Haley campaign stop in Charlotte kicks off weekend of dueling rallies

GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley in Charlotte. March 1, 2024. Source: Zach Rounceville, Carolina Journal

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  • "Sixty percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Fifty percent of American families can't afford diapers. Something has got to give. Don't you think it's finally time we had an accountant in the White House?" - Nikki Haley, Republican presidential primary candidate.

Former South Carolina governor and Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley made a campaign stop in Charlotte on Friday ahead of the Tuesday, March 5 presidential primary in North Carolina. On Tuesday, 14 other states will hold presidential primaries, where 874 Republican delegates are at stake.

Charlotte is the first of two stops Haley is making this weekend, she will be in Raleigh on Saturday. As a closely-watched state in 2024, North Carolina is getting several high profile visits after Vice President Kamala Harris was in Durham on Friday and GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has a Greensboro rally on Saturday afternoon.

In Charlotte, Haley was introduced by South Carolina Congressman Ralph Norman, who threw his support behind her candidacy.

“You’re here supporting a great candidate,” he said. “I’ve known Nikki Haley since we came into the South Carolina legislature in 2005. Two words that come into mind when you talk about Nikki Haley: courage and determination. She has the courage to run for office and is a true conservative through and through. I don’t care what the media says. She is a true conservative through and through. She’s the kind of person you want to lead this country.”

Discussing a wide-ranging domestic and foreign policy agenda she aims to implement in the event she wins the Republican nomination and ultimately the presidency, Haley told supporters that fixing the US economy and federal budget will be top priorities.

“You look at the situation of where we are in this country. It’s tough right now. You don’t have to turn on the news to see it, you can feel it.,” she said. We are 34 trillion dollars in debt and we are having to borrow money just to make our interest payments. China owns some of that debt. For the first time, we are paying more for interest than we are for our defense budget. You know who owns that? Russia, China and Iran. Something has got to give.”

“You look at where we are. No one is talking about personal responsibility anymore,” Haley added. “You don’t hear Donald Trump talking about it, and you certainly don’t hear Joe Biden talking about it. Look, I would love to tell you that Joe Biden did that to us. But I’ve always spoken in hard truths and I’m going to do that for you tonight. Donald Trump and Republicans did that to us too. You look at that 2.2 trillion-dollar COVID stimulus bill they passed with no accountability. They expanded welfare which left us with 80 million Americans on Medicaid and 42 million Americans on food stamps. That’s one third of our country. “

Getting the economy back on track

In terms of remedying the lackluster US economy, Haley said she would advocate for putting federal funds to better and more efficient use.

“So how do we go about fixing the economy? The first thing we do is we claw back the 100 billion dollars of unspent COVID money that is still sitting out there,” Haley said. “Instead of 87,000 IRS agents going after middle America, we go after the hundreds of billions of dollars of COVID fraud. If 80% of our budget is interest, then quit borrowing, cut out the credit cards. You have to balance a budget every day. I had to balance a budget as governor. Why is Congress the only group that refuses to balance a budget? I will veto any spending bill that doesn’t take us back to pre-covid spending levels.”

She also talked about decreasing the number of federal programs in favor of more state-centric approach with a lessened tax burden on the middle class.

“We’ll take as many federal programs as we can and send them down to the state level,” she said. “If we cut those strings and send the resources down, then every state can handle it in their own way as opposed to a Washington bureaucrat deciding how to spend. Open up the middle class. Cut taxes on the middle class. Make small business tax cuts permanent.”

Addressing illegal immigration and drug trafficking

The former UN ambassador also touted her national security and foreign policy experience by detailing her plan to handle the massive influx of illegal immigrants crossing the southern U.S. border.

“Nine million illegal immigrants have come across the border,” Haley said. “We had enough fentanyl come across the border that would kill every single American. The number one cause of death for adults ages 18-45 is fentanyl. When I was governor, we passed the toughest illegal immigration law in the country. President Obama sued us over it and we won. We’ll take what we did in South Carolina and we’ll go national with it. We’ll do a national E-Verify where every business has to prove that the people they hire are in this country legally. We will defund sanctuary cities once and for all. We will go back to the remain in Mexico policy. Instead of catch and release, we’ll go to catch and deport.”

She then criticized former president Donald Trump for his lobbying against the recent bi-partisan border security bill put forth in large part by Oklahoma Senator James Lankford, a Republican.

Protecting alliances with foreign nations and making smart policy decisions are crucial as well, according to Haley, as she critiqued past statements and decisions by Trump and Biden.  

“We need someone who knows the difference between right and wrong,” she said. “We don’t need someone like Donald Trump who two weeks ago said that he would encourage Putin to invade our allies. Americans can never be so arrogant to think we don’t need friends. The number one job of a president is to prevent war and protect Americans. That’s it. If you go put your head in the sand like Joe Biden or go hide out and say you don’t need friends like Donald Trump, neither one of those works. You do it by building alliances and you do it by showing strength.”

At the rally, Carolina Journal spoke with Charlotte resident Mallory Finch, who shared her thoughts on Haley’s campaign.

“I think Nikki Haley is putting forth a really good effort in getting her name out there and communicating her values,” said Finch. “Her campaigning seems to be going well and I’ve followed her on social media. Whether this is her time or not I think she’s also set a good course for the future.”

Haley also stated that she has a better chance at beating President Joe Biden in the general election. A February poll conducted by SSRS showed Haley leading Biden by 13 points in a head to head matchup.

In order to catch Trump, Haley will need a large momentum shift. Currently, the former president holds a 122-24 delegate count lead heading into Tuesday’s primaries.