Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley is “clearly not ready for primetime,” the PAC backing former President Trump said Thursday, after she failed to mention slavery as the cause of the Civil War.
“Nikki Haley is struggling. Haley was unable to say that the Civil War was about slavery and thinks Dubuque is in New Hampshire,” the MAGA PAC wrote in a statement. “In fact, Haley is now claiming that the Civil War question was a ‘plant.’ The issue is her response, not the question. Haley is clearly not ready for primetime.”
The PAC’s response joins the growing chorus of critics from both sides of the aisle, who are calling out the former South Carolina governor for her remarks made during a town hall Wednesday night in New Hampshire.
A Granite State voter pressed Haley over what caused the Civil War, to which she said, “Well, don’t come with an easy question, right? I mean, I think the cause of the Civil War was basically how government was going to run, the freedoms and what people could and couldn’t do.”
Haley said it “always” comes down to the role of government, telling the crowd the U.S. needs to have “capitalism” and “economic freedom.”
The voter shot back, saying it was “astonishing” that she did not mention slavery while discussing the Civil War.
“What do you want me to say about slavery?” she asked.
“You answered my question. Thank you,” the voter responded.
In the wake of criticism on Thursday, Haley attempted to clarify her remarks, saying, “Of course the Civil War was about slavery.”
“That’s the easy part of it. What I was saying was what does it mean to us today? What it means to us today is about freedom. That’s what that was all about,” Haley added in a New Hampshire radio interview.
She later suggested the voter who asked her the question was a “Democrat plant,” which drew the ire of several political strategists and commentators who argued candidates should be prepared to answer those types of questions.
Fellow GOP contender Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s campaign also spoke out against her remarks, posting the video of Haley online with the word, “Yikes.”
Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), a supporter of Trump, slammed the remarks, writing on X, formerly Twitter, that the answer was “slavery, period.” Donalds said Haley’s comments wouldn’t ultimately matter because Trump would be the GOP presidential nominee.
The remarks could spell danger for her campaign, just as she appeared to make headway in New Hampshire, which will hold its GOP primary in less than a month.
Trump has a 17-percentage-point lead over Haley in New Hampshire, but the size of the gap has fallen in the past month, according to a polling index by Decision Desk HQ/The Hill. On Dec. 6, Haley trailed Trump by 27 percentage points.
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