Bless Nikki Haley's Heart, She Tried

Nikki Haley is still running for president. At least no one's stopping her, and that seems the extent of voter encouragement.

Haley embarrassed herself and her loved ones this weekend at the Conservative Political Action Conference. She addressed a mostly empty room but unfortunately, her pandering MAGA nonsense — they're coming for our gas stoves! — was recorded for all to see.

"Joe and Kamala even say that America is racist," Haley declared, falsely.Vice President Kamala Harris said in April 2021, "First of all, no I don’t believe that America is a racist country, but we also have to speak truth about the history of racism in this country and its existence today.”

It gets worse. Here's Haley's big money line, intended to draw rounds of applause, but you need an audience with at least two hands for that feat.

COVID-19 is responsible for the deaths of more than 1 million Americans. No one has died from a land acknowledgement announcement, not even due to excessive eye-rolling.


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Haley took a reportedly "veiled shot" at Donald Trump when she said the party needed a "new generation of leadership" and asked, "Are you tired of losing?" Immediately after her speech, while taking selfies with CPAC attendees, Haley was surrounded by heckling Trump supporters who shouted at her, "We love Trump!" and "Trump! Trump! Trump!" and chased her in the elevator. She really connected with them.

The spontaneous selfies didn't prove predictive of Haley's overall impact at the MAGA-dominated event. She bombed in the CPAC presidential straw poll, pulling in a pathetic three percent. Obviously, Trump won with a whopping 62 percent, and Florida's fascist Gov. Ron DeSantis (who didn't even go there) finished a distant second with 20 percent, down from last year's 28 percent.

Haley even lost to Michigan businessman Perry Johnson, an actual person I didn't just make up to dunk on Haley. Johnson announced what the Associated Press calls his "long shot bid for president" last week. He managed five percent of the vote. You assume "poll better than guy no one heard of" was one of the Haley campaign's more modest CPAC goals. On the limited upside, Haley performed three times better than former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.

Monday, Haley published an op-ed in USA Today denouncing out-of-control government spending like some boring 1990s Republican who pretends to have coherent, non-overtly racist policy positions. She wrote, "Republicans deserve to be called out for getting the ball rolling on the pandemic spending binge. Democrats deserve blame for keeping it going, price tag be damned."

The "pandemic spending binge" kept Americans from starving during the worst days of the pandemic. Trump will easily crush her on this point. "Both sides"-ing government spending might get her a co-host slot on "Meet the Press," but it won't improve her primary polling numbers.

People have suggested that Haley is really running for vice president, a position with zero growth opportunity unless your name is Joe Biden. Not sure that running against a vainglorious psychopath is how you end up on his shortlist, though. Notice that Trump mocked Haley's crowd size with his usual level of grace.

Of course, Haley isn't exactly a favorite for veep, either. She received just 10 percent support among CPAC straw poll voters for vice president, putting her in third place behind DeSantis (14 percent) and Arizona's Imaginary Gov. Kari Lake (20 percent). Considering Trump left his last VP to die at the hands of the mob he unleashed on the Capitol, that's probably good news for John McCain Haley.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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