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Less than 30 minutes into the first Republican presidential debate, the men were arguing on stage, just as Nikki Haley predicted.
"I think that's exactly why Margaret Thatcher said, 'If you want to know something, ask a man,'" joked Haley, a former South Carolina governor and former ambassador to the United Nations. "If you want something done, ask a woman."
The response was the start of a breakout performance for Ms. Haley, who already had a distinctive figure: the only woman in the Republican field, standing in a white and pale blue suit-style dress among a stretch ofMen with almost identical red ties..
Her Thatcher line, a favorite on the stump and the inspiration for the title of one of her books, captured the balance she has tried to find between testing her party's positions and not leaning too far into her gender. But Haley, who has struggled to gain ground in primary polls dominated by Donald J. Trump, has not always stayed out of the race.
She attacked her rivals and offered a general election.vision for your partyit seemed to fascinate some voters and pundits, who were impressed by his ability to speak with authority, deftly break from the pack on some issues and give and take jabs.
The application could give his campaign a much-needed boost. Haley spent the next morning sitting through a series of interviews before she was expected in Chicago for a fundraiser. At least, her allies said, the debate offered a glimpse of why she shouldn't be banned.
"No one thought Nikki Haley was going to be elected to anything in South Carolina," said Katon Dawson, a surrogate for Haley and a former chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party. And yet, he added, "he's never lost a race."
Here are four areas where Ms. Haley was able to strike a chord and separate herself from the field Wednesday night in Milwaukee.
"Don't make women feel like they have to decide on this issue."
He went head-to-head with former Vice President Mike Pence.about abortion, who passionately defends women and urges her rivals to stop "demonizing" the issue. As governor of South Carolina, she signed a 20-week ban on the procedure, but on Wednesday, as she had previously, she called for "consensus" on the issue.
"Can't we all agree that we should ban late-term abortions? Can't we all agree that we should encourage adoptions? Can't we all agree that doctors and nurses who don't believe in abortions shouldn't perform them?" he said, before continuing: "Can't we all agree that contraceptives should be available? And can we can't everyone agree that we're not going to imprison a woman or face the death penalty if she has an abortion?"
Haley's attempts to lead her party on a difficult issue have not always been well received, in part because her critics say she hasavoided most questionsabout the details of their positions. On stage Wednesday, she spoke about personal family issues, saying she was "unreservedly pro-life" because her husband was adopted and she had trouble conceiving their two children.
But when Pence tried to establish himself as the staunchest opponent of abortion, telling Haley that "consensus is the opposite of leadership," Haley responded by saying he was being dishonest about what was politically possible when it came to Congress. pass a federal ban on abortion.
"When you talk about a federal ban, be honest with the American people," he said, arguing that the filibuster threshold of 60 votes in the Senate meant no Democratic or Republican president could set abortion policy.
The exchange underscored the deep and emotional division that has emerged among Republicans since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade last year. Although party members largely support this decision, a violent electoral backlash to tighter restrictions at the state level has turned abortion into onepolitically risky problemfor the Republicans.
"This guy is a murderer and you choose a murderer over a pro-American country."
Some of Haley's fiercest clashes were with Vivek Ramaswamy, a biotech entrepreneur and political newcomer, over his support for Ukraine in its efforts to fight the invasion of Russia, an issue that has sharply divided the field and the party more broadly phrases. He suggested that Ramaswamy wanted to "hand Ukraine over to Russia" and that Russian President Vladimir V. Putin had killed Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner mercenary group responsible for abrief riot.
"This guy is a murderer, and you choose a murderer over a pro-American country," Haley told Ramaswamy, referring to Putin, whom she also called a "thug." "You don't do that to your friends. Instead, what you do is have the support of your friends.”
He later took one of the night's most memorable shots when he told Mr Ramaswamy: "It will make America less safe. You have no foreign policy experience and it shows." This drew loud applause from the audience.
"Everyone voted to increase the debt and Donald Trump added $8 trillion to our debt."
On the campaign trail, Haley often tells crowds that it's time to put an accountant like her in the White House. On Wednesday, as her rivals blamed President Biden and Democrats for economic policies they said had driven up the price of food and gas, Haley criticized both Republicans and Democrats for increasing the nation's spending and debt.
"The truth is, Biden didn't do this to us," he said. "Our Republicans did this to us when they passed the $2.2 trillion Covid stimulus bill."
Biden shared a clip of Haley saying his rivals (Trump, Pence, DeSantis and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina) had pushed up the national debt. "What she said", the presidentsaid in X, formerly known as Twitter.
Economists largely agree that Biden's $1.9 trillion 2021 pandemic rescue plan contributed tohighest inflationrate for decades. But they blame stimulus provided under the Trump administration and monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve, along with supply chain disruptions caused by Covid-19.
Debt and spending issues, along with calls for more government transparency, were part of Haley's stunning victory in 2010, when sheelected governor. That year, Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, rode the Tea Party wave to become the first woman and first person of color to lead South Carolina, as well as the youngest governor of any state at the time.
"We have to face the fact that Trump is the least loved politician in America."
Ms. Haley drew some boos from the arena crowd when she called for "a new generation of conservative leadership," noting that "three-quarters of Americans do not want a rematch between Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden."
"We have to face the fact that Trump is the least loved politician in America," he said. "We cannot win such an election."
Iet interview med Fox NewsAfter the debate, host Sean Hannity-Haley appealed to Republican primary voters to support a candidate other than Trump, who he portrayed as an uncertain bet against Biden.
He said he believed the charges against Trump were politically motivated, but that the cases could nonetheless throw him off the campaign trail.
"I served with him, I was proud to serve with him, I agree with him on most issues, and he is my friend," Haley said of the former president. "But the reality is we can't afford Joe Biden."
Jasmine UlloaCover national politics from Washington. Before joining The Times, he worked at The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times and various newspapers in his home state of Texas. Mere om Jazmin Ulloa
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