WEST OF THE MONKS, Ia. “There are a lot of reasons to come to Iowa,” former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said Thursday outside a room packed with Republicans.
“But maybe the main reason is that Iowa likes to elect badass Republican women,” she said to applause.
Apparently Haley was talking about women like Republican Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, US Senator Joni Ernst, and US Representatives Ashley Hinson and Mariannette Miller-Meeks. But Iowa’s propensity to elect Republican women could come in handy as Haley, South Carolina’s first female governor, is considering a possible presidential run in 2024.
About 500 Republicans gathered at the Ron Pearson Center in West Des Moines for the Iowa Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Dinner where Haley gave the opening speech. It was a hot night more than two years before the next presidential caucuses, but the quiet hum of political speculation still hummed like summer cicadas.
Haley acknowledged the possibility of a presidential campaign, saying she would not run if former Republican President Donald Trump applied for the job. And his early presence in the nation’s premier state caucus underscored that possibility.
In addition to her speech on Thursday, Haley spent her time in Iowa helping out other Republicans in Iowa in a parade of appearances and fundraisers. The side events will help Iowa Republicans build excitement ahead of the 2022 election. But it’s also an important practice for future presidential candidates who can capitalize on those connections and goodwill during a future caucus.
Despite the handful of domestic political journalists in attendance – all with a view to 2024 – Haley remained relentlessly focused on 2022 throughout her speech, only briefly hinting at what might follow.
“In 2022, we will not stop until we take over the House and the Senate,” she said. “And after that, this Republican Party and the American people will take our country back from Joe Biden and the radical left.”
Haley’s visit is just one of the few first steps for potential Republican presidential candidates so far this year. Former US Sec. of State Mike Pompeo has visited Iowa before, and he will return next month to speak at a forum hosted by conservative Christian organization The Family Leader. He will be joined by South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and former Vice President Mike Pence.
Although National Democrats have rekindled their calls to restructure the presidential nomination process and replace Iowa in the front line, Republicans have not indicated they have such plans.
Iowa Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann asked Haley in a question-and-answer session after her speech what she thought about maintaining Iowa’s first nation status.
“I’m okay with Iowa going first in the country as long as you keep South Carolina first in the Southern Primary,” she said. “Are you kidding us, we’re going to fuck you!” “
America is a ‘work in progress’, not inherently racist, says Haley
During her speech, Haley said Republicans know America is “a work in progress,” but said Democrats wanted to roll back the country – especially on issues of race.
Haley drew acclaim when she condemned the teaching of “Critical Race Theory,” a decades-old legal theory that examines how the legacy of slavery continues to influence American society. It has proven particularly confrontational in recent months, with conservatives claiming it teaches children to hate their country while Democrats and academics argue it is a valuable framework for understanding concepts such as the institutional racism.
► More on critical breed theory:What is it and how does it relate to the Iowa Diversity Training Bill?
“From the classroom to the boardroom, the left says our country is rotten to the core. They claim America is racist, ”Haley said. “Believe me, South Carolina’s first woman and minority governor: they’re wrong. “
Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, said her family history proves America’s promise.
“My parents moved to a small southern town of 2,500 people and two red lights,” she said. “My father wore a turban. My mother wore a sari. I was a brunette girl in a black and white world. No one knew who we were, what we were or why we were there. But we did know. We were there because America is the best country the world has ever known. And every day we have seen America get even better. “
Haley also spoke out against socialism and increased government spending under the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden.
“It’s no relief in a pandemic,” she said. “This is a liberal wish list. To call it relief is an insult to hardworking Americans in dire need of help. “