Salem, New Hampshire — Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley on Tuesday provided a small glimpse at her strategy for defeating the only other Republican to officially declare their 2024 candidacy: former President Donald Trump.
Speaking at a town hall event in Salem, New Hampshire, Haley indicated that her former boss has about a quarter of the Republican base in his corner, calling it a “hard 25%.”
“There are 75% other Republicans there that are looking for a place to be,” Haley responded when asked by a voter how she plans to defeat Trump. She added that she doesn’t plan to do “big rallies” on her campaign.
“You have to go and answer the hard questions,” Haley said. “You have to go face to face. You can’t fly in and fly out. And I believe the American people want you to earn their vote. I don’t think they’re gonna give it.”
Haley served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the Trump administration, resigning in 2018. Prior to that, she spent six years as governor of South Carolina. She argued that polls are fickle, noting two candidates who had failed 2016 campaigns: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
“The polls today will not be the same polls,” Haley went on. “They are a year from now. If you need examples, do I need to remind you about Jeb Bush? He had tons of money. Do I need to remind you about my friend Scott Walker? He was ‘Teflon Scott.’”
In 2021, Haley told the Associated Press she “would not run” against Trump if he sought the nomination. However, last month Trump disclosed that he encouraged Haley to run when she called to inform him she was going to announce her bid.
“I said, ‘You should do it,’” Trump told reporters in February. “I talked to her for a little while. I said, ‘Look, you know, go by your heart if you want to run.’”
Haley also remarked on Monday’s mass shooting at a private school in Nashville, Tennessee, in which six people were killed, including three young children.
“We don’t want to see that happen,” Haley said. “How much longer is this country going to ignore mental health? It is a cancer, and it is killing our kids.”
It marked Haley’s second set of comments on the massacre. At a town hall in Dover, New Hampshire, on Monday, Haley argued metal detectors are needed in schools.
“It’s okay if there are metal detectors,” Haley said. “There are those guests coming in and out. The kids see them in an airport, they see them wherever they go. Why don’t we do that to protect those kids?”
Nashville police have said that the shooter was armed with at least two assault-style rifles and a handgun.
“Everybody wants to talk about gun control,” Haley said. “My thing is, I don’t want to take away your ability to protect yourself until they do those things that protect those kids.”
— Aaron Navarro and Fin Gómez contributed to this report.
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