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On Tuesday, the field for the 2024 Republican presidential primary grew by one, as former South Carolina governor and UN ambassador during the Trump administration, Nikki Haley joined former President Donald Trump in declaring her candidacy.
Two things happened immediately, neither of which was a surprise to anyone. As we wrote, the mainstream media drew the long knives for Haley, including by the usual suspects like Politico and CNN. The other predictable event was a rapid attack by Team Trump, as my colleague Joe Cunningham wrote:
Yesterday, the Trump campaign attacked her as a “career politician” in a campaign email.
Taylor Budowich, head of Make America Great Again Inc., released the following statement Tuesday in response to Nikki Haley’s campaign announcement: “Nikki Haley is just another career politician. She started out as a Never Trumper before resigning to serve in the Trump admin. She then resigned early to go rake in money on corporate boards. Now, she’s telling us she represents a ‘new generation.’ Sure just looks like more of the same, a career politician whose only fulfilled commitment is to herself.”
But on Wednesday, the Trump campaign released a second email, this time exploding a scattershot of specific attacks at Haley:
The Real Nikki Haley pic.twitter.com/BcW8doC3rt
— Liz Harrington (@realLizUSA) February 15, 2023
The hits include calling out Haley for being “weak” on immigration, a supporter of former Speaker Paul Ryan’s proposals on Medicare and Medicaid, and “her calls for sending more military aid to Ukraine to stave off Russian invaders.” But the topline attack was this: “Hillary Clinton Is an Inspiration to Nikki Haley”:
In a 2012 interview with the New York Times, Nikki Haley said, ‘The reason I actually ran for office is because of Hillary Clinton.’
Since I know other writers will tackle the other topics in due time, I’ll concentrate here on the Hillary Clinton smear. Why? Because it’s purposely dishonest. Here’s how it read in a Politico piece published on Tuesday, titled “55 Things You Need to Know About Nikki Haley.” Point number 20 begins (emphasis original):
“The reason I actually ran for office is because of Hillary Clinton,” she told the New York Times.
This quote is completely out of context.
Here’s her full answer, in context, from the NY Times interview, published April 4, 2012: (emphasis mine)
Why are there so few women of your generation in high level politics?
It’s not because the challenge is too hard. It’s simply because women don’t run. The reason I actually ran for office is because of Hillary Clinton. Everybody was telling me why I shouldn’t run: I was too young, I had small children, I should start at the school board level. I went to Birmingham University, and Hillary Clinton was the keynote speaker on a leadership institute, and she said that when it comes to women running for office, there will be everybody that tells you why you shouldn’t but that’s all the reasons why we need you to do it, and I walked out of there thinking “That’s it. I’m running for office.”
Nikki Haley doesn’t hold the same political views as Hillary Clinton. She doesn’t admire Hillary Clinton. Everything she said here is apolitical and more about having confidence as a woman to tackle life’s challenges. But the Trump camp hopes that no one will check the interview the quote is pulled from and just swallow their implication that she modeled herself after Clinton. It should anger you, that whomever is running the campaign has such a low opinion of the intelligence of Donald Trump’s supporters.
As Bonchie said in his piece earlier about the media attacks, I’m not a fan of Haley’s, either. But with the 2024 primary season just getting underway, the level of discourse here is setting a very low bar. We’re better than this as a party–at least, we should be.
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