Takeaways From Nikki Haley’s Gentle CNN City Corridor

Nikki Haley, who was the primary distinguished Republican to announce a problem to former President Donald J. Trump within the 2024 race, has but to see her presidential marketing campaign catch fireplace. On Sunday night time, she had a contemporary alternative to make the case for her candidacy throughout a 90-minute CNN city corridor in prime time, in an effort to emerge from the low single digits in polls the place she has been mired.

Ms. Haley, the previous governor of South Carolina and United Nations ambassador below Mr. Trump, was nicely versed on coverage points, constantly upbeat and evenly tempered. Though she drew contrasts with Mr. Trump, she dodged alternatives to make him — and even President Biden — right into a political punching bag.

On the finish of the night time, an viewers member praised her demeanor as “a breath of contemporary air,” incomes applause from the home filled with Iowa Republicans. However that additionally meant that there have been few shoot-out-the-lights moments that might win Ms. Haley headlines and a brand new look from major voters, who now face a rising discipline of Republicans who’re in — or quickly to enter — the race.

Listed here are some takeaways from the occasion on Sunday night time.

In contrast with CNN’s explosive, much-criticized town-hall-style occasion with Mr. Trump final month, this one was a throwback to earlier, much less combative instances. There was no torrent of fact-checking, no viewers jeers whipped up from the stage and no forceful interrogation of the candidate. Jake Tapper, the anchor who moderated, by no means discovered the necessity to right Ms. Haley.

The 2 huge purple elephants within the room, Mr. Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, have been principally talked about not directly, however these two Republican presidential contenders have been current nonetheless. Ms. Haley repeated her place that to be able to save Social Safety and Medicare, it might be essential to boost the retirement age for younger staff and to restrict advantages for the rich. Each Mr. Trump and Mr. DeSantis, who as soon as supported comparable adjustments, now say they gained’t contact the applications.

“I feel it’s vital to be trustworthy with the American folks,” Ms. Haley mentioned. “We’re on this state of affairs. Don’t misinform them and say, ‘Oh, we don’t must take care of entitlement reform.’ Sure, we do.”

Ms. Haley additionally criticized Mr. DeSantis for his assaults on Disney as a “woke” firm. She had no beef with the Florida governor’s criticism of Disney’s opposition to what critics name his “Don’t Say Homosexual” legislation, and even mentioned she would have gone additional than that legislation to stop discuss of gender and sexuality in colleges. However she referred to as Mr. DeSantis “hypocritical” for accepting tens of hundreds of {dollars} in political contributions from Disney earlier than turning on the corporate, and for utilizing taxpayer {dollars} to sue it. “Choose up the telephone take care of it,” she mentioned. “Settle it the way in which you need to, and I simply assume he’s being hypocritical.”

On social points together with abortion, gun restrictions and transgender rights, which animate a lot of the Republican voting base, Ms. Haley toed a conservative line. She defended, for instance, main the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris local weather accord whereas on the United Nations. (President Biden rejoined the accord in 2021.) However she displayed much less of the punitive rhetoric on the problems that Mr. Trump and Mr. DeSantis have made essential to their messages.

Ms. Haley deflected on whether or not she supported a federal six-week abortion ban such because the one her dwelling state of South Carolina lately handed. Any nationwide restrictions, she mentioned, would require 60 senators to approve, which she mentioned was so distant that the query barely merited consideration.

In probably the most stirring second of the night time, Ms. Haley described persuading reluctant Republican lawmakers in South Carolina to take away the Accomplice battle flag from the State Capitol after the bloodbath by a white supremacist of Black worshipers on the Mom Emanuel church in Charleston in 2015.

She agreed with barring transgender ladies from faculty sports activities and even appeared to recommend that permitting “organic boys” in ladies’ locker rooms was linked with the excessive price of teenage ladies who’ve thought-about suicide.

On the identical time, she acknowledged that “we do should be humane” about transgender youngsters. In South Carolina colleges when she was governor, Ms. Haley mentioned, principals made personal lavatory lodging for them. “They have been protected, and nearly all of the coed physique didn’t even must take care of it,” she mentioned.

Ms. Haley additionally carved out variations with Mr. Trump and Mr. DeSantis on international coverage points, as she has up to now. The previous U.N. ambassador disputed Mr. DeSantis, who has referred to as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “territorial dispute” — a characterization he has since walked again — and he or she dismissed Mr. Trump’s refusal to say whether or not Ukraine ought to win the conflict.

She mentioned each positions represented a naïve belief in Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin. “If Ukraine pulls out,” Ms. Haley mentioned, “then we’re all a world conflict.”

Requested by Mr. Tapper about Mr. Trump’s congratulating North Korea’s chief, Kim Jong-un, for lately ascending to a management function within the World Well being Group, Ms. Haley referred to as Mr. Kim, whose flattering letters Mr. Trump as soon as praised, a “thug.”

“There is no such thing as a motive we must always ever congratulate the truth that they’re now vice chair of the World Well being Group,” Ms. Haley mentioned.