‘We’ll do catch and deport.’


Presidential hopeful Nikki Haley visited Indigo Hall in the heart of downtown Spartanburg Monday evening.

Outside the venue, volunteers sold “Women for Nikki Haley” shirts while others passed out stickers boasting South Carolina’s love for the state’s former governor.

On the campaign trail just over two weeks before South Carolina’s presidential primary on Feb. 24, Haley has spent the last few weeks visiting different cities in the state ― from Charleston to the Midlands. Spartanburg marks Haley’s second stop in the Upstate in 2024 following a visit to Mauldin on Jan. 27.

Almost a year to the day since Haley announced her run for president, voters packed the venue to see Haley speak. Haley announced her run for president on Feb. 14, 2023, in a tweeted video.

Some traveled from nearby counties like Greenville to see Haley.

“I would love our first female president to be a conservative,” said Alectra Bork, a 20-year-old student who attends the ultra-conservative Bob Jones University in Greenville. Speaking to the Greenville News, she said she hoped Haley addressed the border, the cost of living and abortion during Monday’s rally. Instead of donning Haley’s merch, she wore a white sweater with an American flag, identical to a sweater Haley wears often.

Haley did touch on the border and cost of living during her stump speech.

“Instead of catch and release, we’ll do catch and deport,” Haley said regarding immigration policy. About the cost of living, she said she wanted to “lower taxes for the middle class” to ease the cost of living.

Haley appears on SNL to poke fun at former President Trump

The rally came two nights after Haley appeared on NBC’s Saturday Night Live (SNL) where she mocked former President Trump and somewhat addressed her previous comments about slavery and the Civil War, where she previously left out any mention of slavery when asked what was the cause of the Civil War.

“Yeah, I probably should have said that the first time,” Haley said on SNL when actress and host Ayo Edebiri, acting as a voter, questioned Haley: “What would you say was the main cause of the Civil War? And do you think it starts with an ‘S’ and ends with a ‘lavery’?”

On SNL, she also joked about former President Donald Trump’s legal fees.

“You spent $50 million in your own legal fees. Do you need to borrow some money?” she said to Trump impersonator and SNL star James Austin Johnson.

Trump still leading Haley in the polls

Despite Trump’s legal woes, a recent poll from Monmouth University and the Washington Post points to the loyalty of many Trump supporters. In the poll, 88% of South Carolina Trump supporters say he should stay on the ticket even if convicted, with 90% saying they would still vote for him over President Joe Biden in November.

Trump also has a commanding lead over Haley in polls with 58% of potential Republican primary voters currently supporting Trump, with Haley trailing with only 32%.

Haley mentioned Trump during the rally, saying he never talked about the wars going on across the world, or how “we’re going to bring lawfulness back to our streets” during his campaign.

“He never talked about anything but himself,” she said.

Nikki Haley raised $16.5 million in January

In the Iowa Caucus last month, she came in third place behind Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who dropped out following the loss. In New Hampshire, Haley lost to former President Donald Trump by 11 percentage points.

But, Haley has vowed to stay in the race as she attempts to build momentum. Her campaign says Haley raised $16.5 million in January from all her campaign committees, including $11.7 million from grassroots supporters, and added 69,274 new donors to Team Haley.

Nevada to hold presidential primary, caucus this week

Even with a Republican primary in Nevada on Tuesday, Haley continued to campaign in South Carolina. In Nevada, the state will be holding a Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, but a GOP caucus on Thursday. Due to a recently signed law, Nevada must hold primary elections when more than one candidate is on the ballot.

Still, the Nevada GOP will be holding a caucus that Haley will not be on due to a party rule that says any presidential candidate participating in the primary cannot be on the caucus. She will be on the presidential primary ballot on Tuesday.

‘Most privileged nursing home in America’

During her rally, Haley spoke on a few familiar topics she mentioned at previous rallies, like her idea for a competency test for Congress or other U.S. politicians over the age of 75 years old.

“We all know 75-year-olds who can run circles around us,” Haley said. “Then, we know Joe Biden.” She also called Congress the “most privileged nursing home in America.”

About Senator Tim Scott, who she appointed to Congress, she said “Everyone has to sleep with their own decisions.”

“If you get involved in this, I will do the same thing I did when I was governor,” Haley said as she closed out the night. “I will spend every single day proving to you that you made a good decision.”

Savannah Moss covers Greenville County politics for Greenville News. She will also be covering Nikki Haley’s presidential campaign. Reach her at smoss@gannett.com or follow her on X @savmoss.

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