Democrats and supporters of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on Wednesday after she refused to name slavery as the primary cause of the Civil War.
Haley, 51, made the apparent gaffe during a town hall event in Berlin, NH, after a voter asked the former United Nations ambassador to identify the cause of the deadliest war in American history.
The White House hopeful appeared caught off guard by the question and failed to mention the antebellum South’s “peculiar institution” in her response.
“I think the cause of the Civil War was basically how government was going to run,” Haley said. “The freedoms and what people could and couldn’t do.”
“I think it always comes down to the role of government and what the rights of the people are,” Haley went on. “And I will always stand by the fact that I think government was intended to secure the rights and freedoms of the people.”
She continued her long-winded answer going off on a tangent on capitalism and First Amendment rights.
“It was never meant to be all things to all people,” the Republican presidential contender continued. “Government doesn’t need to tell you how to live your life. They don’t need to tell you what you can and can’t do. They don’t need to be a part of your life. They need to make sure that you have freedom.
“We need to have capitalism. We need to have economic freedom. We need to make sure that we do all things so that individuals have the liberties so that they can have freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to do or be anything they want to be without government getting in the way.”
The individual who posed the question to the candidate responded that it was “astonishing” to hear her answer “without mentioning the word slavery.”
“What do you want me to say about slavery? Next question,” Haley shot back.
President Biden’s X account shared a video of Haley’s town hall moment and tweeted, “It was about slavery.”
Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison tweeted that Haley’s answer was “not stunning if you were a Black resident in [South Carolina] when she was Governor.”
“Same person who said the confederate flag was about tradition & heritage and as a minority woman she was the right person to defend keeping it on state house grounds. Some may have forgotten but I haven’t. Time to take off the rose colored Nikki Haley glasses folks,” he added.
“Sorry, [Haley]. The Civil War was about slavery. Period,” Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), who is running for the Democratic nomination for president, tweeted.
Christina Pushaw, Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ rapid response coordinator, mocked Haley’s convoluted answer, describing it as “word-salad regarding the Civil War.”
Pushaw also accused “conservative media personalities” of ignoring her response in an effort “not to make her look stupid with her own words.”
DeSantis press secretary Bryan Griffith characterized the moment as “a giant mess of her own making.”
The Haley campaign did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.
A RealClearPolitics average of polls pegs Haley in second place in New Hampshire, trailing former President Donald Trump by 21.5 points.
The Granite State primary will be held on Jan. 23.