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The Dartmouth
May 30, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley hosts town hall on campus

Haley spoke at the Adelphian Lodge for 45 minutes before answering questions from audience members.

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Courtesy of Taylor Haber. 

On July 8, Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley hosted a town hall on campus at the Adelphian Lodge. Haley, the former governor of South Carolina and former ambassador to the United Nations, spoke about her political platform and vision for the country, then answered questions from audience members.

As the 2024 Republican presidential primary gets underway, nearly every declared candidate has visited New Hampshire in recent months. For more than a century, the Granite State has hosted the “first-in-the-nation” primary for both major parties and served as a key battleground for candidates.

Haley is the most recent presidential contender to speak at the Adelphian Lodge — formerly Alpha Delta fraternity — which the College derecognized in 2015. Past GOP presidential nominees, Bob Dole and John McCain, among others, visited the lodge during their respective White House bids.

In her opening remarks, Haley noted the Adelphian Lodge as the location that inspired the 1978 college cult film, “Animal House.”

“You left out that ‘Animal House’ was taken after this, right?” Haley said, after an introduction. “You’ve got to talk about that because I think it’s super cool.”

Throughout her 45-minute address, Haley discussed her national security concerns, explaining that a strong military and energy independence were critical to countering America’s adversaries abroad. Haley said that the Biden administration’s record on foreign affairs and its handling of the 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan has impacted recent events on the world stage.

“You’ve got Russia invading Ukraine, you’ve got Iran building a bomb, you’ve got North Korea testing ballistic missiles, you’ve got China on the march,” Haley said. “But make no mistake, none of that would have happened had we not had that debacle in Afghanistan.”

Haley placed particular focus on China, which she said had become “our number one national security threat” that “is preparing for war.” According to Haley, issues including Chinese fentanyl trafficking in the U.S., Chinese intellectual property theft and China’s growing military demonstrate how the nation has “infiltrated our country.”

“China doesn’t see us as a competitor. They see us as an enemy,” Haley said. “They want to overtake the West. They don’t play by the rules —  I worked with them for two years at the United Nations.”

During the Q&A segment after her speech, Haley fielded questions from audience members on a range of political topics, including one on the issue of gun control. Haley said she favors stricter prosecution and harsher penalties for those who violate gun laws, as well as increased resources for mental health, which she described as “the cancer that America refuses to acknowledge.” 

Josh Paul ’25 said that while he thought Haley “had a good message” during the event, her position on gun control “makes no sense” to him. 

“Republicans, they keep on saying ‘mental health, mental health, mental health,’” Paul said. “How about keeping guns out of the hands of the wrong people?”

On cultural issues, Haley spoke out against what she described as a “national self-loathing.” Referring to her own experience as one of the first two women of color elected governor in US history, Haley said “America’s not racist, we’re blessed.”

Towards the end of her speech, Haley discussed the national appeal of the Republican Party, reminding those in attendance that the GOP had lost seven out of the last eight most recent popular votes in presidential elections. Haley said Republicans should be “adding to our tent” by courting a diverse coalition of Americans.

“You don’t go to them and say ‘you should be with us,’” Haley said. “You go to them and ask them what they care about.”

Haley ended her remarks by explaining why, as well as who, she is running for in the election, noting her Indian immigrant parents, her husband who is currently in active military service and her two adult children. Haley added that primary voters need to display “courage.”

“But, what I promise you is if you will commit, if you will take the time to get involved, I promise you our best days are yet to come,” she said.

David Ivey, a New London resident, said he felt the town hall was “very good,” having previously listened to Haley speak on WMUR’s “Conversation with the Candidate” series.

“She has such sensibility, such common sense on how to deal with some of these issues, that I was hooked then,” Ivey said.