Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley appeared in New Hampshire on Thursday, just two days after formally announcing her candidacy for president in 2024. She is the first major challenger to former President Donald Trump for the 2024 Republican nomination.
The 51-year-old Republican launched her campaign on Tuesday in a video. An email sent to media members last week said she would head to New Hampshire following her "special announcement," holding town halls on Thursday night in Exeter and on Friday night at Saint Anselm College's renowned New Hampshire Institute of Politics in Manchester.
Speaking in Exeter, Haley shared her personal story of growing up as the only Indian family in her small town.
"We weren't white enough to be white," she told a crowd in Exeter. "We weren't Black enough to be Black."
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She touted her economic accomplishments as governor of South Carolina.
"We were known as the 'beasts of the Southeast,'" she said. "By the time I left, we were building planes with Boeing, we recruited Mercedes-Benz."
She said she stood up for America when she was ambassador to the United Nations.
"Bottom line, I went in there and took the 'kick me' sign off our backs," she said.
She also waded into the culture wars.
"There was all this talk about the Florida bill, the 'Don't Say Gay' bill. Basically, what it said was you shouldn't be able to talk about gender before third grade," she said. "I'm sorry, I don't think that goes far enough."
She said after Republicans have lost seven of the last eight popular votes for president, it's time to move away from the past.
"We start focusing on new generational leadership, and the best way to do that is to put a badass woman in the White House," she said.
Haley did not take reporter questions after the event.
As the presidential election season gets underway, New Hampshire voters are ready to start taking a close look at the candidates.
"In New Hampshire, we say 'I've only met you one time.' We have to meet people more than once," said Exeter resident Florence Ruffner.
Peggy Massicotte, another Exeter resident, was impressed by Haley's speech.
"I am shopping for a candidate," said Massicotte. "I can't wait to see what all the candidates have to say."