Takeaways From Nikki Haley's CNN Town Hall

She criticizes rivals Trump and DeSantis, though forum is less combative than most
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2023 6:49 AM CDT
Takeaways From Nikki Haley's CNN Town Hall
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley pumps her fist during a campaign gathering, Wednesday, May 24, 2023, in Bedford, N.H.   (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Nikki Haley took part in her own CNN town hall Sunday night, though her appearance doesn't appear to be getting anywhere near the attention of former President Trump's. Here are some of the takeaways from coverage of the former UN ambassador and South Carolina governor as she vies for the GOP nomination:

  • The tone: The forum was a "throwback to earlier, less combative times," writes Trip Gabriel in the New York Times. In fact, one of the Iowan audience members called her demeanor a "breath of fresh air," which drew applause. "But that also meant that there were few shoot-out-the-lights moments that could win Ms. Haley headlines and a new look from primary voters, who now face a growing field of Republicans who are in—or soon to enter—the race," writes Gabriel. She entered the town hall in the single digits in the polls, and it's unclear whether she did anything to change that narrative.

  • DeSantis, Trump: Haley criticized frontrunners Trump and Ron DeSantis a number of times during the forum, per Axios. For example, she said both were "not being honest with the American people" when it comes to the need to reform Social Security and Medicare. "I know that Trump and DeSantis have both said we're not going to deal with entitlement reform—well, all you're doing is leaving it for the next president, and that’s leaving a lot of Americans in trouble," she said. "We can't keep kicking this can down the road."
  • Ukraine: Perhaps her biggest split with the frontrunners came on Ukraine. She faulted Trump for taking a neutral stance on who should win and DeSantis for once referring to the war as a "territorial dispute," per Reuters. "For them to sit there and say that this is a territorial dispute—that's just not the case, or to say that we should stay neutral," Haley said. "It's in the best interest of our national security for Ukraine to win." Reuters notes this split may not necessarily help her with primary voters, given the "isolationist streak" prevalent among them.
  • Other splits: Referring to Trump and the Jan. 6 riot, Haley said: “He thinks it was a beautiful day. I think it was a terrible day. I’ll always stand by that," per CNN. And in regard to DeSantis' ongoing row with Disney: “All this vendetta stuff, we’ve been down that road,” she said. “Pick up the phone, settle it the way you should."
(More Nikki Haley stories.)

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