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DeSantis Campaign Press Release - WTAS: Haley is "in Damage Control" as She "Flubs" Civil War Question from NH Voter She Complains was Democrat Plant

December 28, 2023

"Nikki Haley in damage control." "Haley appears taken aback by the question." "Stunning moment." "It's not a difficult question." "Every grade-school student in the country has thought about it." "If you're that campaign, this is not what you want to be talking about."

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - After a brutal night and morning of media coverage, Haley spent the beginning of her day trying to walk back her gaffe at a town hall in New Hampshire last night where she refused to mention slavery as a cause for the Civil War. Haley's cleanup attempt only made matters worse, as she claimed the reason for her gaffe was the question came from a Democrat.

Here is what they are saying:

Union Leader's Kevin Landrigan: @NikkiHaley on flubbing question re: slavery at Berlin town hall: "Biden and the Democrats keep sending Democratic plants to do things like that to get the media to reax. Says "of course the Civil War was about slavery" but "what it means for us today was freedom."

CNN's Andy Kaczynski:: This implies what caused the Civil War is a trick question.

NBC's Sahil Kapur: "What caused the Civil War" is a question on the US citizenship test, which is generous in its acceptable responses, but Nikki Haley's initial answer doesn't read like it would pass (Other questions include "name one branch of the government" and "how many senators are there")

NBC's Jonathan Allen: Haley says questioner was a plant. It's not a difficult question, nor is it one any SC governor in the last 150+ years has failed to consider. Every grade-school student in the country has thought about it. Calling questioner a "plant" gives her backers a talking point.

WaPo's Josh Dawsey: The question was... what was the cause of the Civil War?

CNN's Andy Kaczynski:: Worth pointing out that Haley has completely flubbed the "what caused the Civil War" question before - when running for governor in 2010 and speaking of the Confederacy in sympathetic terms.

CNN's Eva McKend: Some context to Haley/Civil War episode...when we approached the man at the end of the event, he wouldn't give us his name, say where he was from or even confirm he was a New Hampshire resident, only telling us he had seen her prior comments on Civil War and wanted clarification

CNN's Eva McKend: They really guard her. She does not frequently speak to reporters during these campaign stops... things seem to be going relatively smooth for her. And then she gets this question out of the blue from this man... He only said that he saw her answer this question about 10 years ago when she was running for governor. And he was perplexed by his her response then.

ABC's Kelsey Walsh: During a town hall, @NikkiHaley was asked about the Civil War. After hearing her answer, the voter said, "In the year 2023, it's astonishing to me that you answer that question without mentioning the word slavery." Haley replied, "What do you want me to say about slavery?"

CNN's Eva McKend: An awkward moment tonight at Haley town hall when she's asked about the cause of the Civil War. Haley appears taken aback by the question and then suggests the war was about "basically how government was going to run." Voter calls her out for refusing to mention slavery.

CNN's Kaitlin Collins: Nikki Haley was asked by a voter in New Hampshire tonight about the cause of the Civil War. "I mean, I think the cause of the Civil War was basically how government was going to run. The freedoms and what people couldn't do," Haley answered.

AP's Meg Kinnard: Haley was asked this when she ran for governor in 2010. At that time, she called it a result of "tradition versus change." When pressed as to what that meant, she added "On individual rights and liberty of people." Tonight's response seems to take it a step further.

WaPo's Meryl Kornfield: Stunning moment: At a town hall in Berlin, N.H., Nikki Haley was asked by a voter what was the cause of the Civil War. She said the war was about government interfering in people's freedoms. The voter then called her out for not mentioning slavery.

Atlantic's Ronald Brownstein: Seems an oddly inevitable point to reach for a candidate who, even as she has gained altitude, has become even more reluctant to confront any interest or individual more powerful in the GOP than Vivek

Mark Levin: Honestly, incredibly ignorant answer. It's embarrassing.

Miranda Devine: [emoji]

National Review's Michael Brendan Dougherty: Best parts about Haley's dumb Civil War answer: 1) Clearly communicates her unease and lack of touch with Republican electorate. 2) Clearly communicates she doesn't realize that in New Hampshire she's campaigning to win votes from Independents and Democrats.

Joel Weingart: Haley last night: "What do you want me to say about slavery?" Omfg

NH Journal: Haley: Civil War Question Was Democrat Plant

Telegraph: Nikki Haley's first mistake may prove fatal

AP: Nikki Haley, asked what caused the Civil War, leaves out slavery. It's not the first time

Politico: Haley blames a 'Democratic plant' for Civil War question that tripped her up

Politico Playbook: Nikki Haley's moment of crisis

New York Times: Nikki Haley, in Retreat, Says 'Of Course the Civil War Was About Slavery'

Wall Street Journal: Nikki Haley Comes Under Criticism for Failing to Mention Slavery as Cause of Civil War

Washington Post: Nikki Haley acknowledges Civil War 'about slavery' after facing backlash

Daily Mail: Nikki Haley in damage control says 'of course the Civil War was about slavery' insisting it's the 'easy part' and claiming a PLANT was sent in to ask the question

Messenger: Haley Does Cleanup Following Controversial Slavery Comments: 'Of Course the Civil War Was About Slavery'

CBS: Nikki Haley fails to mention slavery when asked about cause of Civil War: "What do you want me to say about slavery?"

Hill: Haley seeks to clean up controversial remarks on Civil War

CNN: Haley seeks to clarify Civil War comments as backlash mounts

NBC: Nikki Haley makes no mention of slavery when asked to name cause of Civil War

Mediaite: Nikki Haley Claims Civil War Questioner at Her Town Hall Was a Secret Democratic 'Plant'

Daily Beast: Nikki Haley Blames Democrat 'Plant' for Civil War Slavery Fiasco

Breitbart: Nikki Haley Under Fire for Not Saying Civil War Fought over Slavery

Post Millennial: Biden, DeSantis take aim at Nikki Haley over remarks that Civil War was about 'how government was gonna run'

Washington Times: Haley tries to clean up Civil War remarks that omitted slavery

Daily Beast: Nikki Haley Seemingly Forgets Slavery When Asked to Name Cause of Civil War

Politico: Haley declines to say slavery was cause of Civil War

CNN This Morning Panel:

CNN's Phil Mattingly: I'm wondering if that kind of play it safe mentality that so many people have been writing about ends up being problematic when you get asked a question you're not expecting?

Semafor's Shelby Talcott: This is a prime example of it being problematic. And Nikki Haley has historically been very careful about staying clear with her talking points and bringing everything back to what she wants to say. And in an example like that, like this, you can't do that. And it is surprising to me on one hand, that she didn't answer off the cuff and go into the slavery discussion, because it seems so simple when you're watching that clip. And she is an experienced politician. And I think that this is a this is something that could affect her presidential campaign.

CNN's Jessica Dean: If you're that campaign, this is not what you want to be talking about. Right now. It is taking away from your main storyline... And so politically it is it is distracting, you get to the actual context of it and the substance of that question, and then you have to ask the deeper questions, which is why couldn't she just say that slavery was a part of why the Civil War was fought.

CNN's Poppy Harlow: Something that doesn't need any context. It just is. The testimony of the college presidents a couple of weeks ago - it's context dependent. And in that answer, she said government is not meant to be, quote all things to all people. But the criticism of her has been, you're trying to be all things to all people. And it seems like that's what happened here.

Semafor's Shelby Talcott: Yeah, and again, this is also allowing opposing campaigns to bring up her history in South Carolina with the Confederate flag, which is something that she has really avoided talking about on the campaign trail, but that's been Nikki Haley's problem. The main criticism that I've heard on the campaign trail from people who don't want to vote for is they feel like she's a little bit wishy washy, and they feel like she has flipped sides a little bit too much. And as you said, tries to be everything for everyone. And that's just not what you can be at this stage running a presidential campaign. You have to have specific positions and you have to lay them out clearly.

Fox and Friends' Joey Jones: You're running for president, you have to see questions like that coming.

Ron DeSantis, DeSantis Campaign Press Release - WTAS: Haley is "in Damage Control" as She "Flubs" Civil War Question from NH Voter She Complains was Democrat Plant Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/369183

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