On Wednesday evening, Nikki Haley refused to state that slavery was a cause of the Civil War, instead blaming the involvement of the government.
The former UN Ambassador and South Carolina governor, whose star has risen in the nation’s first primary state, was speaking at a town hall gathering in Berlin, New Hampshire when a voter asked her to name the source of the conflict.
“I think the cause of the Civil War was basically how government was going to run,” she said. “The liberties and limitations on what people could and could not do.” “What do you believe was the cause of the Civil War?”
The questioner, who could not be heard well off camera, was unconvinced by Haley’s explanation. When she asked him what he thought was the cause of the war, he said he wasn’t running for president.
“I think it always comes down to the role of government and what the rights of the people are,” she said. “And I continue to say that I believe government was created to protect the rights and liberties of the people.”
It was never intended to be everything to everyone. The government is not required to tell you how to live your life. They don’t have to explain what you can and cannot do. They are not required to be a part of your life.
They must ensure that you have freedom. We require capitalism. We require economic liberty. We must do all possible to ensure that individuals have the freedom to express themselves, to practice their religion, and to do or be anything they wish without interference from the government.”
When the questioner commented that it was “astonishing” to hear her speak “without mentioning the word slavery,” Haley said, “What do you want me to say about slavery?” She then requested the next question.
The exchange, which occurred about an hour and a half into the town hall, highlighted the unique nature and common hazards that often await candidates in New Hampshire, where direct contact with voters is the norm.
In recent weeks, Haley’s stock has risen dramatically in the Granite State, thanks to a pitch that is often in sync with the state’s more moderate and independent-minded Republicanism. Her southern roots, however, are not necessarily a natural match in New Hampshire. And her remarks about slavery may cause her problems in the coming weeks.
Following the June 2015 shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, South Carolina removed the confederate flag from government grounds while Haley was governor. Prior to that, in a 2010 interview with a local activist group, she advocated states’ rights to secede from the United States, according to CNN.
While many factors contributed to the commencement of the Civil War, the fight, which was the deadliest in US history, was fought primarily over the South’s desire to keep slavery.