*Please note: This article is a student blog written by a Kevin B. Harrington Student Ambassador. The Ambassador Program is a unique opportunity for Saint Anselm College students of any major to be involved in supporting the Institute's various events and activities. To learn more about our student ambassadors please visit the NHIOP website.

On Friday, February 17th, the New Hampshire Institute of Politics had the honor of hosting former United States ambassador to the U.N. and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, as she kicked off her 2024 presidential campaign.

Haley honored the long-standing practice of entering the presidential race in the Granite State — a cherished tradition among New Hampshire voters. The combination of the excitement for the beginning of the 2024 race and Haley presenting as one of the only formal GOP contenders in the race made the event extremely popular among local voters — holding well over the anticipated amount of attendees, all excited to hear a new presidential candidate speak.

Student ambassadors at the Nikki Haley event
Kevin B. Harrington Student Ambassadors at Nikki Haley's campaign launch

Taking the stage, Haley began addressing the crowd by beginning her speech with the story of her life. She shared experiences from her childhood as the daughter of Indian immigrants in a majority white town saying, “We were the only Indian family in that small southern town. We weren't white enough to be white. We weren't black enough to be black.”

Haley repeatedly credited this for building her political vigor saying she, “spent my entire life fighting the status quo.” Haley shared the story of how she met her husband and her time as a military wife while detailing her time at Clemson University as an accounting major, her successes in the South Carolina House of Representatives, and her notable work as the Governor of South Carolina.

Switching her speech to policy, Haley focused on many of the topics that are important to the Republican base and that will most likely be critical to her campaign, such as the southern border and inflation rates. She explained her education policy regarding school choice while also denouncing teaching Critical Race Theory in schools.

“We need to go back to making sure they can read, they can write, that they can sit there and do science and know their history,” Haley said, calling for a higher focus on improving graduation rates in public education.

Haley dedicated a large portion of her speech to foreign policy, invoking her credentials as one of the country’s former top diplomats. She defended Former President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Israel saying, “You know, when I was at the United Nations, I had to defend the fact that we were moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. And we were vilified for it. And I took the brunt of it. And I was proud to do it.” Lastly during her speech, Haley emphasized her hard stance on implementing term limits with competency tests. Her choice to argue that, “We need mental competency tests for anyone over the age of 75,” brings into focus her relative youth compared to prominent figures in Washington.

At the end of the event, she took questions from the already lively crowd and spoke to local reporters, ending the first of many presidential campaign visits upcoming for the 2024 primary season. Members of the community, and Saint Anselm College, can expect to look forward to numerous presidential candidates visiting the Institute over the next year.