America’s Future: A Conversation with Nikki Haley


Courtesy of Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law

“America’s Future: A Conversation with Nikki Haley” highlighted Haley’s political background, take on the midterm election, opinion on ongoing issues around the world and future goals.

Isabella Carlin, Staff Writer

Last Wednesday, undergrads, law students, professors and local residents filed into The Eleanor H. McCullen Center for Law, Religion, and Public Policy to listen to Nikki Haley speak. Haley served as the first female governor of South Carolina from 2011-2017. She also served as the United States ambassador to the United Nations for two years. The presentation titled “America’s Future: A Conversation with Nikki Haley” highlighted Haley’s political background, take on the midterm election, opinion on ongoing issues around the world and future goals. 


Haley began by speaking about her past before running for governor. She was born and raised in rural South Carolina. Throughout high school and college, Haley was not involved with politics. She spoke about how growing up she would often bookkeep the financial records at her mother’s clothing shop. This experience motivated her to study accounting at Clemson University. 


While reflecting on the moment she decided to run for public office, Haley recounted a conversation with her mother. She remembered complaining about how hard it was to earn a dollar and how easy it was for the government to take it. This revelation inspired Haley to run for the South Carolina House of Representatives against a 30-year incumbent, Larry Koon, in 2004. Her defeat of Koon launched her political career.  


Following her six years serving as a state representative, Haley successfully ran for governor in 2010 and led the state of South Carolina for six years. 


“They began to refer to us as the beast of the Southeast,” Haley explained while describing her state during her time as governor.


During her tenure as governor, Haley explained her greatest accomplishments were bringing jobs back to the state, promoting school choice for parents and leading her administration with transparency and accountability. 


When asked about her opinion following the results of this year’s midterm election, Haley said, “There are a lot of  lessons to be learned, and there is a lot of soul-searching to be done in the Republican party.” 


Leading up to the midterms, Haley endorsed 69 Republican candidates. She explained that the Republican Party was less successful than she expected and provided three reasons for this explanation: Democratic challengers ran better campaigns than the GOP candidates, Republicans have to stop promoting the idea that voters can only cast their ballots on Election Day and all the Democrats were unified together as a party. 


“We need to focus on solutions and getting the job done for the American people,” Haley said while speaking about future elections. 


Haley described her view that Republicans and Democrats agree on 80% of things but need to work together and discuss the remaining 20% of issues they disagree on. She said that focus should be placed on the economy, crime, border security and education.  


Following the discussion on the midterm takeaways, Haley was asked about her time serving as the U.S. Ambassador to the UN in 2017 and 2018 and her opinion on current global issues. At the UN, Haley was responsible for expressing the United States’ position on security issues occurring around the world. She explained that there were often challenges, as 193 countries do not all share the same values and priorities when it comes to methods of peace. 


“Without human rights, we cannot have peace and security,” Haley said. 


Haley explained that one of her main focuses as an ambassador was promoting human rights. She emphasized that individuals always need to speak out on human rights, especially regarding the abuse of religious rights. 


In relation to her stance on human rights, Haley was asked about her outlook regarding the Russo-Ukrainian War. 


“A strong America prevents wars,” Haley said. 


Haley explained that she believes that the United States had the opportunity to prevent the conflict from occurring. She described how America had all of the equipment ready to ship to Ukraine and should have acted in response to a tyrant’s threat. 


“This is not just about Ukraine but about freedom,” Haley said. “We can never allow freedom to lose.” 


When asked about what next measures should be taken to assist Ukraine, Haley said that President Biden needs to go to NATO and call on every country to send aid  to Ukraine. Haley detailed that Ukraine has demonstrated that they can fight, but it is the global community’s responsibility to do everything in its power to support Ukraine.  


At the end of the conversation, Haley was asked if she will be running in the 2024 Presidential Election. She described how she loves America and wants what is best for the country. Haley explained that she and her family will assess the possibility over the holiday season. 


“I have never lost a race, and am not going to start now,” Haley said.