New Hampshire voters care a tuppence for Haley's civil war comments even as critics pound her

Washington, Dec 29 (IANS): Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was let off the hook for her comments on the American civil war sans slavery by the voters in New Hampshire where she has built up a strong lead in her attempts to close the ranks with the Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, who has been slammed with a ruling from Maine that keeps him off the state ballot, the second state after Colorado.

Voters did not care much about her comments on the American civil war, but gave her a rousing reception at New Conway in New Hampshire, almost digging into her now famous tagline on the 2024 campaign trail - “It’s not what I say, it’s what I’ve done", media reports said.

As it came to her comments about the Civil War minus slavery, which was the main driver that divided the union, that’s exactly how some crucial first-in-the-nation primary voters in New Hampshire felt.

Haley faced backlash from Republican and Democratic opponents over her response to a town hall question on Wednesday night about the cause of the Civil War, in which she failed to mention slavery.

Town hall attendees told the USA TODAY at a Haley event in North Conway on Thursday that the critical response was a minor blip in her campaign. And the voters across the aisles said that it wasn’t likely to impact their support for her.

Haley on Wednesday described the cause of the Civil War as government control, "freedoms and what people could and couldn’t do".

Scott Blundo, a 55-year-old undeclared voter from Moultonborough, argued that while the comments were “a little short-sighted", he was paying closer attention to Haley’s actions.

In particular, he pointed to her tenure as South Carolina Governor, when she removed a Confederate flag from the grounds of the statehouse following a shooting in Charleston that left nine Black Americans dead, as reason for his trust that she understands the gravity of the role race has played in America’s story, USA TODAY reported.

“I believe in her enough as a person. I don't think a one-off comment should sway anyone in a particular way,” Blundo, a US veteran, said, adding, “And I believe in her politics, which is the present day.”

Bill Lloyd (80), a registered Republican, similarly pointed to her experience in South Carolina and broadly described her comments as similar to gaffes other politicians, like President Joe Biden, have made. Even some Democrats agreed.

“She’s going to make gaffes. They all do,” Becky DeWitt, said a 72-year-old Democrat, who plans to vote for Haley if she makes it to the general elections.

“There are just some things she needs to learn.”

The response from New Hampshire voters, and particularly independents like Blundo, comes as Haley looks to topple Trump in the presidential primary.

Haley is betting heavily on a coalition of hesitant Trump voters, never-Trump voters and independents like Blundo in the Granite state to help her close the gap with the former President and potentially catapult her to success in other contests.

With less than five weeks to go until the primary, Haley can’t afford to lose any support, reports pointed out.

One of the major factors that’s likely to determine whether Haley’s comments about the Civil War will mark an inflection point for her campaign is her response, veteran GOP strategist Mike Dennehy said.

“It started as a fairly serious misstep, but if she isn't clear about her position on slavery in the Confederate flag and the Civil War, it will keep coming up and could present a serious challenge,” he said.

In a statement posted on X, NAACP said Haley's comments "perpetuate a dangerous narrative".

"To diminish the role of slavery in the Civil War is not only historically inaccurate, but also fails to acknowledge the ongoing impact of systemic racism and white supremacy as a result of it," the tweet said.

New Hampshire is the third extreme white state in the US, after its neighbours Maine and Vermont. A mere 2 per cent of the state's population is Black or African American, according to the 2020 US Census.

Haley attempted to walk back her comments during the North Conway event on Thursday.

“Of course, the Civil War was about slavery,” she told the predominantly older white crowd packed into a high school library.

“But the lessons of the bigger issue with the Civil War is that let's not forget what came out of that which is the government's role, individual liberties, freedom for every single person.”

For some voters in the crowd, her added response made a difference.

“I’m glad she at least addressed it,” Brian Patry said, adding, "I don’t think she should have left slavery out of it the first time. It should definitely be brought up, but I see where she was going.”



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Title: New Hampshire voters care a tuppence for Haley's civil war comments even as critics pound her

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