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Nikki Haley was asked what caused Civil War, did not mention slavery

Haley has been surging in recent polling in New Hampshire as she is well ahead of all GOP candidates not named Donald Trump.
Posted at 7:34 AM, Dec 28, 2023

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley is drawing criticism following a New Hampshire town hall Wednesday where a voter asked her the question, "What caused the Civil War?"

"Well, don't come with an easy question or anything," Haley said. "I mean, 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. What do you think the cause of the Civil War was?"

When challenged that her response did not include any mention of slavery, Haley responded, "What do you want me to say about slavery?"

The response instantly drew criticism from Jaime Harrison, chair of the National Democratic National Committee. 

"Not stunning if you were a Black resident in South Carolina when she was Governor," Harrison wrote on X. "Same person who said the confederate flag was about tradition & heritage and as a minority woman she was the right person to defend keeping it on state house grounds."

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Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy during a Republican presidential primary debate.

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On Thursday, speaking on "The Pulse of New Hampshire," she acknowledged the role the Civil War played. “Of course the Civil War was about slavery," she said. "We know that. That’s the easy part of it. 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.”

Recent polling has shown Haley firmly in second place behind former President Donald Trump in New Hampshire. According to a Dec. 20 Saint Anselm College poll, Haley is garnering support from 30% of likely GOP primary voters in New Hampshire. She trails Trump, who has 44%. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ranked third among candidates at 12%.