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Nikki Haley claims the US has ‘never been a racist country’

Presidential hopeful Nikki Haley has claimed the US has “never been a racist country” as she dismissed the suggestion that she would struggle to gain the GOP nomination as a woman of colour.

One day after a national holiday celebrating US civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr, the former Governor of South Carolina described her experience as the “American dream” and also denied that the Republican party itself was racist.

Ms Haley finished in third position in the GOP Iowa caucuses on Monday behind Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, respectively. On Tuesday, MSNBC host Joy Reid claimed that her third-place finish in Iowa was due to her race and ethnicity.

“It’s the elephant in the room. She’s still a brown lady that’s got to try to win in a party that is deeply anti-immigrant, and which accepts the notion [that] you can say immigrants are poisoning the blood of our country,” Ms Reid said.

Speaking to Fox & Friends, Ms Haley was asked if she believed her party was “racist”.

The former Governor of South Carolina described her experience as the ‘American Dream’ and also denied that the Republican party itself was racist (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
The former Governor of South Carolina described her experience as the ‘American Dream’ and also denied that the Republican party itself was racist (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

“No! We’re not a racist country… We’ve never been a racist country,” she responded, adding: “Our goal is to make sure we are better than yesterday.”

Ms Haley said:  “I am a brown girl that grew up in South Carolina, who became the first female minority governor in history, who became a UN ambassador and is now running for president.

“If that’s not the American dream, I don’t know what is.”

Her remarks come after former president Trump claimed that Ms Haley is not eligible to serve as president of the United States, using similar racist smear tactics previously deployed against former president Barack Obama and Vice President Kamala Harris in recent years.

Mr Trump shared an article from far-right conspiracy site The Gateway Pundit which posited that Ms Haley is not a “natural born citizen” because her parents, Indian immigrants, were not American citizens when she was born in 1972.

Ms Haley came in third place in the Iowa caucuses on Monday, behind Donald Trump (pictured) and Ron DeSantis (AP)
Ms Haley came in third place in the Iowa caucuses on Monday, behind Donald Trump (pictured) and Ron DeSantis (AP)

Ms Haley, who served as Mr Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, was born in the United States.

However, Ms Haley has herself been criticised by members of both Republican and Democratic parties for previous remarks about the US Civil War.

Back in December, Ms Haley was asked by a man at a New Hampshire town hall: “What was the cause of the United States Civil War?” To which, she joked, “Well, don’t come with an easy question”.

She continued: “I think the cause of the Civil War was basically how government was going to run, the freedoms, and what people could and couldn’t do…I think it always comes down to the role of government.” She didn’t mention slavery, which the voter pointed out.

Ms Haley later acknowledged her mistake, telling a CNN town hall event that she “should have said slavery right off the bat” and said that she had “Black friends growing up”.