CONWAY — Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said China won’t be allowed to bully and steal from Americans any longer if she is elected president next year.
That’s what she told a gathering of 260 people who turned out to listen to her Wednesday evening at the North Conway Community Center. The event was organized with help from the North Country Federated Republican Women and the Mount Washington Valley Republican Committee.
Haley, 51, was governor of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017, and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, from January 2017 to December, 2018.
She was introduced by MWV Republican Chair Jerry Goodrich and state Sen. Jeb Bradley.
“So we decided we were going to come to the North Country,” said Haley, adding she had a couple reasons. “One because we want you to know how hard we’re going to work for you. Two, I wanted to see what it was like. I wanted to see what everybody was talking about.”
She was taken aback by the size and beauty of North Conway and added it has a lot more going on than in Bamberg, S.C., where she was raised.
“We were all excited the day we got a Hardee’s and I’m looking at this place going, oh my gosh, this is heaven,” she said.
While she is of Indian heritage, her parents taught her to view herself as being the same as the other children in their community.
While at the UN, Haley helped move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, passed strict sanctions against North Korea and pulled the U.S. out of the Iran deal.
“We took the kick me signs off of our backs,” said Haley, adding these moves were intended to make other nations respect the U.S.
What’s more, said Haley, she showed then President Donald Trump that the U.S. was giving foreign aid to hostile regimes and he “lost his mind” when he saw where American taxpayer dollars were being spent.
In the recent past, the U.S. has given aid to Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Russian ally Belarus and even China.
“I’m president, we will no longer give money to countries that hate America,” she said.
She said China is the United State’s biggest enemy.
“It is not being dramatic when I tell you, China is preparing for war against the United States,” she said. “It’s all around us. You can look at the infiltration.”
She said this infiltration is multifold. She said China’s is funding American universities, sends fentanyl over the border, sent a spy balloon over American airspace, opened “spy centers” around the country and China has even purchased of 400,000 acres of farmland.
“If they want normal trade with America then quit killing Americans,” she said of China’s role in the fentanyl epidemic. “We’ve got to start being harsh with them.”
Haley pledged to “stop them (China) being able to buy any American soil whatsoever and we take back the American soil that they’ve already bought.”
She said China steals $600 billion worth of intellectual property per year and the federal government does nothing.
She said there would be “no more spy balloons over our airspace unless they’re prepared to pay a price for it.”
“They (China) know what they’re doing with artificial intelligence and cyber,” said Haley. “What are we doing? I’ll tell you what we’re doing, our military’s taking gender pronoun classes. Think about that. They’re laughing at us. We look so distracted.”
While seeking to be tough on China, Haley said she understands the needs of military families too.
Before entering politics, Haley got an accounting degree from Clemson University and worked in the private sector.
“I’m not a lawyer, accountants are problem solvers,” she quipped.
One problem she encountered in her early days in politics, as a state representative, was that the other legislators voted themselves a pay raise on a voice vote and this “infuriated” her. So, she filed legislation to create transparency, and she was stripped of her seniority. This only motivated her to climb higher on the political ladder.
“So, I ran for governor and I’m proud to say one of the first bills we signed into law in South Carolina is now everything debated on the floor of the House to the Senate requires a legislative vote on the record,” said Haley.
After becoming governor, she reversed the state’s double digit unemployment crisis by bringing in major companies like Mercedes and Boeing.
“We basically dropped the 11 percent unemployment rate down to 4 percent,” said Haley. “We announced jobs in every single county. And then I got the call for the United Nations.”
Other accomplishments as governor she listed include passing some of the toughest immigration laws in the country and voter ID.
In terms of domestic issues, Haley, who is personally pro-life, but added, perhaps enough consensus could be reached, that there could be federal laws on late-term abortions and not jailing pregnant women seeking abortions.
She stressed as president she would clamp down on illegal immigration and take back control of the border in part by reinstating President Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.
Asked how she would rein in the deep state, Haley said she would do it the same way she did it as governor of South Carolina and that’s by replacing every agency head under her command, giving them a series of performance benchmarks to hit and incentives to save money. She would also meet with governors once per quarter not once per year as most presidents do.
During his introduction, Bradley said he debated with himself if he should first introduce Haley as governor or ambassador and he asked her preference.
“She said, ‘Nikki works the best,'” said Bradley.