Nikki Haley: “Concerned” Trump Can’t Win a General Election

Nikki Haley, 2024 GOP Presidential candidate, former U.S. Ambassador To The UN, and former South Carolina Governor joined Guy Benson on the Guy Benson Show to discuss a bevy of topics, including anti-Israel sentiment in the U.S. Congress and China’s attacks on American culture. PLUS – she makes her case on why she is the best candidate for the U.S. in 2024.

Listen to the full interview:

Full transcript below:

Guy Benson: Well, joining us now once again is Nikki Haley, who is a candidate for president. She’s the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and former governor of South Carolina. And ambassador, Governor, welcome back. Great to have you.

Nikki Haley: Thanks so much, Guy. Great to be back with you.

Guy Benson: All right. So let’s just get an assessment of where your campaign stands right now. I understand you were one of the candidates who has already qualified for next month’s first debate, which will be on Fox News. There are other folks trying to get in. You’re already in. We also saw a Fox Business poll that came out yesterday out of South Carolina where you are now edging into second place. You’re slightly ahead of Governor DeSantis and Senator Scott. Of course, Donald Trump still way up, but obviously a lot of movement there in your home state. Where do things stand in your mind?

Nikki Haley: Well, everything is going back as we would hope it to be. You know, we had a great launch in Charleston, South Carolina, with a few thousand people. We had been to Iowa and New Hampshire multiple times. And we’re not just doing rallies and leaving or doing town halls. We’re answering every question. We’re saying till the last person leaves, we’re not taking any shortcuts. We have raised between our campaign and supporting organizations $34 million, 6000 donations that have come in from all 50 states. 95% of those are $200 or less. And while the other candidates are spending millions of dollars, the economy is saving that money. We are saving it for when people are on vacation, kids are out of school, because they start next month and yes, we’ll be on the debate stage, but it’s at that time when you’ll start to see traction is after Labor Day. And so we’re very comfortable with where we are and we’re going to continue to do what we’re doing. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and we’re focused and ready.

Guy Benson: The debates could be significant. I know that at least it feels to me like in a lot of respects this campaign, the field has been frozen in a block of ice for months. You’ll see a little bit of movement here or there. Someone’s up, someone’s down, but it’s Donald Trump and then everyone else, maybe in the national polls, Trump, then DeSantis and then the rest of the folks. And there have been people wondering Trump supporters and non Trump supporters. Will this change? Will we see some of the candidates start to mix it up and will the script get flipped in some way? Do you think the debates are a crucial moment for that type of thing where people can have certain viral moments or capture people’s attention and imagination? Is that sort of part of your strategy here, using the debates to your advantage is that when perhaps the trajectories in this race start to at least get altered a little bit?

Nikki Haley: Well, I think the debates do help. I mean, certainly when you start the thing that’s when numbers warmer than any. So we didn’t expect our numbers to move too much. But I think what debates, you know, I don’t think it’s so much about viral moments or at least that’s not how I think about it. I like the idea that it’s every candidate up on stage and that you have the American public can sit there and look at the differences, at the approaches, at the solutions they give, and, you know, the style that the great opportunity for priced office on both sides, the candidates that are vying for their support, and I think it’s always a great way to move the ball because it gives people insight into the things that you find important. What’s your approach to country for president?

Guy Benson: Do you think that the frontrunner, the current frontrunner, Donald Trump, will actually show up? I know that he has hinted that maybe he won’t because he’s ahead by so much. His campaign is kind of approaching this as if he’s an incumbent, which he’s not. He was the incumbent last time he lost that election to Joe Biden. But I can see the argument and you’ve actually said something like this in the past, too, If you’re up big, big, big, is there an incentive to maybe put that at risk and show up? On the other side is he likes the attention. He generally thrived on the debate stage in 2016. He might want to keep people guessing at events. Actually be a part of that debate. Do you have a sense of what he will do? What do you think he should do?

Nikki Haley: Well, I think he should be on the debate stage. I think just trying to earn the support of the American people. You’re not going to get the support of your accent. And so, you know, just like Biden is getting hit for not debating RFK, I think the same thing is I think that, you know, people work as a backdrop to try and get their support. It doesn’t matter what your percentages are. It doesn’t matter whether you’re ahead or not ahead. It’s the fact that you were putting in to be the president of the United States. You have to be on the debate stage and show with the American people that you care. And so I think, look, it’s a tough situation for him. On one side, yes, his numbers are good. If he goes on stage, yes, he’s going to get challenged on his record, just like everybody else will get challenged on their if he doesn’t go on the debate stage, then it comes across as arrogant and something like he doesn’t have to earn the American people support. So you will see what he does. He leads to his own ground. We’ll figure it out. I think the smart thing is for him to be on that stage. But I’ll tell you, I’m going to be on that stage and I look forward to really expressing at least where we see the countries going in this world that we think that will save.

Guy Benson: A lot of Republican voters like, by and large, Donald Trump’s governing record when he was president. You’ll hear from a lot of people that they don’t want everything that he does or says or posts on social media and they’re worried about some of the baggage and the drama. And even among some of his supporters, there are some of those underlying fears sort of bubbling just beneath the surface. But in terms of what he delivered as president, part of the reason why I think his numbers, at least for now, are where they are. But you indicated that there will be elements of that record that you think he’ll be count that you think he’ll be called out on and will have to explain in your mind, having served in his administration, what are some of those areas where you feel like Donald Trump’s record needs to be scrutinized by conservative voters? And why would you make the case that your records better on those fronts?

Nikki Haley: I think he was the right president at the right time. I think that everybody looks at the fact that he didn’t get an ounce of credit or, you know, a moment speech when he was president. And I think that there were a lot of things that needed to be broken that he broke and were able to call out. And so, you know, I think that he was good at the time that he was there. And I appreciated serving with him. I think now we have to look at, okay, what would we do different? I think that he I think both Republicans and Democrats on spending and I think they spent way too much money worth $32 trillion in debt. And both parties have refused to deal with it. And I’m not a lawyer. I’m an accountant. I think it’s time we go and we seriously start thinking about what we’re handing over to our kids and we can’t hand over the debt. So I would stop the spending, stop the borrowing, stop the earmark and veto any spending bill. That doesn’t take us back to pre-COVID levels. I would start pushing a lot of what’s happening in federal government down to the state level. The governors and the people of those states manage that as opposed to Washington, DC and a massive bureaucracy. I think you look at, you know, how he’s dealt with China. You know, he certainly deserves credit for having brought both parties together to see that China was a problem. But he only focused on the trade portion and China didn’t ball up on their trade side either. I think this is that much more important national security threat when you look at the infiltration China’s done in our country, when you look at their build up of their military, when you look at all that they’re doing to literally try and overtake the West, I think this takes a much stronger approach. And I think we can’t be nice about this. We have to see them for the enemy that they are. And, you know, I think then the other side is it’s time for a new generational leader. You know, we’ve got, you know, three indictments. I think they’re going to be four indictments. And, you know, we can all say that the Department of Justice has not been good and intelligence agencies haven’t been trustworthy. But at the same time, we can’t be dealing with the drama. We can’t keep dealing with the chaos of it all. And, you know, we’ve got to make sure that we win this next presidential election. We can’t allow it to go to Kamala Harris. And so, you know, I think it’s time for a new generational leader. We’ve got tough issues. We need new solutions, and we need someone that is no nonsense and no problem.

Guy Benson: Do you think he couldn’t win in a general?

Nikki Haley: I think we would… we would be concerned about him winning a general. You can’t have four indictments. He’s going to be in multiple court cases. He’s having to deal with legal issues. I very much worried about them. That’s going to mean we saw how close it got last time. I think there’s a reason Biden wants Trump to be the nominee. I think that’s why the Democrats are pushing for it. And so I’m concerned. I look, I know the challenges that we have, whether it’s looking at the debt, whether it’s being the lack of transparency in education, the fact that we have to get America to get back on track since all this chaos happened in our schools, I look at the crime and the levels that they’re at. I look at the lawlessness on the border and I look at threats that are facing us from all over the world. And I think we need total focus and make sure that we don’t have any distractions. And I think that, you know, the distractions and the different legal issues are going to continue to be front and center as we go forward. And we can be optimistic.

Guy Benson: But I have the exact same concerns. I have not been shy about that. But what is sort of amazing to me is that a plurality or even a majority of Republican voters, at least for now, apparently seemingly don’t share those same concerns. The more they indict him, the more hot water he gets into, the more they rallied to his side because they feel like this is unfair targeting of him. And I agree to some extent that’s true. To other extents, I would I would dissent. But I understand sort of the rally around the flag, rally around the person being attacked by the left mentality. But if that’s going to eventually put you in a weaker position to win a general election that’s so important with such high stakes that you just laid out, that’s where I start to raise my hand and say, well, hang on, what’s the strategic thing to do here? How does that case start to seep in, whether it’s for you or for any of the other candidates? You know, right now he’s in such a dominant position. It feels like many Republican voters, they’ve heard the argument, Right. They, of course, intuitively at least understand that he’s a polarizing figure. It’ll be a dogfight. And at least for now, they’re saying that’s still the guy that we want to go with. How do you make that case in a way that isn’t necessarily offensive to Trump voters? People who strongly support him voted for him twice, while also maybe governor playing to some inherent latent concerns and fears that you just laid out. It seems like a tough balance.

Nikki Haley: I trust the American people. I trust the American people to get this right. Well, do they support the president? Yes. Do I support what he did for us and all that’s happened? Yes, of course I do. But does that mean he should be the person going forward? I think when the American people see all of us continue to lay out, I think they will do what it takes to make sure that we win our country back. And I think they will do what it takes to make sure that someone does not become president. And so, you know, look, it’s early. You look back in July of 2016, Ted Cruz had 4% going into the Iowa caucuses. In November of 2015. He had ten. By January, he won the Iowa caucuses with over 28%. On the other side, you have Scott Walker. The media loves Scott. They were you know, he was Teflon Scott. Everybody said he was going to be the next president In July of 2015. He got about 20%. He never made it to Iowa. So, you know, when I say it’s a marathon, not a sprint, we’ve got a ways to go before this happens. A lot of candidates are going to peak and fall, and we’ve seen that happen already. And so I think when it comes down, people are going to get this right. I think they know that we have a country to save. And I think they’re going to do this for the sake of their children, their families and the strength of our nation. So I think that all of this is going to play out exactly the way it’s supposed to. And at the end of the day, we need to make sure that we have a country that goes back to being strong and proud, going back to what our national purpose is and those values that have always made our country great.

Guy Benson: You mentioned that you’re going to try to be smart about husbanding your resources. You haven’t spent a lot of money. That’s something that you want to bring in, sort of like, you know, the cavalry at some point going on air. What’s the timing look like in your mind for that? Is that right before the caucuses in Iowa, for instance, you don’t have to give us all of your inside strategy. I’m just curious, at what point do you think it starts to make sense to go into that war chest that you’re that you’re building?

Nikki Haley: Well, I think once you start once the debates start, that’s when the game is on. I think we’re off to the races and that’s when people pay attention to different candidates and gear them out and the direction they want to go. And so that’s what our focus has been. And, you know, like I said, I’ve done an accounting. I have not spent the money that these other guys have that we’re doing JetBlue and Spirit flights, we’re staying in a lot of Garden Inns. I’m very scrappy when it comes to how to spend the money, because that money all needs to go to TV. It all needs to make sure we go to messaging out to the American people the importance of this election. The fact that I’ve been a two term governor that took a double dip in the state and turned it into an economic powerhouse. I was at the UN. I negotiated with China, Russia and Iran. I have dealt with 193 countries. So I have the foreign policy experience that when you look at what we’re waiting to have happen in our country, I think having an accountant who’s dealt with a bureaucracy, having an ambassador who knows what the foreign threats are in our country, and having a military spouse and a mom and a daughter who taught her every day how blessed we were to live in America. I think that’s exactly where we need to go in this country. And I think the American people will see that. And the best way to see what kind of leader someone’s going to be is to see how hard they campaign. And I think that that is something else that’s been obvious. We can’t outwork the and that’s we’re going to continue to do whatever it takes to earn every single person support.

Guy Benson: Last question, Nikki Haley, it’s on the other side of the aisle. These scandals involving not just Hunter Biden, but the president as well. Seems like the smoke is getting closer and closer to Joe Biden and you pile on top of that headache for him. The other manifestly obvious struggles that he has, his unpopularity, the lack of support and enthusiasm certainly surrounding him, the big doubts about his vice president that you’ve now mentioned a couple of times. Do you think there’s a decent chance that by the time the fall of 2024 rolls around, it’s not going to be him on the other side of the ticket?

Nikki Haley: I have said for a long time, we’re not running against Joe Biden. We’re running against Kamala Harris. First of all, I think everything that’s happened with Hunter Biden, it is it is really unimaginable that this is not being heavily looked into and that it’s allowed to get this far. And no one has done anything about this matter, whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat. We owe it to make sure that we hold everybody accountable. I think that’s the problem and that’s why we’ve got to have some limits in Washington. That’s why I think we need to have mental competency care for people over the age of 75. We’ve got to reduce the amount of power and arrogance, the tendency, and it’s at an all time high. And when you see, you know, all of the politics that have been played in the Justice Department, the American people have lost trust in government and they feel like they work for government instead of government working for the people. We need to go back and. Simplify government. Get trust back from the American people towards what’s happening with the government. And remember. That was intended to secure the rights and freedoms of the people. It was never meant to be all things to all people. We need to go back to the importance of freedom in this country. And so, no, I think it’s going to be Kamala Harris. At the end of the day, I will continue to say that that a vote for Joe Biden is a vote for Kamala Harris, because I think that’s the real intent here. And I’m determined whether it’s Joe Biden or Kamala. We’re going to defeat her. I think it’s important. I think we have what it takes to win. And I hope your listeners will go to and join us because we’ve got a country to save.

Guy Benson: Nikki Haley was the governor of South Carolina. She was U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and she is running for president of the United States. She will be on that debate stage August 23rd, just under a month on Fox News Channel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Governor, Ambassador, thank you very much for your time. We’ll talk again.

Nikki Haley: Thanks so much, Guy. I appreciate it.