Haley brings Republican primary campaign to Hanover

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, former governor of South Carolina, answers questions from the audience during a campaign event at Adelphian Lodge in Hanover, N.H., on Saturday, July 8, 2023. Melissa Roth Richards and Dan Richards, back left, formerly of Norwich and now living in Puerto Rico, were among guests forced to stand outside the standing-room-only event. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, former governor of South Carolina, answers questions from the audience during a campaign event at Adelphian Lodge in Hanover, N.H., on Saturday, July 8, 2023. Melissa Roth Richards and Dan Richards, back left, formerly of Norwich and now living in Puerto Rico, were among guests forced to stand outside the standing-room-only event. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news photographs — James M. Patterson

Guests arrive at Adelphian Lodge in Hanover, N.H., to see Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speak on Saturday, July 8, 2023. The lodge, the former house of the Alpha Delta fraternity on the Dartmouth College Campus, has been repurposed by the Alpha Delta Alumni Corporation as an events and co-working space. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Guests arrive at Adelphian Lodge in Hanover, N.H., to see Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speak on Saturday, July 8, 2023. The lodge, the former house of the Alpha Delta fraternity on the Dartmouth College Campus, has been repurposed by the Alpha Delta Alumni Corporation as an events and co-working space. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

Jim Rubens, chair of the Upper Valley Republicans, right, speaks with Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley following her campaign event at Adelphian Lodge in Hanover, N.H., on Saturday, July 8, 2023. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Jim Rubens, chair of the Upper Valley Republicans, right, speaks with Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley following her campaign event at Adelphian Lodge in Hanover, N.H., on Saturday, July 8, 2023. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news — James M. Patterson

Richard Bircher, of Lebanon, waits for a chance to meet Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley after her campaign appearance at Adelphian Lodge in Hanover, N.H., on Saturday, July 8, 2023. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Richard Bircher, of Lebanon, waits for a chance to meet Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley after her campaign appearance at Adelphian Lodge in Hanover, N.H., on Saturday, July 8, 2023. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

By RAY COUTURE

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 07-10-2023 9:10 PM

HANOVER — Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley greeted a packed crowd inside Dartmouth’s Adelphian Lodge Saturday morning with a joke about the building’s connection to a certain famous ’70s comedy about an unruly fraternity.

“You left out that Animal House was taken after this, right?” Haley asked the audience after being introduced by Dartmouth’s Alpha Delta Alumni Corporation board member Jim Feuille, whose organization owns the building. “You gotta talk about that because I think it’s super cool.”

Haley, a former governor of South Carolina and former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under Donald Trump, spent much of the last week holding town halls and meeting potential voters in several New Hampshire towns including Lancaster, Lincoln, Sugar Hill and North Conway. Haley called the North Country region “beautiful” and tried to pronounce “Lancaster” with a New Hampshire accent, which garnered a few laughs from the audience.

According to 538’s aggregate polling data for the Republican 2024 primaries, as of last Wednesday, Haley’s 3.9% share is trailing Trump (52%), Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (23.3%) and former Vice President Mike Pence (6.5%), though she’s ahead of U.S. Senator Tim Scott (3.7%) and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Haley, who is Indian-American, is the first woman of color to be considered a major candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

She opened her speech by discussing how being the only Indian family in her hometown made her the target of bullies when she was younger and that experience drew a bit of sage wisdom from her mother.

“My mom would always say (to me) ‘Your job is not to show them how you’re different, your job is to show them how you’re similar,” Haley said.

“And it’s amazing how our country can take my mom’s advice right now.”

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Haley’s 45-minute speech touched on her belief that the U.S. needs to be much tougher on China in foreign relations, saying that China is preparing for war “with America” and that it has, in part, already infiltrated the U.S. through supplying Mexican drug cartels with fentanyl.

“We had enough fentanyl cross that border last year to kill every single American,” Haley said. “And don’t think for a second that China doesn’t know what they’re doing when they send it.”

On the topic of women’s reproductive rights and abortion, which audience member Marianna Doyle raised in the questions period following the former governor’s speech, Haley said she is “unapologetically pro-life,” but also said the issue is “incredibly personal for every woman in every way.” She said that it’s “for the best” that the Supreme Court repealed Roe v. Wade and returned the issue to state-level governance.

She said given that any potential federal bill weighing in on the issue would need 60 Senate votes and that “we haven’t had 60 (anti-abortion) senators in 60 years,” it would be practically impossible for an incoming Republican president to ban abortion nationally.

“So, if we’re going to talk about a federal law, let’s talk about what we can agree on?” Haley asked the audience. “Why can’t we agree that we should not have late-term abortions? Can’t we agree that doctors and nurses who don’t believe in abortion shouldn’t have to perform them? Can’t we agree we should encourage more adoptions and good quality adoptions? Can’t we agree that contraception should be accessible? And can’t we agree that no state law should say if a woman has an abortion, that she should have to go to jail or get the death penalty?”

When asked about her policy on gun control, Haley — who was governor of South Carolina in 2015 when a racist white gunman shot and killed nine Black parishioners at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston — said that the focus needs to first be on policing “street crime” and removing illegal guns off the streets, then prosecuting those selling them with more severe legal penalties.

She also said mental health plays a significant factor, stating that “we have more people now with anxiety and depression than we’ve ever seen” and that there aren’t enough therapists, mental health clinics or addiction centers in the United States to meet demand.

Haley also emphasized America’s commitment to take care of its military veteran population and said that, as president, she would work to ensure better medical care for veterans by requiring congress members to get their health care through the VA. Haley’s husband, Michael, is in the military and is currently serving overseas, she said.

Max CiVon, a resident of Hopkinton, N.H., said he came out to see Haley because he views her as a “center” candidate who has a “pulse” on what the American people need the most.

“The vast majority of Americans want the same thing,” said CiVon, who is in his late 50s. “They want their families to have a good education, they want to live a nice life and they want to be left alone — I think she’s the candidate for that — the ‘leave me alone’ candidate.”

CiVon said he’s a registered Democrat but that the party has “left him” and that he’s looking for a new political place to live.

Haley’s audience featured a large gaggle of Dartmouth students who packed in at the back of the room for most of the town hall. One of those students, Kavya Nivarthy, 20, who said she votes independent, praised Haley’s crowd presence and energy, calling it “exciting.”

“She clearly has that humility that comes from her family life and her experience as governor working in a state (South Carolina) that has a lot of potential,” Nivarthy said. “She seemed to be a great listener, and she dealt with questions really well.”

Nivarthy said she hasn’t made up her mind on who she’s voting for but that she’s most concerned about how the economy will be faring when she enters the job market in two years.

“I don’t want Social Security or Medicare to run out, (and) I want to enter into a healthy job market when I graduate,” she said.

Ray Couture can be reached at 1994rbc@gmail.com.

CORRECTION: Kavya Nivarthy is a 20-year-old Dartmouth College student who votes independent. A previous version of this story included an incorrect first name for Nivarthy.