Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley says the country is watching Iowa’s congressional races

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley gave a speech at the annual Reagan Society Dinner in Coralville Wednesday night, stressing the importance of the congressional races in Iowa that are crucial to the Republican Party’s efforts to gain a majority in the U.S. House.

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Hannah Kinson

Nikki Haley, Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, speaks during the Ronald Reagan Dinner hosted by the Johnson County Republicans of Iowa on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020 at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Coralville. “Even on our worse day, we are blessed to live in America,” Haley said, after talking about her experiences traveling to different countries as an ambassador. “But we have to fight for [America] and protect her.”

Julia Shanahan, Politics Editor


Former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley headlined the annual Reagan Society Dinner in Johnson County Wednesday night, saying the country’s eyes are on Iowa’s multiple competitive congressional races that have the potential to flip red.

“What’s on the line is the difference between a conservative Supreme Court and packing the court and making it liberal,” Haley said at the Radisson conference center in Coralville. “It’s between law and order, or lawlessness and riots and defunding the police.”

Haley, a Republican, was touring Iowa to campaign with 2nd Congressional District candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks, 1st Congressional District candidate Ashley Hinson, and Sen. Joni Ernst. Haley also made appearances with Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Attendees listen as Nikki Haley, Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, speaks during the Ronald Reagan Dinner hosted by the Johnson County Republicans of Iowa on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020 at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Coralville. As people were arriving, less than half wore masks before sitting down for dinner. The event information page stated, “social distancing and COVID-19 protocols will be in place. Masks are a personal preference.” (Hannah Kinson)

Many election experts and forecast sites have declared these congressional races to be toss ups, making the seats crucial to both party’s efforts to either gain or hold a majority.

Haley pointed to the fact that Iowa’s U.S. Senate race is the second most expensive in the country’s history, with outside and coastal states putting money into Democrat Theresa Greenfield’s campaign in an attempt to unseat Ernst.

According to a report from The Des Moines Register, campaign and political groups have spent more than $155 million in Iowa advertising related to the Senate race.

“The Democratic Party is not your grandparents’ Democratic Party,” she said. “It is extremely progressive. And this is where they’re trying to change free enterprise and turn it into a socialist government, and that bothers me.”

In a Sept. 30 report from PolitiFact, the site rated Trump’s claim that Joe Biden is a socialist as false. The report states that Biden does not support nationalizing industries and that his other policy platforms align with moderate Democrats.

In the last presidential debate, Biden said the Democratic Party’s platform is what he is running on, pushing back on Trump’s claim that he supports socialist policies.

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Haley served as the UN ambassador from 2017 to 2018, and previously served as the governor of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017. Haley said she’s been traveling the country to campaign with Republicans running for Congress, saying many Republicans have been out-raised but not out-worked.

Haley spoke about her time at the UN, and championed the decisions she made alongside President Trump, like exiting the Iran deal, moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in Israel, and pulling foreign aid from countries that wish “death to America.”

Republican candidates and politicos from across the state gathered in Iowa’s most Democratic county to rally around the congressional and local candidates, where they also encouraged people to check in with their friends and family to make sure they have a plan to vote.

Haley said Ernst has common-sense ideas in Congress, like supporting a measure that Congress shouldn’t get paid and shouldn’t go home if they haven’t passed a budget. She added that Ernst is doing “God’s work” right now in Washington D.C. as Ernsts prepares to vote for Supreme Court Justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

Ernst was scheduled to make an appearance at the dinner, but instead gave a pre-recorded speech from Washington, D.C. to introduce Haley.

Karen Fesler, secretary of the Johnson County Republicans, said this was the 15th annual Reagan Society Dinner. Fesler said this year had the best turnout with about 100 people attending. General admission tickets were $50 and tickets and tickets to be a part of the “inner circle” were $500.

The Facebook event stated that COVID-19 social-distancing protocols would be in place and that mask-wearing is a personal preference. Attendees mingled before the dinner, many without masks, and guests removed their masks when food was served to their tables.

Iowa Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann gave a speech at the beginning of the night, saying this election is the most angry and vicious he’s ever experienced. He pointed to negative political advertisements and out-of-state donors.

“I’ve been through six election cycles …This really has been the most vicious, the most fun, the most angry, the most rocking, and the most lying election cycle I have ever been through,” Kaufmann said.

Miller-Meeks and state Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, also gave short speeches.

The Iowa Democratic Party released a statement before the event, attacking Ernst for not knowing the break-even price of soybeans during the last U.S. Senate debate.

“While former Ambassador Haley is in town, hopefully she can provide an answer on the break-even price of soybeans, after Senator Ernst’s humiliating debate gaffe showed how she left Iowa farmers behind when she went to Washington,” Iowa Democratic Party spokesperson Jeremy Busch said in a statement. “Then again, if Senator Ernst hadn’t sold out our farmers, voted to gut health care, and threatened to slash Social Security, she wouldn’t have to desperately fly in politicians from across the country in the first place.

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