Even as the establishment wing of the Republican Party continues to coalesce around White House hopeful Nikki Haley, the former United Nations ambassador continues to turn off many GOP voters with a series of disappointing or confusing remarks.
Late last month, she offered an inartful take on the Civil War and her subsequent attempts to clean up the mess only added to the controversy.
Days later, she declined to provide a definitive answer regarding whether she would pardon Hunter Biden if she wins November’s election.
“I mean, I’m not even going to think about that,” Haley said. “I don’t even know what they’ve found him guilty on yet.”
When she showed up for a televised town hall event in Iowa earlier this week, there was ample pressure for her to deliver a coherent message to voters just days before the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses. Instead, many critics say she only left skeptical voters with more reasons for concern.
For starters, co-moderator Martha MacCallum brought up the developing scandal involving Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who kept his ongoing hospitalization a secret from the White House and his own deputy for several days last week.
When asked whether she believes, as GOP primary front-runner Donald Trump has asserted, that Austin deserves to be fired, she abruptly changed topics without providing a direct answer.
“I think [President Joe] Biden should be fired,” the former South Carolina governor replied. “This is unbelievable that we have a situation like this. When I had a crisis in South Carolina, if we were dealing with anything and I had to deal with my adjutant general, I was on the phone with him every day, twice a day. We have war in Europe. We have a war in the Middle East. North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States. China is on the march.”
Haley went on to cite her concerns about the current situation but steered clear of calling for Austin’s ouster.
WATCH: Nikki Haley says at Fox News Town Hall that “Biden should fired” over Defense Secretary hospitalization controversy, telling @BretBaier and @marthamaccallum: “This is unbelievable” pic.twitter.com/qx1daBz0eM
— TV News Now (@TVNewsNow) January 9, 2024
When co-moderator Bret Baier asked whether she agreed with the assessment of former U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) that Trump represents “a threat to democracy,” she similarly avoided a direct answer.
“I think the American people can decide this,” she said.
While Haley has gained some ground in early primary states including New Hampshire and her home state of South Carolina, the latest national polling average shows Trump with a nearly 50-point lead over her.