Haley then praised Trump’s approach to foreign policy, saying she “saw with her own eyes as an ambassador to the United Nations that Donald Trump put America first” and telling a humorous story about Trump’s decision to call North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un a “little rocket man.” saying it showed how the former president had “a way of attracting people”.
The remarks represent a pause for the former Trump cabinet member, who has hesitated in her approach to Trump as she tests presidential waters after her defeat. The initial struggle to calibrate his stance on Trump has placed Haley between those in the GOP who are eager to leave Trump and those who want to stay by his side.
It began a day after the siege on Capitol Hill, when Haley gave a speech to officials of the Republican National Committee in which she said the then president’s actions in the aftermath of the 2020 election “will be judged harshly by the ‘history”.
The former ambassador went further in an interview published by POLITICO Magazine a few weeks later, claiming that Trump had “lost all sort of political viability” and that she no longer believed he “was going to be in the picture”, before adding: “It has fallen so far.”
The remarks infuriated those in Trump’s orbit who saw them as an act of disloyalty and part of an effort to seek to distance themselves from the former president. In February, Trump turned down a request by Haley to meet at his Mar-a-Lago resort.
Since then, Haley has been warmer towards Trump. In April, she said she would drop a 2024 presidential candidacy and back Trump if he ran.
Haley’s 30-minute pre-dinner speech to the Iowa GOP 500 comes as she embarks on a three-day swing across the state. The former governor of South Carolina is hosting fundraisers for Governor Kim Reynolds and two members of the state congressional delegation, Reps Randy Feenstra and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, all running for re-election next year . She also organizes events with former State House President Linda Upmeyer and the Story County GOP.
The trip is Haley’s first to Iowa this year and comes as several other potential Republican presidential candidates make appearances in the state. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton will headline an event in Sioux City later this month, and former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is all expected to appear at the Head of Households Summit next month, a gathering that will draw evangelicals from across the state. Two other potential candidates for 2024, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott and Florida Senator Rick Scott, visited the state earlier this year.
During the speech, Haley embraced the cultural issues that currently drive the Conservative base. She protested against teaching in schools that systemic racism is ingrained in society, accused Democrats of “strong arms.[ing] big tech, big business and big government to silence anyone who doesn’t respect the liberal line ”and criticized the opposing party for supporting“ riots and anarchy ”.
Haley also offered a glimpse of how she might stand out in a presidential contest in 2024: as a Republican of diverse origins. The former ambassador called herself “the proud daughter of Indian immigrants” and said that growing up she was “a brunette girl in a black and white world”.
“Believe me, South Carolina’s first woman and minority governor,” Haley said. “I said it last year at the Republican national convention, and I will continue to say it: America is not a racist country. Quite the contrary. America has done more to guarantee the equality of justice and opportunity than any other country in history. “
Haley, who has not spoken explicitly about his candidacy for president in 2024, also weighed in on a sensitive question for Iowan: whether the state should retain its status as the first country.
After her speech, Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann took to the floor to ask Haley if she supports keeping Iowa at the top of the presidential nomination calendar. Haley said she was “okay” with keeping Iowa first, as long as her home state, South Carolina, maintained its status as the first southern state to hold its nominating competition.
“You’re laughing at us,” she joked, “and we’re going to laugh at you. “