Nikki Haley Calls Voter Who Asked Her About Civil War a ‘Democrat Plant’

Haley appears to be in damage control after declining to say that slavery caused the Civil War at a recent town hall in New Hampshire.

Politics Nikki Haley
Nikki Haley Calls Voter Who Asked Her About Civil War a ‘Democrat Plant’

Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and supposed Republican party wunderkind running for president, found herself in hot water on Wednesday evening when she answered a voter’s question about what caused the Civil War and declined to talk about the role of slavery. “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. When the voter told her it was “astonishing” that she didn’t mention slavery, Haley asked, “What do you want me to say about slavery?” The voter then replied, “You’ve answered my question. Thank you.”

Early Thursday, while appearing on a local New Hampshire radio station, Haley seemed to be in damage control over the ensuing controversy. At one point in the interview, she referred to the voter who asked her about the Civil War as “definitely a Democrat plant.”

As for her initial refusal to talk about slavery as the key cause of the Civil War, Haley, in the wake of significant backlash, seemed to change her tune. “Of course, the Civil War was about slavery, that’s the easy part. Yes, I know it was about slavery. I am from the South,” she said. “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.” Indeed, what does it mean to us today, when many of our elected officials—including Haley— think “critical race theory” is bad and white supremacy isn’t real. In 2021, Haley said that any school that teaches so-called ~CRT~ should be defunded.

But Haley ultimately seemed less interested in offering meaningful clarification to her comments and more interested in pushing her “Democrat plant” conspiracy theory. Per the New Hampshire Journal’s reporting on the interview, Haley accused President Biden and the Democratic Party of “sending plants”—plural—to her town halls. “Why are they hitting me? See this for what it is… They want to run against Trump. In town halls, I answer every question, and they are planting questions there,” she said. I have to say, Haley is certainly bold to lean into this self-victimizing little narrative rather than own up to the fact that her initial refusal to simply name slavery was bullshit. But, hey, I respect that the term “Democrat plant” has a fun, whimsical little ring to it. And when you’re trying to cater to your racist base, unequivocally saying “slavery bad” is probably going to cost you. But blaming everything on Democrats never hurts.

The latest polling of the Republican field aggregated by FiveThirtyEight shows Haley behind Trump by around 50 points, and neck-and-neck with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for second. Speaking of DeSantis, he predictably chimed in to dunk on Haley. “Yikes,” DeSantis’ campaign wrote in the caption of a video splicing media coverage of Haley’s remarks. Of course, we are talking about the man who’s advocated for Florida public schools to teach that slavery had “benefits”—I’d personally sit this one out, buddy.

Frankly, the entire Republican field is competing to see who can out-dog-whistle the others and cater to as many white nationalists as possible while still clinging on to some degree of plausible deniability. Haley’s nonsense Civil War comments and her “Democrat plant” spin are just an extension of where the party stands today.

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