Some of those on the receiving end were unexpected: former President Donald Trump, Republican lawmakers, the GOP voter base, those who oppose U.S. involvement in the Ukraine war, and even Clemson University football coach Dabo Swinney.
Haley’s question-and-answer session with Erickson capped the first day of the two-day conference at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead. She is one of six GOP candidates who accepted invitations to speak at the event.
Haley didn’t hold back in front of a friendly conservative crowd. She staked her case for president based on her experience as the governor of South Carolina and as a “body armor” wearing United States ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration. She labeled herself a “new conservative leader” who can give “new solutions” on big issues.
“We look so distracted right now, and when America is distracted, the world is less safe,” Haley said.
The wife of an Army National Guardsman, Haley put her hard-charging style on display. At one point, she issued a challenge to those in the audience, telling them the 2024 election will take courage from voters torn between GOP candidates.
“Don’t complain about what you get if you don’t play in this primary,” Haley said. “It matters.”
She also shared how her fearlessness extends to her passion for her college alma mater. She often sends game-day text messages offering advice to the Clemson Tigers’ Swinney because “he needs to hear it.”
Haley voiced a need for Republicans to heed a similar wake-up call. She considers GOP legislators as much to blame for America’s debt crisis and inflation as Democrats. She pointed to $7.4 billion worth of Republican earmarks in the 2024 federal budget, a number dwarfing the Democrats’ $2.8 billion.
“Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to see where up is,” she said. “We’re there.”