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Nikki Haley defends exclusion of slavery as cause of Civil War after backlash

Berlin, New Hampshire — Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley sought Thursday to defend past comments that did not mention slavery as a cause of the Civil War, after she received backlash on social media.

“I mean, of course, the Civil War was about slavery,” Haley said on The Pulse of New Hampshire Radio show “Good Morning NH with Jack Heath.”

“We know that… that’s the easy part. What I was saying is: what does this mean for us today? What does this mean? means to us today, it’s about freedom. That’s what it was about. It was about individual freedom. “It was about economic freedom, about individual rights,” he said. she declared.

“What was the cause of the Civil War in the United States? a male attendee asked Haley during a town hall Wednesday evening in Berlin, New Hampshire.

The former US ambassador to the United Nations seemed taken aback by the question and paused before responding.

“Well, don’t ask an easy question,” Haley joked. “I think the cause of the Civil War was basically how the government was going to operate, the freedoms and what people could and couldn’t do. What do you think was the cause of the Civil War?”

The interrogator – who later identified himself to reporters off-camera as “Patrick” – immediately fired back at Haley, saying he wasn’t the one running for president.

Haley tried to elaborate on her answer further, but still without mentioning slavery.

“I think it always comes down to the role of government and the rights of the people,” Haley said. “And I will always maintain that I believe government was designed to secure the rights and freedoms of the people. It was never meant to be all things to all people. Government does not need to tell you how to live your life. “.

When the voter asked Haley why she didn’t mention slavery in her response, she asked, “What do you want me to say about slavery?”

Haley said Thursday that she thought the questioner was “definitely” set up by Democrats to trip her up.

“The same reason he didn’t tell reporters what his name was, the same reason he went and showed the guy he was with the tweet that was posted after he did it” , Haley said. “We see these guys when they come in, we know what they’re doing.”

Haley’s exchange was met with some applause from the town hall audience. However, the criticism was almost immediate, with many taking to social media to respond, including President Biden, who tweeted late Wednesday night: “It was about slavery.”

“It’s not hard, condemning slavery is the baseline for anyone who wants to become President of the United States, but Nikki Haley and the rest of the MAGA GOP are choking on their words trying to rewrite history” , said Jaime Harrison, president. of the Democratic National Committee, in a statement to CBS News after the town hall.

The confrontation comes in the middle of Haley’s. growing momentum in New Hampshire, with the latest polls showing her ahead of former President Donald Trump, something no other Republican presidential candidate has been able to do in the Granite State. Earlier this month, it was approved by New Hampshire Republican Governor Chris Sununu.

Throughout her campaign, Haley defended South Carolina’s 2015 election. removal of the Confederate flag on the State House grounds during his tenure as governor. The deletion took place following the 2015 mass shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, where a white supremacist killed nine black people.

As part of her stump speech, Haley often tells the story of the moments leading up to the flag’s removal.

“50% of South Carolinians viewed the Confederate flag as heritage and tradition, the other 50% viewed it as slavery and hatred,” Haley told voters at a town hall in Spirit Lake, Iowa , at the beginning of the month.

“My job was not to judge either side,” Haley said. “My job was to make them see the best in themselves and move forward.”

Haley often argues to voters that “tone at the top matters” in bringing the country together on different and sensitive issues.

“We were able to bring down that Confederate flag,” she said in Spirit Lake. “We didn’t have riots, we had vigils. We didn’t have protests, we had hugs. And South Carolinians showed the world what strength and grace looks like. That’s how we do it.”

Jacob Rosen contributed to this report.

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