Rand Paul wades into GOP primary race with ‘Never Nikki’ Haley initiative

Nikki Haley is an “outlier” among the candidates vying to take on President Biden in the 2024 general election, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told The Post on Friday, after launching his “Never Nikki” initiative. 

The anti-endorsement aims to define the former South Carolina governor as a “Big Government” Republican with little concern for fiscal responsibility or civil liberties — fundamental issues for the libertarian senator — ahead of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. 

“I wanted to be very very clear that no libertarian or conservative thinks she’s one of us,” Paul told The Post, arguing that there is a “clear-cut distinction” between Haley, 51, and the rest of the GOP primary field “in the sense that she’s been enthusiastic for foreign aid and the most enthusiastic for sending more money to Ukraine.” 

Paul, who previously endorsed former President Donald Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns, wasn’t yet ready Friday to make a final pronouncement on who he’s supporting in 2024, but he’s certain it won’t be Haley.

He said his “Never Nikki” campaign — which includes launching a website attacking several of her policy positions — is “sort of the beginning of the process of me getting involved” in the 2024 race. 

Rand Paul
Paul’s “Never Nikki” website sharply criticizes the former South Carolina governor. Rand Paul, /X

“The one thing I’m absolutely certain of is Nikki Haley doesn’t represent the liberty wing or the fiscally conservative wing of the Republican Party,” Paul said. 

“I think she represents the ‘Big Government,’ sort of the Mitch McConnell, Dick Cheney, John McCain wing of the GOP,” he argued. 

Paul specifically cited Haley’s November proposal to force social media users to verify their identities before posting and her October debate remark about desiring a “Department of Offense” over a Department of Defense as rhetoric that “alarms people like myself.” 

“No libertarian that I’ve met has come to me and said they like Nikki Haley,” Paul said. “The idea that you would have to register your name with the government to participate [on social media] … that alone would have libertarians rooming from the room.” 

He added that Haley’s proposed social media reforms “disqualified her with libertarian-leaning Republicans” and he slammed the candidate’s apparent lack of “historical knowledge to know that almost every one of our founders wrote anonymously and under pseudonyms for fear of the government.” 

Paul teased that depending on the results of the Jan. 15 Iowa caucuses, he might have “more to say next week” about which candidate he’ll back in 2024.

“There is a distinct possibility I will make an endorsement before New Hampshire,” he noted.

Nikki Haley
“I think she represents the ‘Big Government,’ sort of the Mitch McConnell, Dick Cheney, John McCain wing of the GOP,” Paul said of Haley. BACKGRID

“While I don’t kid myself that my endorsement all of the sudden changes the race, I think I can have some effect in New Hampshire,” Paul said. 

Haley’s polling in both Iowa and New Hampshire has surged in recent months, with a RealClearPolitics average of surveys showing the former UN ambassador running in second place in both early nominating states. 

With 17.8% support, Haley is ahead of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, 45, in the Hawkeye State by 2 points but trails Trump by 35 points. 

In the Granite State, where voters will head to the polls on Jan. 23, Haley is closer to the 77-year-old former president, trailing him by about 14 points, and she’s ahead of DeSantis by 18 points. 

Paul said he would have to “reassess” whether to support Haley over Biden and third-party candidates if she were to win the GOP nomination, but added, “Hopefully my influence will not lead to her being the nominee.” 


Written by SaleemBaloch

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