The establishment’s preferred candidate often comes across as insincere.
At a town hall event in New Hampshire Wednesday, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, insulted Iowans by suggesting that New Hampshire primary voters would have to “correct” the results of the Iowa caucus, scheduled for Jan. 15.
Then, when pressed to explain her insulting comment during a CNN town hall in Iowa Thursday, Haley first received a chorus of boos from the audience and then tried to laugh it off while, in fact, doubling down on the comment.
The controversy originated in a rah-rah moment typical of political campaigns.
“You know Iowa starts it. You know that you correct it. … And then my sweet state of South Carolina brings it home. That’s what we do,” Haley said Wednesday in New Hampshire.
In fairness — and as one might expect — Haley’s “you correct it” moment brought cheers from the New Hampshire audience.
Iowans, of course, had a different reaction, which meant that Haley had some ’splainin’ to do.
“Look, we’ve done 150-plus town halls. You gotta have some fun, too,” she said while waving her hands in a circle as if to emphasize that others need to lighten up about it.
Haley then argued that the people of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have a friendly rivalry. Those are the first three Republican caucus or primary states in the nation. Thus, their voters have a good old time mocking one another.
“New Hampshire makes fun of Iowa. Iowa makes fun of South Carolina. It’s what we do,” she insisted.
Finally, she blamed the entire controversy on the overly intense nature of politics.
“It’s just, like, too serious and too dramatic. If we’re having fun — I don’t live, eat and breathe politics all the time. I like to have fun, too. And so if I’m hanging out with 700 people, and we’re trying to make jokes and have a good time, like, you should be able to do that,” she said.
DeSantis War Room — obviously an ally of Haley’s campaign rival, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida — posted an 89-second clip of the crowd’s response and Haley’s answer Thursday on the social media platform X.
“Wow, Nikki Haley gets booed as she doubles down on mocking Iowa caucusgoers,” an accompanying tweet read.
Wow, Nikki Haley gets booed as she doubles down on mocking Iowa caucusgoers. pic.twitter.com/I8umQhGlde
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 (@DeSantisWarRoom) January 5, 2024
In short, Haley appeared inauthentic.
For one thing, in less than a minute, she twice noted that 700 people attended her New Hampshire event. Thus, the entire answer felt scripted. It seemed as if she had more interest in touting the size of her Wednesday audience than in speaking to Iowans Thursday.
Secondly, her “lighten up” message, whether sincere or otherwise, has little chance of landing. Whatever else one might think of the former governor, no one — not even her most ardent establishment supporters — regards her as the torchbearer for a new and more jocular brand of politics.
Thirdly, Haley has a recent history of appearing to tailor answers to what she thinks a questioner might prefer.
For instance, as governor in 2015, she signed a law that removed the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House grounds. She did this shortly after white-supremacist mass murderer Dylann Roof, who showcased the flag on social media, shot and killed 9 black parishioners during a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
In other words, she well understood the Confederate flag’s historical connection to slavery and racism.
Last week in New Hampshire, however, Haley delivered an evasive and foolish-sounding answer to a town hall attendee’s question about the cause of the Civil War. At no point during her rambling, minute-long statement did she mention slavery.
In fact, she gave the impression of trying to deliver an inoffensive answer rather than an honest one.
Thus, one never really knows what Haley thinks.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.