Former U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley came out swinging on several issues during the first Republican presidential debate on Wednesday, calling out her fellow Republicans for high inflation and defending America’s relationship with Israel.
The former South Carolina governor vigorously pushed her policies on foreign relations and abortion as candidates tried to break out from a crowded Republican 2024 primary field.
“I don’t care about polls. What I care about is telling the American people the truth,” she said towards the beginning of the debate in response to a question on her poll numbers.
Haley then addressed the country’s high inflation, saying Republicans and the Trump administration contributed to the situation.
“The truth is that Biden didn’t do this to us. Our Republicans did this to us too when they passed that $2.2 trillion COVID stimulus bill,” she said.
Later, in a heated back-and-forth with Vivek Ramaswamy, a tech entrepreneur and political newcomer, Haley slammed Ramaswamy on his foreign policy views.
Former Ambassador Nikki Haley slams Vivek Ramaswamy at the GOP debate on Ukraine and foreign policy:
“You are choosing a murderer over a pro-American country … You would make America less safe. You have no foreign policy experience and it shows. It shows.” pic.twitter.com/NRilZGZf7G
— The Recount (@therecount) August 24, 2023
“You have no foreign policy experience and it shows,” she said, adding that America would be less safe with Ramaswamy as president.
“A win for Russia is a win for China,” Haley said. “We have to know that. Ukraine is the first line of defense for us. And the problem that Vivek doesn’t understand is he wants to hand Ukraine to Russia, he wants to let China eat Taiwan, he wants to go and stop funding Israel. You don’t do that to friends. What you do instead is you have the backs of your friends.”
“Putin has said once Russia takes Ukraine, Poland and the Baltics are next. That’s a world war. We’re trying to prevent war,” she said.
Haley accused Ramaswamy of “choosing a murderer over a pro-American country.”
She added on Israel that “it’s not that Israel needs America, America needs Israel.”
Ramaswamy hit back with a jab of his own, saying he wishes Haley well on her “future career on the boards of Lockheed and Raytheon.”
Haley also sparred with former Vice President Mike Pence during the debate over future abortion legislation in Congress.
“To be honest with you Nikki, you’re my friend, but consensus is the opposite of leadership,” Pence said, adding that he would support a federal ban on abortions after 15 weeks.
Haley told Pence to “be honest with the American people” on a federal abortion ban because “we haven’t had 45 pro-life senators in over 100 years, so no Republican president can ban abortions any more than a Democrat president could ban all those state laws.”
At one point in the debate, Haley gave a nod to her status as the only woman on the debate stage.
She quoted Margaret Thatcher as saying, “If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.”
Eight GOP presidential candidates took the stage Wednesday night in the first Republican primary debate, which was hosted by Fox News.
Former President Donald Trump, who has a strong lead in the polls for the Republican nomination, skipped the debate and instead did an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, which was released on X, formerly known as Twitter, just minutes before the debate began.