Nikki Haley's 'common sense' approach draws supporters in Iowa town hall

Former U.N. ambassador and Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks at a town hall in rural Waukee, Iowa, on Sunday. Photo by Joe Fisher/UPI
1 of 5 | Former U.N. ambassador and Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks at a town hall in rural Waukee, Iowa, on Sunday. Photo by Joe Fisher/UPI

WAUKEE, Iowa, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Four days after another tense Republican primary debate Nikki Haley said she does not believe personal attacks against fellow candidates will "get us anywhere." For some Iowa voters at her town hall in rural Waukee on Sunday, it was the message they have been looking for.

Kyle and Gayla Baughman of West Des Moines told UPI that Haley is the most "common sense" candidate campaigning for the Republican nomination. An independent voter said she likes that Haley does not speak negatively about her opponents and that she speaks with "logic."


Haley stood in the middle of a large metal shed surrounded by hundreds of Iowans with 36 days until the first Republican caucus will be held. The building at Manning Ag Service -- a central Iowa based trucking company -- is used to clean up tractors and semi trailers.


On Sunday, Haley touted the latest poll from the Wall Street Journal that has her beating incumbent President Joe Biden by 17 points, more than any of her Republican counterparts including former President Donald Trump. She received some of her loudest applause at that point.

The loudest roar came when she discussed changing the trend of Republicans losing the popular vote. She said the party needs a "new generational leader who leaves the negativity behind." While she said she approved of Trump's policies during his term in office, Haley added that "chaos follows him."

"We can't have a country in disarray and a world on fire and go through four more years of chaos," Haley said. "We won't survive."

The seating for the event quickly filled up, leaving some to stand or lean against the semi truck or John Deere tractor that were shiny and on display on either side of a large American flag.

After entering to "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor, Haley opened with her underdog story, beginning with her unseating Larry Koon in the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2004.

"I've been underestimated in everything I've done," Haley said. "It makes me scrappy. No one will outwork me. No one will outsmart me because we have a country to save."


Haley addressed the priorities she has shared through four primary debates. On the economy, she said the IRS must focus on COVID-19 relief fraudsters and "claw back" on unspent relief dollars. She called on Congress to pass a balanced budget on time, adding that she will veto any spending bill that does not meet pre-pandemic levels of spending. She also wants to eliminate the federal gas and diesel tax and make tax cuts for small businesses permanent.

The former South Carolina governor pledged to meet with all governors, Republican and Democrat, on a quarterly basis with the purpose of moving federal programs down to the states.

Haley voiced her support for congressional term limits. She said she knows the proposal would not pass in the legislature but she has another solution. She would ask candidates, including incumbents, to sign a pledge to support term limits when they run for Congress. Then she would release the names of who did and did not sign the pledge publicly. She has also suggested that lawmakers should take mental competency tests if they are over the age of 75.

Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, 90, has served in the Senate for 42 years after being elected in 1980.


One of the main talking points on the debate stage and by Republicans on Capitol Hill has been border security. Haley proposed a national E-Verify program requirement for businesses to prove that all of their workers are legally allowed to work in the United States.

A notable policy she did not address was abortion. Haley has previously called for a "consensus on abortion." She has been outspoken that she does not believe a six week limit on abortion care would pass federally.

Haley's position is a significant reason why Gayla Baughman of West Des Moines said she supports her for the Republican nomination. Kyle Braughman added that he believes Haley can bridge together a polarized electorate.

"I feel like a lot of undecided people don't like Biden and there's a recoil effect driving people to Trump," he said. "We need a more common sense candidate like Nikki Haley."

Several attendees that spoke to UPI did not wish to share their names, citing concerns about their jobs. One independent voter -- who identified herself by her initials "M.Z." -- said she noticed a stark difference between Haley's town hall and a rally for Trump that she had attended months before.

"She's so logical and doesn't say negative things and doesn't rant and rave," she said. "She wasn't here to throw her arms around and to entertain us."


M.Z. said she supported Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar in 2020, and has been following Haley's career since she removed the Confederate flag from the South Carolina capitol building.

"If the election is between Biden and Trump I would definitely vote for Biden," she added. "If it is between Biden and Haley I would maybe vote for Haley."

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