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U.S Election

When Haley Dodged the Slavery Question, She Put Her Coalition at Risk

Author: Jonathan Weisman and Jazmine Ulloa Source: N.Y Times
December 28, 2023 at 22:13
As governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley removed the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the State Capitol in the wake of the Charleston church shooting in 2015.Credit...Nick Rohlman/The Gazette, via Associated Press
As governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley removed the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the State Capitol in the wake of the Charleston church shooting in 2015.Credit...Nick Rohlman/The Gazette, via Associated Press

Nikki Haley’s avoidance of mentioning slavery as a cause of the Civil War, which she walked back on Thursday, threatened to dent her crossover appeal.

Prominent Democratic donors, anxious about the increasingly authoritarian language of Donald J. Trump, have been calling on Democratic voters and independents to thwart the former president’s comeback by voting for Nikki Haley in open Republican primary elections.

But Ms. Haley’s political gaffe on Wednesday night, when the presidential hopeful and former governor of South Carolina stumbled through the causes of the Civil War with no mention of slavery, may make that appeal considerably harder just as she is edging closer to striking distance of Mr. Trump in New Hampshire.

Ms. Haley on Thursday walked back her answer about the causes of the Civil War, telling a New Hampshire interviewer, “Of course the Civil War was about slavery.”

Her retreat came about 12 hours after a town-hall meeting in Berlin, N.H., a state that is central to her presidential ambitions, where she was asked about the Civil War’s origins. Her answer focused on government overreach and “the freedoms of what people could and couldn’t do,” after she jokingly told the questioner he had posed a tough one. He then noted that she had not uttered the word “slavery.”

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