Nikki Haley pledges for transparency

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley at the town hall in Concord on Friday

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley at the town hall in Concord on Friday SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN—

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley at the town hall in Concord on Friday

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley at the town hall in Concord on Friday SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN—

Phenix Hall in Concord packed with voters at Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley’s town hall on Friday

Phenix Hall in Concord packed with voters at Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley’s town hall on Friday SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN—

Delia Barry, a registered nurse in Concord with a sign supporting Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley at the town hall on Friday in Concord

Delia Barry, a registered nurse in Concord with a sign supporting Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley at the town hall on Friday in Concord SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN—

Phenix Hall in Concord packed with voters at Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley’s town hall on Friday

Phenix Hall in Concord packed with voters at Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley’s town hall on Friday SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN—

SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN—

SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN—

SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN—

By SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN

Monitor staff

Published: 12-29-2023 4:20 PM

Nikki Haley was asked a question that touched on the topic of race during a Concord town hall Friday morning, but it had nothing to do with the Civil War or the former South Carolina governor's earlier comments about its causes.

At the largest audience gathering for a series of candidate stops at Phenix Hall in Concord, Riyah Patel wanted to know how Haley would address the education gap brought on by COVID, particularly for refugee students.

“There was a gap between where they were supposed to be and their American-born peers that is only been exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Patel, the founder of New American Scholars, a nonprofit helping educate refugee students in New Hampshire. “I am looking at ninth graders who can’t read at a second-grade level. I’m looking at kids graduating high school who can’t do basic multiplication.”

Haley called for granting states autonomy in resource allocation to effectively tackle the issue.

“We started holding kids back instead of pushing them forward. We brought in their parents. We did a reading remediation plan when we set them up for success. We need to do that across our country,” Haley said about attempts to minimize achievement gaps in South Carolina.

With firsthand knowledge of working with refugee students, Patel largely agreed with Haley’s plan.

“I think that what she proposed about holding kids back is something that I feel that we need as refugee kids are getting placed based on their age or not their actual understanding,” said Patel, who has been asking every candidate this question.

Haley’s 40-minute address covered several issues, from immigration policies and military strengthening to healthcare, foreign relations, and energy.

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No one asked her about the Civil War or slavery. 

At a town hall in Berlin Wednesday night Haley was asked what she believed had caused the war — the first shots of which were fired in her home state of South Carolina. She talked about the role of government, replying that it involved “the freedoms of what people could and couldn’t do,” but never mentioned slavery.

A day later in North Conway, she clarified her answer. 

“We know the Civil War was about slavery,” she said. “But it was also more than that. It was about the freedoms of every individual. It was about the role of government.”

Haley went on to highlight that she advocated for the removal of the Confederate Flag that once flew in front of the South Carolina State House.

“Don’t let a child ride by the State House anymore and have someone feel pain because that’s why it’s up there. Take the flag, take the pole down,” Haley said about her motivation to address the issue as governor. “It’s the job of the leader to bring out the best in people and get them to go forward.”

Dele Tosh, a consultant who provides coaching for Black professionals, said he appreciated that Haley doesn’t take polarizing stances on most topics.

“As a person of color, I like that in her speech she seemed to have a central stance on different issues. The problem right now is it’s all in two extremes,” said Tosh. “I think women are better leaders.”

Haley emphasized her anti-abortion stance, but underscored the importance of not condemning those who hold opposing views, asserting the need to negotiate a middle ground in addressing the abortion issue

“You’re demonizing an issue that exists and is personal for every man and woman,” said Haley. “Our goal was how do we save as many babies as possible and support as many moms as possible.”

She pointed out that both parties have mishandled this issue – Democrats through fear and Republicans through judgment.

Delia Barry, a registered nurse in Concord asked Haley about her plans to address the nurse shortage in the country.

The best way forward is to educate more nurses to ensure that the services are good while keeping expenses reasonable, replied Haley.

“I think she hit the nail on the head with that,” Barry said. “She was talking about making it more competitive in regards to helping nurses because I see it firsthand how we're treated and how the shortage has really affected us and it directly impacts the patients

Haley touched on a wide range of topics in front of the packed house, which included people filling the balcony of the historic space.

The military should focus on advanced technologies such as cyber and artificial intelligence, hypersonic missiles, space exploration, and advanced submarine capabilities, she said.

Diverting attention and resources from gender pronoun classes in the military is essential, as she believes such initiatives are demoralizing. She also said the inclusion of biological boys in girls’ sports should be stopped, she said.

Throughout her speech, Haley continued to promise Granite Staters that she would tell them the “hard truth.”

Donald Trump was the right president at the right time, but chaos always followed, she said.

“You don’t defeat Democrat chaos with Republican chaos,” said Haley. “The only way that is going to happen is if we have a new generational leader that leaves the negativity and grievances of the past and moves forward with the solution.”