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Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley responded to leftist radio host and TV personality Charlamagne Tha God Wednesday after he pressed the Republican presidential candidate on why she doesn’t “play the identity politics game.”
Charlamagne questioned Haley, an Indian-American who is also the only female candidate in the Republican field, on why she doesn’t go along with the identity politics playbook so often used by Democrats.
“Why don’t you play the identity politics game, though?” Charlamagne asked Haley while guest hosting “The Daily Show.” “Because that’s something Democrats like to do. They always talk about how diverse they are. Why don’t you get into the identity politics game and play up being Indian more? Because a lot of voters just think you’re a white woman.”
Haley responded, arguing that identity politics divides people, while she wants to seek unity.
“We were the only Indian family in a small rural southern town in South Carolina. We weren’t white enough to be white. We weren’t black enough to be black,” said Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the UN. “And I remember when I would get teased on the playground and I would come home, my mom would always say ‘Your job is not to show them how you’re different, your job is to show them how you’re similar.’ And that lesson on the playground has played out throughout my life, whether it was in the corporate world, whether it was as governor, whether it was as ambassador.”
“I think the problem is when you start labeling people, you’re assuming that they’re different than you. I don’t want to just be a woman. I don’t want to just be Indian,” she added. “I don’t want to just be a mom. I don’t want to just be a Republican. I don’t want to just be all of those things. I’m more than that. And I think every person is more than that.”
Charlamagne pushed the issue further, claiming there is “sexism in the GOP” and asking Haley if she thinks being a woman hurts her chances at getting the nomination in the Republican Party.
“I don’t worry about being a woman at all,” she shot back. “I mean, I wear heels. It’s not for a fashion statement. It’s because if I get mad, you know, I’m ready to kick any time. And I think that people have always respected me because they know I do my homework, they know I fight for what I believe in and I tell the truth. I tell the hard truths whether they want to hear it or not. And I think that’s where I’ve always been different.”
Haley has brought up her female status and Indian background during her presidential campaign but says there’s a difference between falling into identity politics and being “proud” to be an Indian-American woman. In the first GOP presidential debate in August, the former South Carolina governor threw herself into a back-and-forth between former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy on climate change.
“This is exactly why Margaret Thatcher said, ‘If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman,’” Haley quipped.
Haley also came out with a book last year titled: “If You Want Something Done: Leadership Lessons from Bold Women” Earlier this year, the presidential candidate told independent journalist Bari Weiss that she was not accepting “identity politics” by bringing attention to her female or Indian identity.
“It’s just loving who you are,” she said. “I love being a woman. I love my heritage. I love how I was raised, and I love how it has made me who I am today. Identity politics is when you divide people based on what you are. I’m not dividing people based on what I am. I’m trying to show people that we are all more similar than we are different.”