Haley, who served as UN ambassador under Trump, barely mentioned him Tuesday night as she leaned into foreign affairs, charging that the US is engaged in “a clash of civilizations” and “the bad guys think the good guys lack the will to win.”
She attacked Biden’s leadership, saying, “America is in greater danger today than we were just three months ago” and that “Joe Biden thinks retreat is a sign of strength.”
“Make no mistake. Our enemies are not just people with a different view about how best to govern. They are barbaric,” Haley said. “And now they’re done waiting. The fall of Afghanistan has every one of them thinking America’s era has ended and theirs has arrived.”
The former South Carolina governor, whose husband Michael Haley deployed with the US National Guard in Afghanistan for 11 months in 2013, called the Taliban victory in Afghanistan “a total disgrace that leaves America weaker in the world and less safe at home.”
“President Biden has thrown away what Michael and his military brothers and sisters fought for,” she said. “He’s thrown away what more than 2,300 Americans died for.”
‘That message was our message first’
Pivoting to domestic affairs, Haley said to applause that the “most important mission of our time is to stop our national self-loathing and to regain our courage and renew our convictions.”
Haley argued that Democrats no longer believe in America and offered her take on so-called cancel culture. Alluding to the Black Lives Matter protests and the debate over systemic racism and the removal of Confederate statues last year, Haley said progressives are denying the “massive progress” that America has made in becoming a more “colorblind” society.
After reading a quote from former President Barack Obama stating that “we are one American family,” Haley said Democrats have abandoned Obama’s “unifying message on race and national identity.”
“Republicans cannot make the same mistake,” she said. “That message was our message first. We must once again take it to the American people.”
Noting her own history as the first female and first minority governor of South Carolina, she said — as she often does in public remarks — that she has personally lived the American story and can attest that America is “not a racist country.” She recounted her decision to take down the Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina statehouse grounds in 2015, and said that America is still setting the standard for progress: “Where we lead, the world follows. When we speak, the world listens. What we are, the world wants.”
A chance to reset
The recent series of speeches at the Ronald Reagan Library have provided potential White House hopefuls an opportunity for a reset in the post-Trump era as they wrestle with how deep their criticisms of the former President should cut — often resulting in awkward contortions when they try to recalibrate later. Haley largely avoided that space on Tuesday night, a reflection, perhaps, of the blowback she got after chiding Trump’s conduct following the January 6 attack on the US Capitol and her subsequent walk-back of those comments.
Haley did not allude to the January 6 attack on Tuesday night, instead focusing on where she believes the Republican Party needs to go.
“Now is the time to remind our fellow citizens that America deserves our hard work and our love,” Haley said. “Students need to hear that message; businesses need to hear it; and we should take that message to communities where Republicans don’t go nearly enough.”
“We cannot ignore minorities and women,” she said. “The left is feeding them a false narrative about our country, and more often than not, it’s all they hear. It’s up to us to provide the truth about America. The sooner we lead a new awakening of patriotism, the quicker we’ll stop the decaying belief that our country is systemically racist.”