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Nikki Haley: The Next President of the United States?

Nikki Haley in the Oval Office. Image Credit: White House.
Nikki Haley in the Oval Office. Image Credit: White House.

OXON HILL, Md.—Nikki Haley made her pitch for a new generation of leadership in remarks Friday to conservatives gathered just outside the nation’s capital

This change is imperative for standing up to China and other enemies abroad, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said. 

“China thinks the American era has passed. So do all our enemies,” Nikki Haley, also a former governor of South Carolina, said in her speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC.

“But they’re wrong. America is not past our prime. It’s just that our politicians are past theirs,” Haley said. “Americans deserve better than how we’re living today. I’m confident we can take our country to her best days.”

With the “past our prime” remark, Haley adroitly referenced the dust-up caused by CNN pundit Don Lemon when he asserted recently that Haley “isn’t in her prime, sorry.” 

“Now Don Lemon didn’t seem to like that. He claimed I’m not in my prime. I responded, ‘Hold my beer,’” Haley joked to the CPAC crowd. “I’m 51. That’s younger than Don Lemon. It’s also younger than Hunter Biden. And it’s 30 years younger than Joe Biden.” 

America’s future still can be strong, the former U.N. ambassador said. 

“When I look to the future, I see our country rededicated to freedom and opportunity,” Haley said. “But when I look at the present, I see the opposite.”  

She went on to criticize President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats, particularly Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

“Joe Biden and the Democrats are giving us oppression, poverty, and lawlessness,” Haley said, adding:

“This is not the America that called to my parents over 50 years ago. And make no mistake: This is not the America I will leave to my children.

The Democratic Party is now a socialist party. Bernie Sanders and AOC are at least honest about it. Look at how much taxpayer money Biden has wasted since he took office. On Joe Biden’s watch, we hit $31 trillion in national debt. He’s put us on track to add $20 trillion more in the next 10 years.” 

But Haley also talked about the need for Republicans to make a stronger case to the public, noting that the GOP candidate lost the popular vote in seven of the past eight presidential elections going back to 1992. The exception: 2004. 

“Our cause is right, but we have failed to win the confidence of a majority of Americans,” Nikki Haley said. “That ends now. If you’re tired of losing, then put your trust in a new generation.” 

Haley was governor of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017, when she became the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. during the Trump administration.

Haley said heads in the liberal media “are exploding” about her just-announced campaign for president.

“We all know why,” she said. “The media can’t stand that I’m a conservative. Think about it. I’m a woman—a minority—and the daughter of immigrants. I am proof that liberals are wrong about everything they say about America.” 

CPAC, the largest annual national gathering of conservative activists, ran through Saturday at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, just outside Washington in the National Harbor development of Oxon Hill, Maryland.

Fred Lucas is chief news correspondent and manager of the Investigative Reporting Project for The Daily Signal. Lucas is also the author of “The Myth of Voter Suppression: The Left’s Assault on Clean Elections.” This first appeared in the Daily Signal. 

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Fred Lucas is chief national affairs correspondent for The Daily Signal and co-host of "The Right Side of History" podcast. Lucas is also the author of "Abuse of Power: Inside The Three-Year Campaign to Impeach Donald Trump."