Nikki Haley praises Trump’s ‘strong’ CPAC speech after rebuking him weeks earlier
A couple of weeks after pointed criticism of the then-president’s comments before the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol, Haley praised Trump in a tweet Sunday night, a couple of hours after the former president’s address at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), his first public appearance and speech since leaving the White House on Jan. 20.
“Strong speech by President Trump about the winning policies of his administration and what the party needs to unite behind moving forward. The liberal media wants a GOP civil war. Not gonna happen,” Haley tweeted.
Haley, who was nominated by Trump and confirmed by Congress as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the first two years of the former president’s administration, took aim at Trump in an interview last month, claiming he let down his supporters.
“We need to acknowledge he let us down,” the potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate told Politico as she pointed to the deadly insurrection at the Capitol by right-wing extremists and other Trump supporters.
“He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that ever happen again,” she said.
Haley acknowledged that Trump’s base still remains loyal to the former president but said that going forward, “I think what we need to do is take the good that he built, leave the bad that he did, and get back to a place where we can be a good, valuable, effective party. But at the same time, it’s bigger than the party. I hope our country can come together and figure out how we pull this back.”
Haley’s praise and criticism of Trump underscores her apparent strategy of showcasing the achievements of the Trump administration while criticizing Trump’s efforts to upend his presidential election defeat to now-President Joe Biden and his encouragement of those who stormed the Capitol.
A Republican strategist in the former ambassador and governor’s obit tells Fox News that “Haley realizes that the liberal media blows up any and all Republican criticism of President Trump, attempting to push a GOP civil war. She’s not going to play that game.”
“She parts company when she thinks it’s warranted, but she supports the large majority of Trump policies and applauds his message of GOP unity. That unity is essential for defeating the extremes we are seeing from the left,” noted the strategist, who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely.
In December, Haley acknowledged Biden’s Electoral College victory, but in an op-ed in the Washington Post she urged that “Biden shouldn’t reject all of Trump’s foreign policies” and spotlighted “three he should keep.”
At a closed-door speech at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting held immediately after the Capitol insurrection, she emphasized that Trump’s Jan. 6 actions would be “judged harshly by history.” But in the same address, Haley also spotlighted the Trump administration’s “extraordinary gains”
In late January, days before the second Trump impeachment trial in the Senate, Haley said in an interview on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” that Trump did not deserve to be impeached for his role in the insurrection. “I mean at some point, give the man a break. I mean, move on if you truly are about moving on,” she added.
And two weeks ago, in an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal, she charged that the media was trying to sow division in the GOP. Haley wrote that the “liberal media… wants to stoke a nonstop Republican civil war. The media playbook starts with the demand that everyone pick sides about Donald Trump—either love or hate everything about him.”
Haley has spoken at CPAC multiple times in the past, including last year when Trump was running for reelection. A conservative source tells Fox News that she was invited to this year’s conference but last month responded that she wouldn’t be attending.
And a source close to Haley’s orbit told Fox News that Haley wasn’t able to attend the conference this year due to a prior personal engagement.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report