DeSantis, Ramaswamy Respond To Haley’s Remarks On Slavery And The Civil War
Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy (R) speaks to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis following the second Republican presidential primary debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, on September 27, 2023.
ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Two Republican presidential candidates criticized former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Thursday for remarks that she made this week about slavery and the Civil War.

Haley, who is also running for president, faced backlash Wednesday night after she answered a voter’s question on the cause of the Civil War without mentioning slavery.

“Well, don’t come with an easy question, right?” Haley said. “I think the cause of the Civil War was basically how government was going to run. The freedoms and what people could and couldn’t do.”

Haley then asked the voter what he thought was behind the deadliest war in American history, to which he responded, “I’m not running for president.”

Haley then added, “I think it always comes down to the role of government and what the rights of the people are. And I will always stand by the fact that I think government was intended to secure the rights and freedoms of the people … We need to have capitalism. We need to have economic freedom. We need to make sure that we do all things so that individuals have the liberties so that they can have freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to do or be anything they want to be without government getting in the way.”

The voter wasn’t impressed with Haley’s answer, however, and slammed her for not mentioning slavery in her response.

“Thank you. In the year 2023, it’s astonishing to me that you’d answer that question without mentioning the word ‘slavery,’” he said.

“What do you want me to say about slavery?” Haley shot back before moving on to the next question.


On Thursday morning, Haley was on local New Hampshire radio shows to comment on the town hall Q&A and the answer she gave on the Civil War.

“Yes, we know the Civil War was about slavery,” Haley said. “But more than that, what’s the lesson in all this? That freedom matters. And individual rights and liberties matter for all people. That’s the blessing of America. That was a stain on America when we had slavery. But what we want is never [to] relive it. Never let anyone take those freedoms away again.”

Haley also said the person who asked her the question at the town hall was a “Democrat plant,” adding that she is facing heat because Democrats want to run against former President Donald Trump.

“Why are they hitting me? See this for what it is… They want to run against Trump. In town halls, I answer every question, and they are planting questions there,” said Haley, according to the New Hampshire Journal.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis responded to Haley’s “incomprehensible word salad” while on the campaign trail in Iowa, saying that it showed she “is not a candidate that’s ready for primetime.”

“And she’s gotten a pretty free ride from a lot of the corporate press,” DeSantis said. “The minute that she faces any type of scrutiny, she tends to cave and I think that that’s what you saw yesterday. Not that difficult to identify and acknowledge the role slavery played in the Civil War, and yet that seemed to be something that was really difficult. And I don’t even know what she was saying.”

“I know she’s trying to clean it up. I know she’s tried to blame a Democrat plant,” he continued. “I mean, you’re gonna get asked a lot of tough questions — that’s just the nature of this business. And I think that she showed time and time again that when the lights get hot that she will wilt under pressure, and that was a good example last night.”

Asked what his answer would be to the question Haley got, DeSantis answered, “You have the issue of slavery; you have the states that were concerned about Lincoln interfering and potentially eliminating it and they viewed it as a states’ rights issue, not as a federal issue and they were concerned that you have this Republican president, may come in and get rid of the institution of slavery. It’s interesting because the Republican Party was founded to put a stop to the growth of slavery in this country and the abolition of slavery was, to this day, remains the party’s top achievement. And it was a partisan achievement because the people that were fighting Lincoln, the people that wanted to preserve slavery, they were Democrats. And so the Republican Party did that, and that’s something that you should acknowledge and be proud of as a Republican.”

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy responded to Haley’s remarks in a series of posts on X, writing: “The shocking part isn’t that Nikki failed to mention slavery. It’s that she failed to mention the 10th amendment. When you try to be everything to everyone, you’re nothing to anyone. A perfect puppet for the corrupt establishment.”

Ramaswamy also highlighted when Haley asked what the questioner wanted her to say about slavery.

“I think she mistook him for a Super PAC donor,” Ramaswamy said.

“Turns out Nikki knows as little about the Civil War as she does about the Ukraine War,” he added. “But whatever war it was, I’m sure she’s in favor of it. 💵”

Zach Jewell contributed to this report.

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