In August, Federalist columnist Eddie Scarry mocked former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley as “Hillary Clinton 2.0.”
Talk about a take that aged well. In the fall, the DeSantis campaign even began using prior footage of Haley admiring the former secretary of state to tie the two together. By Iowa caucus month, Haley’s comparison to the first major party female presidential nominee had become a popular meme on platform X.
On Monday, the former diplomat and two-term governor of South Carolina placed third in the Hawkeye state. Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis captured a distant second behind former President Donald Trump, who carried all but a single county in the caucuses without engaging in a single debate.
“Of all the terrible things about Nikki Haley,” Scarry wrote last summer, “her enthusiasm for more foreign war funding, her deference to corporate cultural assault — the cringe-worthy attempts to hype her status as a woman (A mom! A wife!) and Indian (“I’m a minority first!,” “I’m as diverse as it gets!”) are the least offensive. But it’s still really, really bad.”
Scarry has a point. After all, the former South Carolina governor opened her campaign with a message on identity politics. Haley’s launch video began with the candidate practically saying to voters, “Look how diverse I am!” There’s a reason the DeSantis campaign thought branding the two together would be so effective.
On the eve weekend of the first Republican caucuses, The New York Times ran coverage of the campaign, headlining that Haley “Has the Attention of Democrats and Independents.” The paper interviewed caucusgoers who were Democrats planning to support Haley in the Republican contest:
Heather Wilcoxson, 47, a Des Moines resident who works in the hotel industry, has been a registered Democrat for nearly her entire adult life — until December, when she switched her party affiliation to Republican. She plans to caucus for Ms. Haley on Monday, and said she had convinced several friends and members of her family to do the same.
By the end of the article, the Times reported that Wilcoxson “plans to switch her affiliation back to the Democratic ticket before the November election.”
“I most likely will vote for Joe, assuming he can keep it together during the political process,” Ms. Wilcoxson said.
While Haley draws comparisons to Hillary Clinton, the failed strategy of relying on Democratic voters to buffer low GOP support makes Haley sound far more familiar to another Republican warmonger who took on Trump.
Haley Is The Liz Cheney Of The Republican Primary
In August 2022, then-Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney suffered a humiliating defeat in her Republican primary race for a fourth term. Voters overwhelmingly backed Wyoming attorney Harriet Hageman for the state’s at-large seat, with Cheney kicked out of Congress by a 37-point margin. Had it not been for Democrat voters, however, courted by Cheney to change their registrations for the GOP primary, the incumbent congresswoman’s loss would have been with less than 20 percent of the Republican vote.
Of course, even as Cheney similarly captured the attention of Democrats and independents by coordinating Democrats’ 2022 Jan. 6 show trials, she never had a shot at earning their vote in a general election. Democrats soured on the Wyoming congresswoman and her presidential ambitions as the Jan. 6 Committee came to a close.
“We all came from prestigious jobs, dropping what we were doing because we were told this would be an important fact-finding investigation that would inform the public,” a former committee staffer told The Washington Post. “But when [the committee] became a Cheney 2024 campaign, many of us became discouraged.”
Hillary Clinton remains a heroine within the Democrat Party. Haley and Cheney are merely foils used by the Democrats to go after Trump.
Haley also has far more in common with Cheney regarding foreign policy. While Cheney used her recent memoir to cast her exile from the GOP as an outcome of her righteous crusade against “Orange Jesus,” their differing stances on foreign affairs went ignored.
It’s often underappreciated just how much Cheney’s representation of establishment neocons made her an outcast in the Republican Party. Before she joined the partisan Jan. 6 Select Committee, Cheney spread the bogus Russian bounties story claiming Trump ignored Kremlin dollar signs on the heads of American troops in Afghanistan. Cheney’s support for endless aid to Ukraine also sets her far apart from the majority of Republicans who say the U.S. has spent too much on the seemingly never-ending conflict.
Haley, meanwhile, has spent the Republican primary banging the war drums over China and Ukraine to the ire of GOP voters alienated by the candidate’s aggressive interventionist foreign policy. Haley and Cheney might run in Republican primaries, but their views on foreign affairs are incompatible with the GOP electorate. So, it’s not Clinton with whom Haley has the most in common. It’s Cheney.