Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley made an appeal to potential voters at the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday as she declared a war on “wokeness” while reigniting her conflict with CNN’s Don Lemon.
The former South Carolina governor and US ambassador to the United Nations spoke to attendees at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center just weeks after she annnounced her candidacy. So far, she is the only Republican presidential candidate challenging former president Donald Trump.
But during her speech at CPAC, Ms Haley focused more on the CNN anchor’s infamous comments that she was not in her prime after she suggested older politicians should be subjected to a cognitive test.
“The liberal media’s heads are exploding about my run for president,” she said. “The media can’t stand the fact that I’m a conservative.”
Ms Haley stressed the fact that she was the first female person of colour to serve as governor was a sign that America was not a racist country.
“I’m running for president to renew an America that’s proud and strong, not weak and woke,” she said. “Wokeness is a virus more dangerous than any pandemic, hands down.”
Ms Haley repeated parts of her campaign announcement, noting that Republicans have lost the popular vote in seven out of the last eight presidential elections, subtly pushing back on Mr Trump’s claim the election was stolen.
“And if you want to win not just as a party, but as a country, then stand with me,” she said.
At the same time, she spoke about “election integrity” and the fact as governor, she enacted a voter ID law.
“It’s racist to think minorities are incapable of getting an ID for themselves,” she said.
Ms Haley’s speech comes at the same conference where Mr Trump will later take the stage on Saturday. Shortly after Ms Haley spoke, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, a potential challeger in 2024 who worked with her in the administration, spoke.
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