I'll take Americans and South Carolinians all day long deciding what they think as opposed to guys like that.
Gavin Jackson: Hey, Corky, how are you? Thanks for making time for me today on a Saturday of all days. For a better understanding of running in a statewide race in New Hampshire. I spoke with Bryant "Corky" Messner, who challenged Senator Jeanne Shaheen and lost by 15 points in 2020.
Bryant "Corky" Messner, 2020 NH Senate Republican Nominee: The thing you got to understand about New Hampshire is over 40% of registered voters are we call them undeclared Independents. They are Independents, and so in order to be successful, in New Hampshire, you have to be able to connect with the with the Independents. Now, so you got about 30%, Republican, a little more Democrat. But the Independents are important, and in a primary, the Independents can go and register for the primary as a Republican or Democrat and vote in that primary. So and quite frankly, I think the reason that Governor Sununu does so well in elections in New Hampshire, is he's able to, to appeal to, to the Independents, and I will say this, it's certainly my opinion, that many, many, many of the Independents, I would say, you know, a substantial majority of Independents are in fact conservative leaning, and many of them are Libertarian.
Gavin Jackson: ...when you... talk about again, Unity versus maybe this heated rhetoric, you live in Florida, a good bet, you see what it's like down there. You see Ron DeSantis down there. How does his message his governorship style? How does that mesh with what we were talking about in terms of what New Hampshire folks in New Hampshire, want to hear and want to see from a candidate? Is he going to do well in New Hampshire with that kind of social issues that he's been pushing down there?
Bryant "Corky" Messner, 2020 NH U.S. Senate Republican Nominee: He's getting things done. He...takes action. He implements things and I think that'll play really well in New Hampshire now, you know, getting things done in the state of Florida versus getting things done in Washington D.C. are two very different things. The - I also think the cultural issues. I think, I think candidates need stay away from. I think the Libertarian bent amongst undeclareds and Republicans, they're Libertarian, and they believe that, you know, people ought to be able to do what they ought to do. Now, full stop, I think the school parent issue, you know, I think is a bit different. You know, I don't know that I would even call that a cultural issue, I think...that becomes a question of, you know...our children in school are there to be educated in English and math and history And foreign languages and science and that's where the focus ought to be, and cultural issues ought not be in school.
Gavin Jackson: Here at St. Anselm College in Manchester, the former UN Ambassador spoke at the premier venue for any presidential candidate, the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, for a crowd of about 300 people. People had time to ask her questions, pose for selfies, get autographs, and get to know the second Republican candidate in the presidential race.
Fmr. Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC): So first of all, not everybody hates you. They hate your school board. It's the school boards that we dislike, because the school boards are making you do things that we know, you know, you shouldn't do. Right now, look at the pressure we're putting on teachers. You're making them be the parent, the teacher, you're making them be the psychologist, the nurse, you're making them be the pastor, And you're telling them, Oh, teach to this test. And these students have to score at this level. And they have to worry about safety, and what they're going to do. Think about all that, and oh, by the way, you're not paying them much to do it. So how are we going to get new teachers going in, if they don't feel empowered? It really is an issue, that the second and my future son in law is a fifth grade elementary school teacher, and I will tell you, that in order for him to keep doing this, and in order for you to keep doing this, we have to have your back.
David Bacon, New Hampshire Voter: I'm here to learn and listen and, you know, I videoed these things. I'm going to watch at home and compare her speeches between the two nights. I'm going to see, like, okay, like you could tell like, there was an applause break where she thought she was going to get one and she didn't get it. Then there was another one. She got the applause And she wasn't expecting it. So it's interesting to watch. It's fun to watch that. I thought one of the most significant things was when the teacher said school shooting, Nikki immediately said, safety. So that's like that guy, who's the word guy? You know, Lutz. It's like a Frank Lutz line. Like, yeah, you don't want to mention school shooting. You want to go safety...
Gavin Jackson: During the question and answer portion of the town hall. Bacon shattered a question at Haley about record energy company profits. Here's their exchange.
Fmr. Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC): Who took advantage of the COVID thing?
David Bacon, New Hampshire Voter: The companies. The oil companies had the largest profits they've ever had just now.
Fmr. Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC): Do you know why?
David Bacon, New Hampshire Voter: Unintelligible.
Fmr. Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC): Biden does have problems. We agree on that. We agree on that. No, no, no, I know that. No, but let me tell you, first of all, do they have higher profits? Yes, we agree. We agree on that. We agree on that. The second... Hold on. It's all right. No. I love your passion. So, first of all, I agree with you that Biden's got problems. Second, I agree with you that those companies have the highest profits they've ever had. Third, I will tell you that my reasoning is the reason they've got the highest profits they ever had is because we don't have more of the energy sector open. Its supplying the demand, the more supply we have those prices go down, then they have to compete when we have competition among the energy sector, their profits level out. And more than that families don't pay those big prices. (company applause)
Barbara Thinnes, New Hampshire Voter: I was a teacher for 42 years. So, and, I haven't taught for a while, but I can't imagine that here in New Hampshire. There's that much going on. That being said, I'm not sure. But I think that a lot of the a lot of a lot of the emphasis on the CRT and all is probably is taking place in larger places, larger cities, larger states, you know, and I don't see that there's that much of it here. I like the way she wants to go back to basics, because that's what went wrong when we, when we went away from them, I feel. So yeah.
Bob Thinnes, New Hampshire Voter: The people in New Hampshire want normalcy as much as anything, because, you know, the way this country is going on it's kind of nuts. I mean, I think we need to bring common sense back. Republicans don't have all the answers. The Democrats don't have all the answers. But if you get people together, people of goodwill, we'll solve our problems. You know, this country is great and it's going to continue to be great.
Fmr. Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC): I will win. I just want you to help me get there because together me winning alone isn't worth it. us winning together is everything. Thank you very, very much. God bless you. I appreciate it. Thank you. (audience applause) Thank you. (audience applause)
Gavin Jackson: Haley left behind the somewhat snowy granite state after a successful first swing and kicked off the week in the Hawkeye State. Here in Des Moines, Iowa, Haley was once again greeted by a crowd of some 300 folks at her first town hall event, folks that take their roles as the first in the nation, caucus state for Republicans, seriously. And while Haley didn't secure any big name endorsements, she did receive a very hearty introduction by the popular Iowa Governor, Governor Kim Reynolds.
Gov. Kim Reynolds (IA-R): But here in Iowa, we are going to do it right. We are going to make sure that once again, the country knows why Iowa is first in the nation. They know that we are going to show them who we are. We are going to not only have the opportunity to test the candidates, we're going to give them the opportunity to test their message as they travel across the state of Iowa. And what's great about Iowa is they're going to have the opportunity to talk to Iowans who are knowledgeable about the issues. So it's a great opportunity to converse with Iowans. And voters are going to have the chance to learn a little bit more about the character of the candidates that are running. And so we want to make sure that we have somebody that's going to stand firm that will stand up, fight back and get this country back on track. Right? (crowd cheers)
Brianne Pfannenstiel, Des Moines Register: I mean, I think it signals to Iowa caucus goers that they should take this person seriously.
Gavin Jackson: That's Brianne Pfannenstiel, Chief politics reporter at the Des Moines Register, who's covered Reynolds' rise, her reelection last year, and the Iowa caucuses.
Brianne Pfannenstiel, Des Moines Register: Clearly, Governor Reynolds had an existing relationship with Nikki Haley that she was able to talk about. She was able to share personal details and really talk about what she knew of, of Nikki Haley, and not kind of just talking points that clearly came from her. And so I think that signals to Iowa caucus goers that they should give Nikki Haley a chance even in this big field of, you know, many potential candidates that we're expecting to see. Well, I think we're going to see all of you know, Iowa's top elected officials get involved at some level, right, I think they're really excited to welcome in these out of state candidates, show them around the state talk about the issues that are important to Iowans, you know, Iowans really enjoy this process, and so I think they're looking forward to that, you know, we'll see Tim Scott in this state, and I expect we'll see him with some elected officials as well, at the Nikki Haley event, a couple of our Congress members were there, there were a lot of local elected officials. So I think we'll see people, especially at this early point, they want to get out and see what all the fuss is about. So they'll definitely be at these events, if they're not, you know, taking private phone calls and having meetings on the side as well.
Rep. Mariannette Miller Meeks (IA-2, R): So I think what's important about Iowa as a state and being first in the nation in the caucuses is that this is an opportunity for anyone to be able to put their name on the ballot and come forward as a presidential candidate. you don't have to have a lot of money. You just have to be willing to put in the time and effort and the shoe leather to meet people. So, you don't have to have a lot of money. you don't have to be well established. And you don't have to be a known figure or name. You don't have to spend tons of money on TV advertising, whereas the primary states and I, although I love South Carolina, you know, as a state being first in the nation, on the Democrats, slate, you know, you have to be well established, you don't get the same vetting through a TV commercial that you do for meeting people face to face, you don't get the same questions, and you really don't get a sense of is that person authentic? You know, is what they telling you something that you just want to hear? Or is that truly what they believe in, and you have to have a lot of money to do TV advertising. You just don't get a sense of who a person is from a TV advertisement than you do if they come to your door. Or if you're at you're with them at a meeting asking them what they believe in and what they're going to do.
Fmr. Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC): When we speak, the world listens. What we do, the world follows. Who we are, the world wants to be. Now we got to do it one more time. And let me tell you, you know, the one thing we need. The one thing I need you to commit to, is we need to send a bad*** Republican woman to the White House. (audience applause)
Gary Leffler, 2022 IA-3 Republican Candidate: Why should we vote for you in the caucus, instead of perhaps someone like Trump?
Fmr. Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC): Because I don't think you have to be 80 years old to be in DC. I really don't. (audience cheers and applause) President Trump is my friend. I think he was the right president at the right time he came in he broke the things that needed to be broken, and he fixed them and I was proud to serve in his cabinet. But we as dire of 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 in the past in the past. We've got work to do. We've got to look forward We've got to figure out what we're going to do for America, this is bigger than a person. This is bigger than a person and we need to fight for that and so what I'm telling you is, we need to make sure that we've got the energy, the power and the ability to bring more people in, that will see that our solutions are the right ones, because we believe in lifting up everybody, not a select few.
Gary Leffler, 2022 IA-3 Republican Candidate: Really, my - I have the people from the Trump campaign, they call me, because I own America's most popular tractor, one that the governor has been on before. And, you know, there's just been some things that he has not - just a little intrepid about some of his decisions lately. There is a door there is an opening here. And it's going to be exciting to see what person comes to Iowa and says, You know what, I'm going to open that door a little bit wider and see what Iowa does. Did she give a compelling reason for me not to vote for Trump and to vote for her. She opened the door. There's a there's a crack in the door. But I think she could have opened the door even further than what she did.
David Oman, Former IAGOP Co-Chair: I'm one who believes strongly that we cannot have a repeat of 2015 and 2016. At one point, we had 17 people running, Ben Carson, Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina, and 14 Caucasian males, and not all of them even made it to caucus time, let alone through the caucus on to New Hampshire, I hope we have a much smaller field that will really define who the best candidate is and send those people forward. If we want to re-elect, re-nominate Donald Trump, a big field will help him. If we want to give somebody a chance and maybe have an alternative for Donald Trump, not a third term, then we can probably only see about four or five, six, maybe seven people and after Iowa, maybe that number gets cut in half. I know what we're also looking for somebody who can actually put the party together, who has ideas and a forward vision that can draw independence to our ticket in a couple of years. And by the way, who would also be a really good president, work with Congress work with the governors, and around some good policy ideas. Nikki Haley showed us tonight that she has that potential. So I think she'll leave here feeling good about her first stop. Now she just needs to come back, and back, and back and really meet people where they are. Listen to them. Answer their questions as she did tonight. And who knows in the shorter, smaller field? She could do well.
Donald Stifel, Iowa Voter: I just talked to her a minute ago. Like I said, I'm repeating myself, I'm 83 years old in a couple of months and I didn't like that she was going to limit the candidates. If you're going to have a competency test. Don't age discriminate. I'm just as competent as lots of 25 or 30 year olds. Mentally, I still play softball with a bunch of 50 year old guys, winter and summer. I don't like any sort of discrimination. Of course I'm more bias on the age, I suppose.
Audience Member: I'm wondering if you would consider President Trump as your running mate or vice versa. (crowd laughs)
Fmr. Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC): Alright, Bob think about that for a second. (crowd laughs) How well do you think it would go over if I called President Trump and said do you want to be my VP? (crowd laughs) Look, let me tell you, I, President Trump is my friend. I called him before I did this. We had a good conversation. He was the right president at the right time. He broke the things that needed to be broken. and he worked to fix them. The reason I'm running is we got to move forward. We got to move forward. We can't keep dealing with these issues in the past and I think that we need a young generation of leaders. I mean, look at Washington, DC, you will see me say all day long, we have got to have term limits in Congress. We've got to have them. (audience applause) And yes, we have to have mental competency tests for everyone over the age of 75. (audience applause) That's not personal. We've got seniors who can do many things. The reason why I'm saying that we need that is you should have transparency. Government's supposed to work for the people not the other way around. Bernie Sanders lost his mind because I asked for that. He's exactly the reason we need it. He's exactly the reason we need it. (crowd applause) Whoopi Goldberg lost her mind over it, and you know what you was doing? She was glorifying Dianne Feinstein and Maxine Waters. They're exactly the reason we need it. Why wouldn't you - anyone that says something is wrong with mental competency tests, tells you everything you need to know. It's about accountability. It's about doing things right. And if somebody passes it, great, they can serve. But I think that we've got to bring this new generation in. We've got too many problems to sit there and go with the stale status quo we have had for too long. Let's start to write the ship. Y'all have been very gracious. Go to Nikkihaley.com Go tell 10 people. God bless you. (audience cheers)
Gavin Jackson: Iowans welcomed former Governor Nikki Haley to the state the first declared presidential candidate to come through the Hawkeye State. But that doesn't mean other 2024 hopefuls aren't on her heels, including US Senator Tim Scott, who held two events in Des Moines on Wednesday, as it's just the beginning of a long race to the White House, which runs right through Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, and we'll be bringing you the latest as it develops. I'm Gavin Jackson in Marion, Iowa. Be well, South Carolina.